President Trump's national security adviser appeared to go further than the president by suggesting that the car-ramming in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left a woman dead Saturday may be domestic terrorism.
National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster was asked by ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on ABC News' "This Week" today whether the car-ramming following a white nationalist gathering in the Virginia city was domestic terrorism.
"Anytime that you commit an attack against people to incite fear, it meets the definition of terrorism," McMaster said.
The Army lieutenant general didn’t definitively call the plowing of a car into demonstrators in Charlottesville terrorism, however. He said the allegation that the man now in police custody deliberately drove the car into the crowd, killing a 32-year-old woman, is "criminal."
"What you see here, is a criminal act. A criminal act that may be motivated by this hatred and bigotry,” he said.
“We can’t tolerate this kind of bigotry and call all Americans to take a stand against it ... Tolerance has to overcome this kind of hatred, this kind of hatred that is grounded, really, in ignorance,” McMaster said.
Stephanopoulos asked McMaster about criticism of the president's statement about the Charlottesville violence Saturday, when he said that the U.S. condemns the display of hatred and violence "on many sides."
"He didn’t call out the white supremacists responsible for the violence," Stephanopoulos said. "When it comes to radical Islamic terrorism, the president said you can’t solve the problem if you don’t say the name. Doesn’t that hold true for domestic terrorism as well?"
McMaster said, "What the president did is he called out anyone, anyone who is responsible for fomenting this kind of bigotry, hatred, racism, and violence. And I think the president was very clear on that."
Following the controversy around the president’s remark Saturday, a White House spokesperson on Sunday 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."
Stephanopoulos also asked the national security adviser about Trump's warning that North Korea "would be met by fire and fury" if it continued to threaten the U.S.
"There are new threats from North Korea every single day," Stephanopoulos said. "They’ve already crossed that line."
"Yes, there certainly are," McMaster said. "Our response is we are prepared militarily to deal with this if necessary. But we’re taking all possible actions short of military action to resolve this very grave threat to the United States and the world. And that includes a very, a very determined diplomatic effort led by our Secretary of State."
Stephanopoulos continued, "But just to be clear, threats alone will not provoke a U.S. military response, will they?"
"Well, it depends on the nature of the threat, right?" McMaster said. "And so this is why what Kim Jong Un is doing is very, very dangerous."
McMaster also addressed President Trump's comment Friday that the U.S. could pursue "a military option" in Venezuela although the national security adviser had himself said earlier that he didn't think outside military intervention would be necessary in the Latin American country.
"The president’s main focus is on the rights and safety of the Venezuelan people," McMaster said. "And what’s moved the president in this last week is the escalation of the violence, the regime’s violence, these thugs, who operate in the name of [Venezuelan President Maduro], against the legitimate opposition to his new dictatorship."
He continued that President Trump "never takes options off the table in any of these situations."