President Donald Trump delivered his remarks to the nation about the violent white nationalist protest taking place in Charlottesville, Virginia, during a pre-scheduled press conference Saturday to announce the signing of a new bill providing funding for the Veterans Affairs department.
Hundreds of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and members of the Ku Klux Klan gathered in Charlottesville for a rally called Unite the Right, to protest the removal of a statue of confederate general Robert E. Lee on the University of Virginia campus.
The president spoke from Bedminster, New Jersey, where he is currently on a 17-day “working vacation.”
Here is a transcript of Trump’s remarks in full.
Thank you very much. As you know, this was a small press conference, but a very important one. And it was scheduled to talk about the great things that we’re doing with the secretary on the veterans administration. And we will talk about that very much so in a little while. But I thought I should put out a comment as to what’s going on in Charlottesville. So, again, I want to thank everybody for being here, in particular I want to thank our incredible veterans. And thank you, fellas. Let me shake your hand.
They’re great people. Great people. But 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. 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.
I just got off the phone with the governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, and we agree that the hate and the division must stop, and must stop right now. We have to come together as Americans with love for our nation and true affection– really, I say this so strongly, true affection for each other. Our country is doing very well in so many ways. We have record — just absolute record employment. We have unemployment the lowest it’s been in almost 17 years. We have companies pouring into our country, Foxconn and car companies and so many others. They’re coming back to our country. We’re renegotiating trade deals to make them great for our country and great for the American worker.
We have so many incredible things happening in our country, so when I watch Charlottesville, to me it’s very, very sad. I want to salute the great work of the state and local police in Virginia. Incredible people. Law enforcement, incredible people. And also the National Guard. They’ve really been working smart and working hard. They’ve been doing a terrific job. Federal authorities are also providing tremendous support to the governor. He thanked me for that. And we are here to provide whatever other assistance is needed. We are ready, willing and able. Above all else, we must remember this truth: No matter our color, creed, religion or political party, we are all Americans first. We love our country. We love our god.
We love our flag. We’re proud of our country. We’re proud of who we are, so we want to get the situation straightened out in Charlottesville, and we want to study it. And we want to see what we’re doing wrong as a country where things like this can happen. My administration is restoring the sacred bonds of loyalty between this nation and its citizens, but our citizens must also restore the bonds of trust and loyalty between one another. We must love each other, respect each other and cherish our history and our future together. So important. We have to respect each other. Ideally, we have to love each other.