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August 16, 2017

Following Charlottesville, Toomey says there's 'no room for corrupt ideology or violent acts'

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., is the latest politician to weigh in on the events that took place during white supremacy rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend that left dozens injured and three dead.

"There is no moral equivalency between neo-Nazis, bigots, and white supremacists, and those who oppose them," Toomey said in a statement on Twitter following Tuesday's press conference from President Donald Trump that blamed both protesters and counterprotesters. "Our country has no room for corrupt ideology or violent acts."

In a more strongly worded statement, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said on Twitter shortly after Trump's comments that white nationalists "fueled this attack and they must be held accountable."

A "Unite the Right" rally organized initially to show opposition to the removal of a statue of Confederate leader Robert E. Lee drew many from across the country. A 32-year-old woman, Heather Heyer, who was protesting against the rally, died after a car drove into a group of activists.

Trump first faced criticism for putting blame on both sides during a press conference earlier this week but then called members of the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and white supremacists "criminals and thugs" after he seemingly faced mounting pressure.

Trump doubled down Tuesday, however.

"What about the alt-left that came charging at, as you say, the alt-right, do they have any semblance of guilt ... What about the fact they came charging with clubs in hands, swinging clubs?" Trump said. "Do they have any problem? I think they do." 

The president said that not all involved in Saturday's "Unite the Right" rally were white supremacists.

"I’ve condemned neo-Nazis," he said. "I’ve condemned many different groups. But not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue, Robert E. Lee."

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., strongly opposed Trump, calling his comments a form of "betrayal" and "sick." Toomey, who faced criticism earlier this year from Philadelphians for never having held an in-person town hall meeting with constituents, joined other Republicans is denouncing hate groups.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan called white supremacy "repulsive" while former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said the two sides were from "morally different universes."