President Trump on Saturday issued a vague condemnation of violence in Charlottesville in a televised statement from New Jersey.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides,” Trump said.
He declined to join politicians on both sides of the aisle who condemned the views of white nationalists who rallied over the weekend.
“We have so many incredible things happening in our country. So when I watch Charlottesville, to me it’s very very sad,” Trump said.
“Above all else, we must remember this truth: no matter our color, creed, religion, or political party, we are all Americans first,” he said.
Earlier, Trump tweeted about the situation.
We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2017
The tweet came after several calls for the president to condemn the rally and violence.
Later on Saturday, the president posted another tweet, calling the situation in Charlottesville “sad.”
Am in Bedminster for meetings & press conference on V.A. & all that we have done, and are doing, to make it better-but Charlottesville sad!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2017
In a third tweet, Trump said, “What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives.”
Trump has often been criticized for being slow to condemn violence against minorities while highlighting crimes committed by immigrants.
Hours before a noon rally was set to begin Saturday, violent skirmishes broke out between bands of white supremacists and counterprotesters who have converged on this college town around the issue of a Confederate statue.
Local officials declared a state of emergency Saturday, effectively ending the planned rally before it began.
Material from the Washington Post was used in this report.