Vega: Trump 'has yet to offer a full rebuke' of Charlottesville 'even in the face of near universal condemnation'

ABC News' Cecilia Vega and Pierre Thomas analyze President Trump's response condemning bigotry "on many sides" following white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
9:08 | 08/13/17

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Transcript for Vega: Trump 'has yet to offer a full rebuke' of Charlottesville 'even in the face of near universal condemnation'
It has no place in America. And with that, let me bring in Cecilia Vega, and Pierre Thomas. Cecilia, let me begin with you. The president's comments being met with fury, even by his own party. Top senators. You have senator orrin hatch saying we should call evil by its name. My brother didn't give his life fighting hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home. Marco Rubio. Very important for the that igs to hear the president. Cory Gardner, Mr. President, we must call evil by it name. The president on Twitter this morning, not taking back that "Many sides" comment. He's yet to offer a full rebuke. We're talking about some of his own supporters. The white house is now trying to clarify what the president meant when he use that "Many sides" comments. They say he was condemning hatred, bigotry. He sai have to Dell you, ivanka Trump tweet stronger word this is morning. She used the word, there's though place in society for white sue Prem schism, neo Nazis. The first lady was the first person in the white house the to come out and offer an official white house condemnation. We saw the president there on camera at bedminster. He was asked point blank if he wants the support of these white supremacists, he ignored the question. We're looking at a potential historymaking moment for this presidency and how he handles this question bore him. Will he outright denounce these groups, many of which have come to his support? It feels like watershed moment. We have seen stronger actions immediately from the justice department. The justice department recognizing a that a car was used as a murder weapon. Quickly launched an investigation into whether this was a hate crime. They're looking into the 20-year-old suspect's background. Who are his friends and associates. Expect agents to conduct searches of his home, work place, and to explore his computers and phones. They want to know if he has tied to organized hate groups. While anyone who engages in violence is wrong, the protesters and counterprotesters, the catalysts for the violence were the klansmen, the neonazis. This morning, there's a need to know if this movement is reemerging and gathering steam. Please stand by. Want to bring in our panel. Matthew dowd, the president did not seem prepared for the magnitude of this moment. Not at all. First, the man and the movement need to be held totally strictly accountable. The guy that did this and the movement he represented. But to step back and reflect a moment on this. Everybody at this table's family, and individuals, and their ancestors, have in some way been harmed by white supremacists over the years. Whether it's Latinos, people of jewish ancestry. Catholics. Women. I went to the new American history museum in philly on Friday. A beautiful place. They have Washington's tent. That he lived in, basically, operate out of for five yours. If you thing about moments in our history, we haven't always honored the sacrifice done by people. We have interred Japanese. It took us a hundred years to ban slavery. Women didn't get the right to vote for 150 years. And more so, think, when you think about this, who shares responsibility many this? It's not the only man, the movement. Anybody that points their fingers at Mexicans and muslims shares responsibility. The president has to share responsibility. The fact is through that campaign, he blew all kind of whistles that those of us who grew up in the Jim crow south, like I did, recognized immediately. It was calling out the white supremacists who felt empowered by it. He should listen to Nikki Haley, his now U.N. Ambassador. She's the one that started bringing down confederate monuments. She did it so graciously, after the killings of mother Emmanuel church. To the point of those emboldened. David duke Friday night. We're determined to take our country back. We're going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That's what we believed in. That's why we voted for him. The president can't seem to find words to denounce this. There are times the president tripes over his own ego. He doesn't do the right thing because the media and his adversaries expect him to do it. I hope what he was talking about here, about the -- others have been involved in this, was something larger. And I hope it's that -- in our celebration of multiculturalism in this country, we have lost the idea of American culture. The idea of citizenship. The idea that there are big things and shared values that unite us. In that sense, yes, I think we're all responsible for a country that looks at what divides us, pits us against each other as opposed to the big things that bring us together. I hope that's where trump was going. It starts with the condemnation of those committing the violence. Ben Rhodes, you worked with president Obama. George, look. All of us who worked the the white house know these are critical moments. I think of president Obama going to Charleston. President bush after 9-11. President Clinton to Oklahoma City. This is a living office. We saw yesterday, the president surrendering the moral authority of the office of the president of the United States. There are huge costs to that to us As a nation. Cecilia, let me bring you back in. I talked to H.R. Mcmaster. He did call out the act of the driver an act of domestic terrorism. It doesn't appear yet that the president is prepared to clarify in way that his critics would hear. No, and the clarification that the white house offered doesn't offer clarification, if you will. You mentioned at the top of the show, that tweet that the president had very Earl will I this morning in the middle of the night. I meep, frankly, bizarre. He sent his best regards to all those injured and condolences to the family of the young woman killed today. Let go back to when president trump was harshly and roundly criticized for delaying his rebuke of David duke. And he was asked point blank, do you denounce David duke? It took him a long time to come around and finally offer that. You know, I think people want to hear a president in this kasem boldened and say these words. He hasn't yet. You heard Joe Biden tweet, there is one side on this, not many sides. We may have a press conference tomorrow. And you can bet if that happens, George, this will be front and center. Likely to be the first question. Pierre Thomas, we have seen a rise in hate crimes documented by the squus tis department over this last year. While the country has made great progress in terms of race, racism remains a disease that plagues this country. It's like cancer. Even when it's in remission, it's still a threat. Since 000, a 52% increase in the number of hate groups. There are now 917 according to the southern poverty law sent person this is a really significant issue that is always lurking in the back ground ready to explode. Can the president learn from his mistakes? We haven't seen that the past. The question is whether he can do it in the future. This is a watershed moment for the does tis department. Not just categorizing the hate crimes Jeff sessions has gone backwards on a lot of things having to do with race. Taking a look at the Obama federal investigations of how police treat people of color. He's saying, let's not do gnat anymore. Let's keep voting rights suppressed. He's doing a lot of things that send signals to these white supremacists. I have learned a lot in life and politics. Usually the first response of what somebody does is usually what they mean. Right? The president opposite response is what he really means. They're going to clean this up. Attempt to clean this up. We already know where the president really is on this. You cannot celebrate and reap the profits of the hunger games and then step back and say, how did that happen? And that's just what's happening right now.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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