Trump added on Monday:
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. Our federal law-enforcement agencies are following through on that pledge. We will spare no resources 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. God bless America. Thank you very much.
The statement was also unusual for Trump in that he spoke from prepared remarks, from which he did not appear to deviate. The president tends to prefer to improvise, a habit that frays the nerves of his advisers and world leaders alike. Trump also did not take any questions after his statement, leaving out a chance to go off-script. Somewhat jarringly, he prefaced his remarks with a few words about the strength of the national economy, bragging about progress under his watch.
The topics of the economy and white supremacism have already collided. On Monday morning, the CEO of the pharmaceutical giant Merck announced he was stepping down from Trump’s Manufacturing Jobs Initiative over Trump’s tepid remarks on Saturday. Trump was much faster to denounce the executive than he was to denounce neo-Nazis, tweeting within an hour, “Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President's Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!”
Trump has long soft-pedaled his language when it comes to racists. During the campaign, he was often praised and endorsed by white supremacists. Confederate flags were not an uncommon site at campaign events in the South. He was notably slow to disown an endorsement from former Klan leader David Duke, and he retweeted anti-Semitic memes that originated in white-supremacist web forums and accounts with names like “@WhiteGenocideTM.” Chief White House strategist Steve Bannon told journalist Joshua Green in late September that Trump avoided denouncing white supremacists and racists because the campaign had determined that it didn’t sway anyone who wasn’t already voting for Hillary Clinton. Left unsaid was the clear implication that condemning them might lose Trump some of his own supporters.
Even so, Trump’s decision to cast blame “on all sides” came as a surprise, given that protesters in Charlottesville were openly carrying swastikas and other Nazi symbols, and given that one of the dead was killed after an alleged white supremacist drove into a crowd. (The other two were police who died when their helicopter crashed.) The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi site, praised Trump’s reaction. “Trump comments were good. He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us,” one post read. “Really, really good. God bless him.”