Donald Trump’s condemnation of violence and hate includes “white supremacists”, the White House has said.
The President has been criticised in the wake of deadly violence at a far-right rally for blaming “many sides” for the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left three people dead and dozens more injured.
A far right rally was held to condemn a decision by the city to remove a statue of General Robert E. Lee, a Confederate commander during the Civil War.
The demonstration was met by counter-protesters and events quickly turned ugly, with mass brawls broke out between them and anti-fascists, with people throwing punches, hurling water bottles and using pepper spray as riot police were deployed.
Democrats and Republicans said the President should denounce hate groups by name.
The city’s mayor, Democrat Mike Signer, said he blames Mr Trump for inflaming racial prejudices during his successful campaign for the White House.
Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner said the President “must call evil by its name”.
In response to the criticism, the White House spokesperson said: “The President said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry, and hatred, and of course that includes white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazi, and all extremist groups.
“He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together.”
Mr Trump’s National Security adviser Lieutenant General HR McMaster said the President had been “very clear” that “we cannot tolerate this kind of bigotry”.
He also denied Mr Trump’s initial statement suggested moral equivalence between the far-right demonstrators and the counter-protesters.
Lt Gen McMaster told NBC’s Meet the Press: “What he (Mr Trump) did is he called on all Americans to take a firm stand against it.
“This is a great opportunity for us to ask ourselves, what are we teaching our children.
“Tolerance has to overcome this kind of hatred. This kind of hatred that is grounded really in ignorance. Ignorance of our values and what makes us unique as Americans.”
Mr Signer told the same programme the killing of a 32-year-old woman when a car rammed into a group of people demonstrating against the presence of white supremacists was a “terrorist attack with a car used as a weapon”.
Heather Heyer was crossing the street when she was struck, with the vehicle also hitting a group of anti-Nazi campaigners.
The car’s driver, James Alex Fields Jr, has been charged with second degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and one counted related to leaving the scene.
Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-pilot Berke M.M. Bates also died after a Virginia State Police helicopter that had been assisting with policing the rally crashed.