Attorney General Jeff Sessions condemned "any message of hate and intolerance" at a white supremacist rally after a counter-protester was killed in a vehicular attack.
"This kind of violence is totally contrary to American values and can never be tolerated," Sessions said.
White supremacists and Nazi sympathizers descended on Charlottesville, Va., to protest the planned removal of a statue honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Leftist groups formed a counter-protest and the two sides clashed, culminating in someone driving a car into a crowd of the liberal activists — killing one and sending 19 others to a nearby hospital.
Police have not confirmed they believe the act was intentional.
"I am heartbroken that a life has been lost here. I urge all people of good will--go home," Charlottesville mayor Mike Singer tweeted.
President Trump called for unity during a press conference in Bedminster, N.J. "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides, on many sides," Trump said.
That apparent equivocation drew sharp criticism on Twitter, with even some Republicans calling on him to modify the statement.
"Appreciate [Trump's] effort to heal the nation, but he must be more explicit," Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., tweeted. "Those promoting racism & hatred must be unequivocally condemned."
Sessions followed Trump's lead.
"We stand united behind the President in condemning the violence in Charlottesville and any message of hate and intolerance," he said.