Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. Photo: U.S. Department of the Interior
National | Politics

Secretary Zinke condemns White supremacists but vows full 'support' for President Trump

Secretary Ryan Zinke of the Department of the Interior continues to stand by President Donald Trump amid controversy over racial violence in Virginia.

In a statement given to The Washington Post, the former U.S. Navy SEAL commander said "violent white supremacist groups" do not belong in America. But he added that he fully supports Trump, as well as Attorney General Jeff Sessions, of the Department of Justice, in "uniting our communities and prosecuting the criminals to the fullest extent of the law.”

“We must respond to hate with love, unity and justice," Zinke said in the statement quoted by The Post.

Some of Zinke's fellow Republicans, though, don't think Trump has unified the nation with his vague, contradictory and even angry remarks about the violence that resulted in the death of Heather Heyer, 32. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), who sought the GOP nomination for president in 2016, said racist groups have been emboldened by the lack of clear leadership from the White House.

"[Y]ou are now receiving praise from some of the most racist and hate-filled individuals and groups in our country," Graham said in a series of Twitter posts directed at Trump, "For the sake of our Nation -- as our President -- please fix this. History is watching us all."

Other Republicans, including the leaders of the House and the Senate, also have condemned racist groups but few have criticized Trump directly. Most of their statements don't even mention the president.

Trump was at one of his properties in New Jersey when the violence occurred on Saturday. Although Sessions quickly announced a "civil rights investigation" into Heyer's death, the president said he did not immediately condemn White supremacist groups because he wanted to "get the facts."

He returned to the White House on Monday and offered a late rebuke to those groups. But after traveling to another one of his properties in New York later in the day with the intent on focusing on his infrastructure agenda, he engaged in combative remarks with reporters on Tuesday and suggested that the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, started off innocently" even though it attracted neo-Nazis, followers of the Ku Klux Klan and anti-Semitic groups, some of whom chanted "Jews will not replace us."

Read More on the Story:
Trump’s isolation grows in the wake of Charlottesville (The Washington Post August 17, 2017)

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