Politics & Government

Burr denounces white supremacists and calls Trump ‘misguided’

Sen. Richard Burr Wednesday called President Donald Trump “misguided” for equating white supremacists in Charlottesville with those who protested them.

On Tuesday Trump said there was “blame on both sides” in the violence that led to the death of one counter-protester. His comments drew fire from many corners – including from Republicans.

“I think the president’s misguided in his last statements,” Burr said Wednesday in a video interview tweeted by a Greensboro News & Record reporter. “I think that the commander-in-chief should be very specific about our way forward, not embracing what they did … so I disagree with him on that. But I think the United States people have condemned the act.”

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina went further, accusing Trump of “dividing Americans.” He invoked counter-protester Heather Heyer, killed by an auto driven by a white supremacist.

“Your words are dividing Americans, not healing them,” Graham said. “Through his statements yesterday, President Trump took a step backward by again suggesting there is moral equivalency between the white supremacist neo-Nazis and KKK members who attended the Charlottesville rally and people like Ms. Heyer. I, along with many others, do not endorse this moral equivalency.”

Without addressing the president’s remarks directly, Sen. Thom Tillis condemned the white supremacists.

“When it comes to white supremacists & neo-nazis, there can be no equivocating: they’re propagators of hate and bigotry. Period,” he tweeted Tuesday after Trump’s remarks.

Burr called the Charlottesville incident “domestic terrorism.”

“This was a group that was intent on a violent act,” he told WXII TV station Tuesday. “That’s the only reason you would wear helmets, body armor and bring sticks or bats.”

In a statement Wednesday, Rep. Robert Pittenger, a Charlotte Republican, said, “The actions of white supremacists should be condemned in like manner as Islamic terrorists. There is no place in our society for pernicious violence and racial hatred.”

Democratic Rep. Alma Adams of Charlotte blasted the president Wednesday.

“When the President was elected he promised to unite us,” she said in a statement. “Yesterday, the President’s erratic and despicable press conference slammed the door on that promise. President Trump has tragically become the divisive demagogue we feared he would be.”

During an appearance in New Mexico Tuesday, the Rev. William Barber, head of the North Carolina NAACP, urged political leaders to condemn the white supremacists.

“We must make a moral choice,” Barber said. “We can take the righteous road of repair … or we can, as we did half a century ago, follow those who would lead our nation down the road of denial and retreat.”

Coin Campbell and Aaron Moody of the (Raleigh) News & Observer and William Douglas of the McClatchy Washington Bureau contributed.

Jim Morrill: 704-358-5059, @jimmorrill