U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham called on President Donald Trump to take a stronger stance against white supremacy groups and “dissuade these groups that he’s their friend.”
Graham’s comments on Fox News Sunday came one day after a man plowed a car into a group of people protesting the presence of white supremacists at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing a woman and injuring nearly 20 people. While addressing the violent events Saturday, Trump condemned “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides” without specifically naming white supremacists or racists.
“He missed an opportunity to be very explicit here,” Graham, R-Seneca, told Fox News host Chris Wallace. “These groups seem to believe they have a friend in Donald Trump in the White House. I don't know why they believe that, but they don't see me as a friend in the Senate. I would urge the president to dissuade these groups that he's their friend.”
Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke was in attendance at Saturday’s rally, the purpose of which, he said, was “to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump,” according to the Associated Press.
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Trump has faced bipartisan criticism for failing to denounce racist and white nationalist groups during his remarks Saturday.
Graham called white supremacist groups “enemies of freedom” and said Saturday’s attack was “an act of domestic terrorism.” He told Wallace he would like to see a task force between the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security “to look at the size and scope of these groups” and report its findings to Congress.
“I would urge the president to dissuade them of the fact that he’s sympathetic to their cause because their cause is hate,” Graham said. “It is un-American. They are domestic terrorists and we need more from our president on this issue.”