Trump moves to condemn "repugnant" hate groups

The US President has come in for heavy criticism over his failure to explicitly condemn the groups

US President Donald Trump has explicitly condemned hate groups as “repugnant” and declared racism to be evil.

Last night he moved to denounce the likes of the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis - two days after a woman died during racial violence in Virginia.

The delay in calling out the far right groups has led to much criticism and President Trump was greeted by protesters on his arrival in New York overnight.

At a news conference at the White House on Monday, Mr Trump said: "Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America.

"Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans."

Mr Trump said anyone found to have acted criminally would be held "fully accountable", adding that: "No matter the colour of our skin we all live under the same laws, we all salute the same great flag, and we are all made by the same almighty God."

Delayed condemnation

At the weekend, Mr Trump had claimed "many sides" were involved in the violence, but stopped short of condemning white supremacists.

The US President has been at his New Jersey golf club on a "working vacation," but returned to Washington on Monday to sign an executive action on China's trade policies.

On Monday, US attorney general Jeff Sessions said the death of paralegal Heather Heyer, 32, who was killed when a car ploughed into a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, "does meet the definition of domestic terrorism in our statute."

He told ABC: "You can be sure we will charge and advance the investigation towards the most serious charges that can be brought, because this is an unequivocally unacceptable and evil attack that cannot be accepted in America."

The man arrested over Ms Heyer's death - 20-year-old James Fields - appeared in court on Monday on a second-degree murder charge. He was held without bail.

Presidential response

It comes as Merck chief executive Kenneth Frazier - one of America's most prominent black executives - quit the US President's American Manufacturing Council over Mr Trump's response to the violence.

In a tweet announcing his resignation, Mr Frazier said: "America's leaders must honour our fundamental views by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal."

The US President hit back, saying that now that "Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from the President's Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to lower rip-off drug prices."

Several executives from top US companies have stepped down from a number of presidential advisory councils in protest over Mr Trump's policies.

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk and Walt Disney chief executive Robert Iger quit the Strategic and Policy Forum in June after Mr Trump announced the US would withdraw from the Paris climate accord.

Mr Musk has also left the manufacturing council.

Former Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick left the President's business advisory council in February amid pressure from his company over the Trump administration's immigration policies.