Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, defended President Trump as someone who "doesn't have a racist bone in his body" as the commander in chief faces backlash over his comments about the violence in Charlottesville over the weekend.
Hatch, who said he spoke with Trump over the phone on the matter, repeated those words throughout an interview with KUTV, a CBS affiliate in Salt Lake City.
"To ascribe racism to the president which some people are trying to do is not only hitting below the belt it's vicious stuff," Hatch said. "He's done a lot to try and help quell racism in this country."
On Saturday, a demonstration held by white supremacy groups and allies protesting the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville turned violent when counter-protesters confronted them. Amid the tense standoff, 19 people were injured and one woman was killed when a car drove into a crowd of counter-protesters.
Trump has faced bipartisan criticism for his remarks regarding the violence, where he initially failed to rebuke white supremacist groups and neo-Nazis. On Monday he did condemn these groups by name, going further than his first statement Saturday, but on Tuesday he doubled back to say there is "blame on both sides."
An aide to Hatch told ABC News that the senator initiated the call and urged Trump not to equivocate when addressing white nationalists and the counterprotesters.
While Hatch conceded to KUTV that the president could have handled the situation better, he also said he believes that Trump made it "very clear" that "there was no excuse for this racism."
Hatch spoke about "those who wold love to undermine him anyway they possibly could," suggesting that people are attempting to distort his message.
The senator also took shots at the mainstream media, against which Trump has waged a war on so-called "fake news."
"He has no friends in the national media -- I don't think at all," Hatch said.