"I just met with FBI director Christopher Wray, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions," Trump said. "The Department of Justice has opened a civil rights investigation into the deadly car attack that killed one innocent American, and wounded twenty others. To anyone who acted criminally in this weekend's racist violence, you will be held fully accountable. Justice will be delivered."
Trump added, "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."
For a moment, it looked as though the President, who had not mentioned hate groups in his previous public statements about the Unite the Right rally that was held this weekend to protest the removal of Confederate monuments from public spaces in Charlottesville, would end his remarks there. After all, many of Trump's supporters identify with the "alt-right" and white nationalist movements, and considering his low numbers of public support, he needs every bit of approval that he can get.
Finally, though, Trump said,"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."
Nice rhetoric, and maybe the President is sincere in his condemnation of hate groups, especially those that espouse anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism, fascism, and white supremacy. But I find it hard to believe, partly because Trump got where he is with lots of votes from these groups, but mostly because of Trump's embrace of the "birther" movement (which claimed that former President Obama was born in Kenya and therefore was not qualified to be the nation's chief executive) and his insistence that the Central Park Five deserved the death penalty for a 1989 crime they did not commit.
But as long as he continues to rely on the services of Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, and Sebastian Gorka, I think that Trump's remarks about the events in Charlottesville are just a rhetorical bandage on the wounds of division that his campaign and election inflicted on the American body politic.