The vehicle attack in Charlottesville, Va. that left one woman dead on Saturday was an act of terrorism, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said on Sunday.
“I certainly think any time that you commit an attack against people to incite fear, it is terrorism. It meets the definition of terrorism,” McMaster said in an interview on ABC News’ “This Week.”
James Alex Fields Jr., 20, was arrested Saturday and charged with second-degree murder in the attack. Video footage appears to show him driving his 2010 Dodge Challenger into a group of counter-protesters who were in Charlottesville to demonstrate against white nationalists and neo-Nazis who were rallying against the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue.
Fields was photographed earlier in the day with a group of white nationalists.
The video footage showed Fields plowing his car into a large group of people before slamming into the back of another vehicle. As people swarmed his car, he sped off in reverse.
Heather Heyer, 32, was killed in what authorities say was an intentional attack. Nineteen others were reportedly injured.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Justice Department and FBI will investigate the attack.
McMaster’s description of the attack as terrorism comes as President Trump is being accused of not issuing a strong enough condemnation of the attack or the white nationalist protesters.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides,” Trump said in a statement Saturday.
Trump critics said that his statement implied that counter-protesters were as violent on Saturday as the white nationalists and neo-Nazis.
McMaster was asked about Trump’s statement in an interview on Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“When he condemned bigotry and hatred on all sides, that includes white supremacists and neo-Nazis, and I…know it’s clear in his mind, it ought to be clear to all Americans, we cannot tolerate, obviously, that bigotry, that hatred that is rooted in ignorance,” McMaster said.
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