U.S. President Donald Trump doubled down Monday on the hate groups that turned the town of Charlottesville, Virginia into a symbol of fear and violence over the weekend.
The move followed two days of outrage expressed by politicians and supporters alike who believed the president had not gone far enough in a statement Saturday from his club in New Jersey, in which he condemned the violence “on all sides.” National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster labeled a ramming attack at a rally the same day to be “an act of terrorism.”
An unidentified driver drove his car directly into a crowd of counter-protesters who were demonstrating against neo-Nazis and white supremacists in downtown Charlottesville. One woman died as a result of the attack and 19 others were injured. Two Virginia state troopers also died when the police helicopter in which they were riding in response to the attack, crashed and burned instead.
In response to escalating tensions, upon his return to the White House, the president held a news conference on Monday, speaking first for a few minutes about economic issues but then getting down to his real agenda: “the events that took place over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.”
Following is a partial transcript of President Trump’s remarks that followed on from that point:
“I would like to provide the nation with an update on the ongoing federal response to the horrific attack and violence that was witnessed by everyone.
“I just met with FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The Department of Justice has opened a civil rights investigation into the deadly car attack that killed one innocent American and wounded 20 others. To anyone who acted criminally in this weekend’s racist violence, you will be held fully accountable. Justice will be delivered.
“As I said on Saturday, we condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence. It has no place in America.
“And as I have said many times before: No matter the color of our skin, we all live under the same laws, we all salute the same great flag, and we are all made by the same almighty God. We must love each other, show affection for each other, and unite together in condemnation of hatred, bigotry, and violence. We must rediscover the bonds of love and loyalty that bring us together as Americans.
“Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.
“We are a nation founded on the truth that all of us are created equal. We are equal in the eyes of our Creator. We are equal under the law. And we are equal under our Constitution. Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America.
“Two days ago, a young American woman, Heather Heyer, was tragically killed. Her death fills us with grief, and we send her family our thoughts, our prayers, and our love.
“We also mourn the two Virginia state troopers who died in service to their community, their commonwealth, and their country. Troopers Jay Cullen and Burke Bates exemplify the very best of America, and our hearts go out to their families, their friends, and every member of American law enforcement.
“These three fallen Americans embody the goodness and decency of our nation. In times such as these, America has always shown its true character: responding to hate with love, division with unity, and violence with an unwavering resolve for justice.
“As a candidate, I promised to restore law and order to our country, and our federal law enforcement agencies are following through on that pledge. We will spare no resource in fighting so that every American child can grow up free from violence and fear. We will defend and protect the sacred rights of all Americans, and we will work together so that every citizen in this blessed land is free to follow their dreams in their hearts, and to express the love and joy in their souls.
“Thank you. God bless you. And God bless America. Thank you very much.”