Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) appeared to take a subtle jab at President Donald Trump on Wednesday. But McConnell did not identify Trump by name in a statement condemning white supremacists.
“The white supremacist, KKK, and neo-Nazi groups who brought hatred and violence to Charlottesville are now planning a rally in Lexington,” McConnell wrote in a statement. “Their messages of hate and bigotry are not welcome in Kentucky and should not be welcome anywhere in America.”
He continued: “We can have no tolerance for an ideology of racial hatred. There are no good neo-Nazis, and those who espouse their views are not supporters of American ideals and freedoms. We all have a responsibility to stand against hate and violence, wherever it raises its evil head.”
McConnell’s mention of “no good neo-Nazis” appeared to be a reference to Trump’s press conference Tuesday, in which the President equated white supremacist protesters and the counter-protesters who demonstrated against them over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, who he called “alt-left.”
“I have condemned many different groups. But not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me,” Trump said, referring to the protesters who gathered in Charlottesville, ostensibly to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a park. “Not all of those people were white supremacists, by any stretch.”
“You had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists, OK?” Trump added. “And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly.”
CNN reported Wednesday, citing an unnamed source “close” to McConnell, that the majority leader “is privately upset with the President’s handling of the episode,” and “deeply concerned that Trump is reopening long-festering racial tensions, something that could fan the flames ahead of demonstrations expected in Lexington, Kentucky.”
McConnell and Trump’s relationship has come under strain in recent weeks over the Republican-controlled Senate’s failure to pass major legislation, including the long-hyped effort to repeal Obamacare. McConnell said recently that Trump had “excessive” expectations of the legislative process.