National security adviser H.R. McMaster said an attack where a car plowed into throngs of people protesting a white supremacist event in Charlottesville, Va., meets the definition of domestic terrorism but legally is now a criminal act.
The attack left one person dead and dozens injured. The driver of the car has been charged with second-degree murder.
"I think any time you make an attack against people to incite fear it is terrorism," he said on ABC's "This Week." He added the attack appears to meet that definition but there will be a proper investigation into the suspect's motivation.
"What you see here is someone who is a criminal, who is committing a criminal act against fellow Americans."
He added the attack was a "criminal act that may have been motivated … by this hatred and bigotry which we have to extinguish in our nation."
McMaster said the public will have to see what the investigation turns up.
Police named 20-year-old James Alex Fields as the driver of the car that plowed into a crowd of counter-protesters against white supremacists in Charlottesville. The attack killed one person and injured 19.
McMaster said every American needs to teach children at the dinner table and in school about American values such as "respect for each other regardless of race or religion."
"We all ought to ask ourselves, as we send our condolences out of the victims of this terrible violence, we ought to ask ourselves what more can all of us do," he said.
Note: The headline on this story has been changed to more accurately reflect the nuance in McMaster's statements.