Mike Pence and the White House have scrambled to defend Donald Trump after the president failed to specifically condemn white supremacists following violence at a far-right rally in Charlottesville that left three people dead.
A state of emergency was declared in Virginia this weekend after the rally - thought to be the largest gathering of white supremacists in the US for over a decade - turned violent, leaving at least 35 others injured and one 32-year-old woman dead after a car ploughed into the crowd.
Two state troopers also died when their helicopter crashed while responding to the situation.
Trump sparked criticism and fury from politicians across the spectrum when he condemned hatred and violence “on many sides” while speaking about the unrest, failing to single out the white supremacists or the neo-Nazis who brought torches and bats to the rally.
According to CNN, the president walked out of the press conference on Saturday when he was asked about a white nationalist.
But speaking last night, vice president Pence praised Trump’s response to the emergency, saying he had “clearly and unambiguously” condemned the violence.
“We have no tolerance for hate and violence, white supremacists or neo-Nazis or the KKK,” Pence said according to The Hill.
He then took aim at reporters for raising questions about Trump’s initial response to the violence.
“I take issue with the fact that many in the national media spent more time criticising the president’s words than they did criticising those that perpetuated the violence to begin with,” Pence added.
The vice-president’s comments sparked an angry response from many journalists and commentators, with some calling him “an obsequious, unprincipled courtier”:
On Sunday, the White House also issued a second statement about Charlottesville that specifically mentioned “white supremacists, KKK, Neo-Nazi and all extremist groups”, condemning “all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred”.
“He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together,” a White House spokesperson said about the president.
Charlottesville vice mayor Dr Wes Bellamy said he still hadn’t heard from Trump, adding that he “probably didn’t expect to hear from 45”.
However, Bellamy said he remains hopeful that the president “comes out and does a much better job of addressing and calling out these white supremacist acts”.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4 this morning, he said: “I think it would send a very strong message. This is a real leadership opportunity for him, but he has yet to do so and I’ve seen some people saying now if he comes out and does it it will only be for show but I think it would be beneficial.”