While Donald Trump's failure to denounce white supremacy is nothing new, the Aug. 12 tragedy in Charlottesville was an opportunity for Trump to act like the president he claims to be. But, he didn't, and former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates tore Trump's response to Charlottesville apart with one stinging tweet. The violence that escalated after people attending a planned "Unite the Right" rally clashed with counter-protestors, left three people dead and scores injured when one alt-right member allegedly drove his car into a crowd of pedestrians.
During his press conference Saturday, Trump refused to call out white supremacists, instead choosing to say: "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides — on many sides,” Buzz Feed News reported. "So we want to get the situation straightened out in Charlottesville and we want to study it and we want to see what we're doing wrong as a country, where things like this can happen."
Trump's "many sides" comment has left people seething since — by definition — bigotry can only be experienced on one side, and his comment suggested that victims were partially to blame for what happened.
In her tweet Yates condemned Trump's refusal to take a stand: "The poison spewed by Nazis, white supremacists, and the KKK is not who we are as a country. Takes less than 140 characters to say it."
The poison spewed by Nazis, white supremacists, and the KKK is not who we are as a country. Takes less than 140 characters to say it.— Sally Yates (@SallyQYates) August 13, 2017
It's apparent that many people are less than impressed with Trump's handling of the Charlottesville tragedy. A little more than 12 hours after she posted it Yates' tweet had more than 42,000 retweets, 115,000 likes, and over 2,000 comments. If Trump is having trouble finding the words to reject white supremacy, Yates just provided them to him in less than 140 characters.
Additionally, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe wasted no time letting people know where he stood, and he did what Trump wouldn't. "I have a message to the white supremacists and the Nazis who came into Charlottesville today,” McAuliffe said during an Aug. 12 press conference. “Go home. You are not wanted in this great commonwealth. You pretend that you are patriots, but you are anything but patriots.”
Leading up to the election there are myriad examples of Trump avoiding answering questions about his views on white supremacy. After white nationalists celebrated Trump's victory with Nazi salutes during a conference in Washington, D.C., according to the Huffington Post, Trump issued a vague response via his transition team saying he denounces "racism of any kind," but he did not directly address or condemn the Nazi salutes.