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Rex Tillerson: President Trump ‘speaks for himself’

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday that President Donald Trump “speaks for himself” when asked whether the President’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, raised questions about Trump’s values.

Tillerson said on “Fox News Sunday” that the United States was committed to freedom and “equal treatment of people the world over” when posed the question by anchor Chris Wallace.

“I don’t believe anyone doubts the American people’s values,” Tillerson said.

“And the President’s values?” Wallace asked.

“The President speaks for himself,” Tillerson said.

Last week, a United Nations committee issued a warning to the United States about racism and hate crimes, saying US leaders had not sufficiently condemned white supremacy. Trump was widely criticized for his response to the racially motivated violence in Charlottesville, in which he said “both sides” — white supremacists and those protesting them — were responsible for the clashes that left one woman dead and dozens injured.

Trump initially blamed the violence on “many sides,” but amid mounting criticism, he called out white supremacists and hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan specifically a couple of days later. Then, then next day, he generated further controversy with his “both sides” remark during a press conference at Trump Tower.

Wallace mentioned the UN criticism in his question to Tillerson about Trump’s comments.

“Are you separating yourself from that, sir?” Wallace continued, referring to Trump’s statements and how that might affect others’ perceptions of US values.

“I made my own comments as to our values as well in a speech at the State Department last week,” Tillerson replied.

In that speech earlier this month, Tillerson delivered a condemnation of both hate and those who “protect or accept hate speech” in any form — a sharp contrast with the comments made by Trump.

“It’s simply important to say — although I think it’s well understood and embraced, I’m certain, by everyone in this room — we all know hate is not an American value, nowhere is it an American value,” the top US diplomat said.

“Those who embrace it poison our public discourse and they damage the very country that they claim to love,” Tillerson said. “So we condemn racism and bigotry in all its forms.”

“Racism is evil — it is antithetical to America’s values, it is antithetical to the American idea,” Tillerson said.

In the past, Tillerson has come under fire for saying, as he did in May, that US foreign policy should sometimes separate values such as freedom, human dignity and “the way people are treated” from policies it pursues around the world.

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