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Trump says blame belongs 'on many sides' amid white supremacist violence in Virginia

 (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)
(Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)

President Trump said blame for violence by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va., belongs "on many sides," just after authorities confirmed that at least one person had died in an attack earlier in the day by a car.  

The president's statement Saturday, from his golf club in New Jersey, is sure to enflame criticism that already had built over two days as he first was silent on white supremacist violence and then posted two tweets that generically condemned hate without citing any groups.

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides, on many sides," Trump said.

"What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives," he added.

Trump's appearance had been previously scheduled to highlight his work for veterans and on  the economy. The president mostly dealt with those topics during the event, which lasted just over 10 minutes. After a short statement on Charlottesville, he talked about the economy and greeted assembled veterans, before leaving without answering shouted questions from reporters. 

Among the questions he ignored Saturday was, "Do you want the support of these white nationalists?" Another asked whether the violence should be considered terrorism. 

Trump's unresponsiveness contrasted with his volubility in the past two days, when in three separate appearances before reporters he took numerous questions on subjects including North Korea. He did so with apparent enjoyment, compared to his evident discomfiture on Saturday.

Earlier in the day, former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke had hailed the protests as "a turning point" that realized the promise of Trump's election. He subsequently criticized Trump's tweets, despite their failure to single out the white supremacists in Charlottesville.

The president should remember that "white Americans" put him in the White House, Duke wrote.

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