Former CIA Director John Brennan slammed President Trump for his comments Tuesday about the violence in Charlottesville, Va., calling them "a national disgrace" and warning the president is putting the country's national security and "our collective futures at grave risk."
"Mr. Trump's words, and the beliefs they reflect, are a national disgrace, and all Americans of conscience need to repudiate his ugly and dangerous comments," Brennan said in a note sent to CNN's Wolf Blitzer, which he read on air Wednesday. "If allowed to continue along this senseless path, Mr. Trump will do lasting harm to American society and to our standing in the world.
"By his words and his actions, Mr. Trump is putting our national security and our collective futures at grave risk," Brennan added.
Brennan, who was CIA director during the Obama administration, also called Trump's comments "despicable."
Exclusive: Former CIA Director Brennan tells CNN that Mr. Trump is putting our national security and our collective futures at grave risk. pic.twitter.com/8haLgh7VfU— The Situation Room (@CNNSitRoom) August 16, 2017
Blitzer said that Brennan sent the message Tuesday in response to an interview the CNN host conducted with Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.
White nationalist groups clashed with counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Va., during a weekend white nationalist rally to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
One woman died and 19 were injured after a 20-year-old man, James Alex Fields, allegedly drove his car into a crowd of counter-demonstrators.
The president made initial remarks about the violence Saturday and said "many sides" were to blame for the violence in Charlottesville, a comment that earned Trump criticism from Republicans and Democrats who urged the president to condemn the specific white nationalist groups involved.
After returning to Washington, D.C., for meetings Monday, Trump issued a second statement denouncing the "KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans."
Then, during an impromptu press conference at Trump Tower in New York City on Tuesday, Trump reiterated his initial statement that both sides were to blame for the violence in Charlottesville and added that not all of those who attended the rally were racist — comments that stunned Republicans and Democrats.
"You had some very bad people in that group," Trump said. "You also had some very fine people on both sides."