Tags: Charlottesville | Donald Trump | Jeff Sessions | Trump Administration | attorney general | terrorism | speech

Sessions Defends Trump, Calls Charlottesville Killing 'Domestic Terrorism'

"CBS This Morning"

By    |   Monday, 14 August 2017 08:29 AM

President Donald Trump's statement on the Charlottesville, Va., protests was a strong one that took a stand against violence, bigotry and hatred, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday.

His statement has been criticized by both Republicans and Democrats, who say it did not directly address white supremacists.

"He condemned it," Sessions told the "CBS This Morning" program. "He called on us to love one another. He was strong about that."

However, Sessions did agree it was wrong to draw a moral equivalence between the two groups of protesters, and said Heather Heyer, the young woman who was killed when a car plowed into a group of counterprotesters Saturday, lost her life while she was exercising her rights to protest hatred and bigotry.

On a later news program, he said he does consider the incident domestic terrorism.

"This individual had no right to drive a car into people, killing her and seriously injuring others," the attorney general told CBS. "This is absolutely unacceptable. The president has directed us to get after it. Our FBI people are working on it assiduously. Justice will be done. We're coming after these people. It will not be tolerated. It cannot be tolerated in America."

Meanwhile, Trump will "reiterate" his condemnation of neo-Nazis and white supremacy, following a statement issued from the White House on Sunday saying Trump's Saturday statement included those groups. Trump did not sign the Sunday statement, but Sessions said it reflects his views.

"I think you'll continue to hear it explicitly stated," Sessions said. "But his condemnation and the ideology behind this evil white supremacy, it was condemned roundly in his first statement."

Sessions also told CBS he believes it is up to cities and states to decide if statutes of Confederate heroes, such as the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, should be removed, but he would not advocate the monuments be removed.

On ABC, Session also defended the president's statements to "Good Morning America," telling the program that the president "cares about" the topic very deeply.

"He was talking to the nation about a white nationalist rally," Sessions said. "In doing so, he talked about the hatred on many sides. He explicitly condemned the kind of ideology behind these movements of Naziism, white supremacy, the KKK, that is his unequivocal position. He totally opposes those kind of values and his statement yesterday again affirmed that, and I think you'll hear that again today."

He did agree the car attack Saturday meets the definition of domestic terrorism, and the Department of Justice is pursuing the investigation "in every way that we can make a case."

"You can be sure we will charge [the driver] and advance the investigation toward the most serious charges that can be brought, because this is an unequivocally unacceptable and evil attack that cannot be accepted in America. So, absolutely, that is a factor that we'll be looking at."

Sessions said he believes Trump will be speaking again on the topic soon, possibly as early as Monday.

"I plan to meet with him [Monday] and the FBI [on Monday] will be meeting with him to brief him on the case," Sessions said. "He takes it exceedingly seriously, and there's no doubt about it. He opposes these kind of radical racist bigotry that these organizations espouse."

But when asked if Trump will say the names of the groups involved, Sessions said the president "will say what he believes is appropriate," but most likely will refer to them by name.

"He is a strong leader," Sessions said. "He's an outspoken leader. He expresses himself in clear and blunt terms, and the American people elected him. I think that was one of the things they liked about him. And I think he'll be honest and direct with the American people as soon as he talks to them again."

On NBC's "Today" show, Sessions commented there has been violence around the country in any number of ways over the past decades, including "spasms of violence" that are unacceptable.

"These problems have been going on for a long time," Sessions said. "He said what happened in Charlottesville is unacceptable, we need to find out what happened, that it's wrong, and we need to study it and see what as a nation we can do to be more effective against this extremism, and evil, really. I thought it was a good statement."

Meanwhile, Sessions himself has come under fire by the president, who singled him out for criticism on Twitter and elsewhere after the chose to recuse himself from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. He said Monday the president has not apologized, and Trump is a person who is "quite frank about his concerns, and he expressed them openly."

Sessions, though, said he still believes in Trump's agenda and leadership.

"He has a right to scold his Cabinet members if he's not happy with them, and he has a right to have people in his Cabinet that he believes will serve his agenda," Sessions said. "I look forward to meeting with him [Monday] and to talking about the issues that face us right now. I appreciate the opportunity to serve in his administration."

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President Donald Trump's statement on the Charlottesville protests was a strong one that took a stand against violence, bigotry and hatred, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday.
attorney general, terrorism, speech, protests
Monday, 14 August 2017 08:29 AM
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