Trump condemns hatred “on many sides” amid Charlottesville violence

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Last Updated Aug 12, 2017 4:00 PM EDT

President Trump said he condemns hatred and bigotry on “many sides” in Charlottesville, Virginia, in remarks from New Jersey, his first since white nationalist group protests turned violent and resulted in at least one death on Saturday.

“We’re closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia,” Mr. Trump said. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides.”

In his remarks, the president failed to mention the displays of white nationalism or Nazi symbols present in Charlottesville Saturday.

“It’s been going on for a long time in our country,” Mr. Trump said of the hatred and bigotry in Charlottesville. “Not Donald Trump. Not Barack Obama. It’s been going on for a long, long time.”

The president gave the remarks at the beginning of a bill signing event to expand a program allowing veterans to seek private medical care.

“We have to heal the wounds of our country,” the president said to conclude his remarks. 

The president ignored a reporter’s question asking what he has to say to white nationalists who say they support him, and commit acts of violence.

The Charlottesville protests, which originated to speak out against the removal of a statute of confederate general Robert E. Lee, became aggressive and dangerous before the rally was supposed to start at noon, resulting in multiple fights and injuries. A vehicle plowed into multiple pedestrians, resulting in multiple injuries. At least one person has died, Charlottesville’s mayor, Mike Signer, announced on Twitter.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement obtained by CBS News’ Paula Reid that he is “in contact” with Justice Department officials on the scene, and DOJ stands by the president in condemning violence, and any hate and intolerance.

“I have been in contact with our Department of Justice agents assisting at the scene and state officials,” Sessions said. “We will continue to support our state and local officers on the ground in any way possible. We stand united behind the president in condemning the violence in Charlottesville and any message of hate and intolerance. This kind of violence is totally contrary to American values and can never be tolerated. I want to thank all law enforcement personnel in the area for their commitment to protecting this community and the rule of law.”

Mr. Trump earlier in the day on Twitter said Americans must unite against hate, although he didn’t specifically condemn the white nationalist sentiment or Nazi symbols that appeared in Charlottesville. 

© 2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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