A day after violence broke out between counter-protesters and white nationalists in his city, Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer on Sunday said President Trump deserves at least some of the blame.
“Look at the campaign he ran,” Mr. Signer told CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Look at the intentional courting, on one hand, of all these white supremacists, white nationalists … and look on the other hand at the repeated failure to step up, condemn, denounce, silence, put to bed all of these different efforts, just like we saw yesterday. This isn’t hard.”
Mr. Trump has come under bipartisan fire for failing to explicitly condemn white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and other hate groups in brief remarks he gave Saturday from his golf club in New Jersey. Instead, the president blasted hate and violence on “many sides.”
Prominent white nationalists, including former KKK leader David Duke, have been outspoken supporters of Mr. Trump, and some white supremacist groups even praised Mr. Trump’s Saturday statement, claiming it was a victory because the president didn’t specifically blame them.
That shouldn’t be surprising, Mr. Signer said, because the president throughout his campaign also failed to fully disavow the support from hate groups.
“Old saying — when you dance with the devil, the devil changes you,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I think they made a choice in that campaign, a very regrettable one, to really go to peoples prejudices, to go to the gutter. These influences around the country, these anti-Semites, racists, Aryans, Nazis, KKK, they were always in the shadows, but they’ve been given a key and a reason to come in the light.”
In comments Sunday morning, a White House spokesperson told reporters that Mr. Trump condemned violence on all sides, and that includes white supremacist organizations.
“The president said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry, and hatred. Of course that includes white supremacists, KKK, Neo-Nazi and all extremist groups. He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together,” the official said.