South Carolina’s Republican Sen. Tim Scott said Thursday that the president’s “moral authority is compromised.”
The criticism came during an interview with VICE News regarding the initially slow and then combative comments from President Donald J. Trump on the deadly violence at a white supremacist rally last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Scott, South Carolina’s junior U.S. senator, said Trump’s comments on Monday “were strong,” but that his comments on Tuesday “started erasing the comments that were strong.”
“What we want to see from our president is clarity and moral authority,” Scott said. “That moral authority is compromised when Tuesday happens.”
Earlier in the day, Scott seemed to call out Trump in a tweetstorm.
“The moral authority of this nation rests upon clarity of convictions & actions that reinforce our commitment to the greater good for all!” said Scott in one of the tweets.
Scott’s comments to VICE News drew praise from S.C.’s senior U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham on Twitter.
“Tim Scott, a very good man and strong voice for South Carolina,” Graham posted.
Graham has been at the receiving end of Trump’s attacks, after Graham was publicly critical of Trump’s comments regarding the Charlotesville rally.
Trump accused “publicity-seeking” Graham of falsely stating Trump's position on the demonstrators. Graham responded by pleading with Trump for more forceful leadership on the issue.
“(B)ecause of the manner in which you have handled the Charlottesville tragedy, you are now receiving praise from some of the most racist and hate-filled individuals and groups in our country,” Graham said. “For the sake of our Nation – as our President – please fix this.”
Since Tuesday, the number of prominent Republicans openly questioning Trump’s competence and moral leadership has grown. Trump, however, burrowed deeper into the racially charged debate over Confederate memorials and lashed out at other members of his own party.
In addition to being critical of Graham, Trump called Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake “toxic” and praised Flake's potential primary election opponent.
Trump, who is known to try to change the focus of news coverage with an attention-grabbing declaration, also sought to shift Thursday from the white supremacists to the future of statues.
“You can't change history, but you can learn from it,” he tweeted. “Robert E. Lee. Stonewall Jackson — who's next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish. ...
“Also the beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!”
“Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments,” he tweeted.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Cynthia Roldán: @CynthiaRoldan