Attorney General Jeff Sessions says “too much has been read into” President Trump’s statement Saturday amid violence at a protest in Charlottesville, Va., related to the removal of a Confederate monument. Sessions told NBC’s “Today” that Trump had “explicitly condemned” violence and that “he totally opposes” the values espoused by white supremacy organizations, the Associated Press reports. Trump cited violence “on many sides.” Sessions said he expects Trump to say more, saying “I think you’ll hear that again today.” Sessions said he and FBI officials have a meeting scheduled with Trump today, adding, “we’re on this case.” Trump, who has been at his New Jersey golf club on a working vacation, was set to make a one-day return to Washington to sign an executive action on China’s trade practices.
Senior White House aides were dispatched to the morning news shows, yet they struggled to explain the president’s position on Charlottesville. A White House statement on Sunday explicitly denounced the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi groups, but it was attributed to an unnamed spokesperson and not the president. James Alex Fields Jr., a 20-year-old man accused of plowing a car into a crowd of activists in Charlottesville, killing one person and injuring 19, long sympathized with Nazi views and had stood with a group of white supremacists hours before Saturday’s bloody crash, the Washington Post reports. Fields had espoused extremist ideals at least since high school, said history teacher Derek Weimer. Weimer, who taught Fields during his junior and senior years at Randall K. Cooper High School in Kentucky, said, “It was obvious that he had this fascination with Nazism and a big idolatry of Adolf Hitler. He had white supremacist views. He really believed in that stuff.”