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White House scrambles to explain Trump’s reaction to clashes

BEDMINSTER, N.J. (AP) – The White House scrambled Sunday to elaborate on President Donald Trump’s response to deadly, race-fueled clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, as he came under bipartisan scolding for not clearly condemning white supremacists and other hate groups immediately after the altercations. Vice President Mike Pence, traveling in South America, condemned “these dangerous fringe groups” and said they “have no place in American public life and in the American debate.” In the hours after a car plowed into a group of anti-racist counter-protesters on Saturday, Trump addressed the violence in broad strokes, saying that he condemns “in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.” The president said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred and of course that includes white Supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazi and all extremist groups. Usually, a statement would be signed by the press secretary or another staffer; not putting a name to one eliminates an individual’s responsibility for its truthfulness and often undercuts its significance. Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said Sunday that he considered the attack to be terrorism. The president’s homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, defended the president’s initial statement by suggesting that some of the counter-protesters were violent, too. Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer, a Democrat, slammed Trump’s stance toward hate groups, saying on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he hopes Trump “looks himself in the mirror and thinks very deeply about who he consorted with.”

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