Donald Trump has condemned the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides” during clashes between white supremacists and anti-fascist protesters in Virginia.
In a speech, the US President did not specifically condemn the far-right groups who gathered in Charlottesville — including some carrying assault rifles and wearing paramilitary-style clothing — to protest about plans to remove a statue to Confederate General Robert E Lee.
Instead he appeared to apportion blame to all those involved in the fighting.
This sparked outrage among some leading Republicans with Senator Orrin Hatch writing that his brother “didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home”.
One person was killed when a car drove into a crowd of anti-fascists and more than 40 people were hurt as a result of that incident and fighting elsewhere in the town.
“We’re closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia. We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides,” Mr Trump said.
“It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time.
“It has no place in America. What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives.
“No citizen should ever fear for their safety and security in our society, and no child should ever be afraid to go outside and play, or be with their parents, and have a good time.”
However his comments provoked a backlash from several members of his own party.
A Republican senator from Colorado, Cory Gardner, tweeted “Mr President – we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism.”
Another Republican, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, wrote: “Nothing patriotic about Nazis, the KKK or White Supremacists. It’s the direct opposite of what America seeks to be.”