BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — White House officials, under siege over President Trump’s reluctance to condemn white supremacists for the weekend’s bloody rallies in Charlottesville, Va., tried to clarify his comments on Sunday, as critics in both parties intensified demands that he adopt a stronger, more unifying message.
A statement on Sunday — issued more than 36 hours after the protests began — condemned “white supremacists” for the violence that led to one death. It came in an email sent to reporters in the president’s traveling press pool, and was attributed to an unnamed representative.
It was not attributed directly to Mr. Trump, who often uses Twitter to communicate directly on controversial topics. It also did not single out “white supremacists” alone but instead included criticism of “all extremist groups.”
The email was sent “in response” to questions about Mr. Trump’s remarks, in which he blamed the unrest “on many sides” while speaking on Saturday before an event for military veterans at his golf resort in Bedminster, N.J., where the president is on vacation.
“The president said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred,” the statement said. “Of course that includes white supremacists, K.K.K. neo-Nazi and all extremist groups. He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together.”
Mr. Trump’s high-volume outbursts on issues petty and profound have become a defining feature of his presidency. But his quiescence on the violence in Charlottesville has had, in many ways, a more profound and unsettling effect.
The president’s reluctance to speak out with force and moral indignation against the white nationalists who incited the most serious racial episode of his presidency elicited deep feelings of disappointment spanning the ideological spectrum, and a spreading sense that he had squandered a critical opportunity to empathize, unite and move beyond the acrimony that has engulfed the White House and country.
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