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Trump Says Racism Is Evil, Condemns White Supremacists, KKK And Neo-Nazis As 'Criminals And Thugs'

WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Saying "racism is evil," President Donald Trump on Monday condemned the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists as "criminals and thugs."

The president delivered a statement Monday in response the deadly attack in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend, in which authorities said an Ohio man plowed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters who'd gathered to oppose a rally by white nationalists and others.

Authorities said one woman was killed in the incident and 19 others were hurt.

As CBS2's Dick Brennan reported, the new statement came after critics said Trump id not condemn the groups on Saturday.

Trump has come under fire for his earlier comments Saturday that "many sides'' are to blame for the violence. In those remarks, he did not single out white supremacists or any other hate group, even as Republican lawmakers and others in his White House did condemn them by name.

"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," Trump said Monday. "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."

He added that those who spread violence in the name of bigotry "strike at the very core of America."

"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," the president said. "We will spare no resource in fighting so that every American child can grow up free from violence and fear."

Trump also said the Department of Justice has opened a civil rights investigation into the deadly car attack.

"To anyone who acted criminally in this weekend's racist violence, you will be held fully accountable, justice will be delivered," he said. "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."

After signing a memo on China's trade laws, Trump was asked why he did not respond sooner and condemn hate groups over the weekend.

"They've been condemned," Trump replied. "They've been condemned."

As critics complained that Trump's earlier "many sides" remark was insufficient, the chief executive officer of Merck, Kenneth Frazier, quit the president's American Manufacturing Council over the issue.

Trump slammed Frazier on Twitter saying he will have "more time to lower ripoff drug prices."

Trump was set to arrive in Manhattan late Monday. He will stay in Trump Tower this week for the first time since he took office.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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