Donald Trump's presidency is unleashing 'the darkest forces in America', says Joe Biden

Former Vice President says billionaire businessman has 'emboldened white supremacists with messages of comfort and support'

Benjamin Kentish
Monday 28 August 2017 16:12
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Donald Trump is allowing the “darkest forces of America” to take over the country, Joe Biden has said.

The former US Vice President joined criticism of the billionaire businessman over his response to far-right protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Mr Trump was widely condemned for saying white supremacist groups and anti-racism campaigners protesting against them were both to blame for the violence. Heather Heyer, 32, was killed and several others injured when a car was driven into crowds of anti-hate protesters. 20-year-old James Fields, who had reportedly attended the far-right rally, has been charged with her murder.

The US President initially refused to directly condemn white supremacist groups and later said there was “blame on both sides” for the clashes.

Writing in The Atlantic, Mr Biden said Mr Trump risked undoing decades of work on civil rights.

He wrote: “The giant forward steps we have taken in recent years on civil liberties and civil rights and human rights are being met by a ferocious pushback from the oldest and darkest forces in America.”

Asking whether it was “really surprising that [the far right] rose up”, Mr Biden said: “Today we have an American president who has publicly proclaimed a moral equivalency between neo-Nazis and Klansmen and those who would oppose their venom and hate.

“We have an American president who has emboldened white supremacists with messages of comfort and support.”

Calling Mr Trump’s stance on race issues a “special challenge”, the former Democrat senator called on Americans to “declare what the President can’t with any clarity, consistency, or conviction: There is no place for these hate groups in America. Hatred of blacks, Jews, immigrants—all who are seen as “the other”—won’t be accepted or tolerated or given safe harbour anywhere in this nation.

Mr Biden said the US is “living through a battle for the soul of this nation”.

Of Mr Trump he said: “He won’t stop. His contempt for the US Constitution and willingness to divide this nation knows no bounds. Now he’s pardoned a law enforcement official who terrorised the Latino community, violated its constitutional rights, defied a federal court order to stop, and ran a prison system so rife with torture and abuse he himself called it a ‘concentration camp’.”

That was a reference to the US President’s decision to formally pardon Joe Arpaio, a former Arizona sheriff who was prosecuted over his treatment of undocumented immigrants. Mr Trump was widely criticised for the decision, including by many in his own party.

Mr Biden has been tipped to run for president in 2020, despite having said he will not stand for elected office again.

He had been considered likely to stand in 2016 but decided not to because his son, Beau, was dying of cancer at the time. The former Vice President has since said he regrets that decision.

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