White nationalist demonstrators use shields as they clash with counter demonstrators at the entrance to Lee Park in Charlottesville, Virginia, Saturday, August 12, 2017.   Hundreds of people chanted, threw punches, hurled water bottles and unleashed chemical sprays on each other Saturday after violence erupted at a white nationalist rally in Virginia. At least one person was arrested.
Steve Helber/AP
White nationalist demonstrators use shields as they clash with counter demonstrators at the entrance to Lee Park in Charlottesville, Virginia, Saturday, August 12, 2017. Hundreds of people chanted, threw punches, hurled water bottles and unleashed chemical sprays on each other Saturday after violence erupted at a white nationalist rally in Virginia. At least one person was arrested.
Now playing
02:00
Trump's words are making racism OK
steve cortes ctn 08062018
CNN
steve cortes ctn 08062018
Now playing
02:29
Panelist: Trump is the Mayweather of politics
US President Donald Trump applauds during a rally for Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) at the Von Braun Civic Center September 22, 2017 in Huntsville, Alabama. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump applauds during a rally for Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) at the Von Braun Civic Center September 22, 2017 in Huntsville, Alabama. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:11
Trump has unusual ways of talking about race
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 15:  U.S. President Donald Trump listens to a question as he speaks to members of the White House Press Corps prior to his Marine One departure from the South Lawn of the White House December 15, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Alex Wong/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 15: U.S. President Donald Trump listens to a question as he speaks to members of the White House Press Corps prior to his Marine One departure from the South Lawn of the White House December 15, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:20
Trump often says he's 'the least racist person'
Michael Eric Dyson on New Day 07/05
CNN
Michael Eric Dyson on New Day 07/05
Now playing
02:46
Author: Trump talks like a racist, thinks like a racist
ac360 01112018
CNN
ac360 01112018
Now playing
01:48
Cooper: Don't dance around it, this is racist
Guest: Jack O'Donnell from Chicago, IL Anderson in Flash 52 / Control 41 (channel 64) Time: 515 to 530p   Please record CTL 4100 Fonted Switched Please record CTL 4103 Clean Switched Please record CTL 4138 AC ISO Please record CTL 4139 Splits Please record CTL 4140 Big Smalls Please record INC 905 O'Donnell ISO
CNN
Guest: Jack O'Donnell from Chicago, IL Anderson in Flash 52 / Control 41 (channel 64) Time: 515 to 530p Please record CTL 4100 Fonted Switched Please record CTL 4103 Clean Switched Please record CTL 4138 AC ISO Please record CTL 4139 Splits Please record CTL 4140 Big Smalls Please record INC 905 O'Donnell ISO
Now playing
02:28
O'Donnell: I believe Trump is racist
Now playing
02:31
Trump honors MLK Jr amid controversial comments
CNN
Now playing
02:44
Lemon: Trump's MLK remarks painfully ironic
awkward racial amnesia orig_00011206.jpg
awkward racial amnesia orig_00011206.jpg
Now playing
03:52
How racial amnesia helped Trump win
Pool
Now playing
01:02
Trump responds after a day of NFL protests
nfl protests trump zw js orig_00001313.jpg
nfl protests trump zw js orig_00001313.jpg
Now playing
02:26
#TakeAKnee heats up on and off the field
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 12:  Colin Kaepernick #7 and Eric Reid #35 of the San Francisco 49ers kneel in protest during the national anthem prior to playing the Los Angeles Rams in their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on September 12, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 12: Colin Kaepernick #7 and Eric Reid #35 of the San Francisco 49ers kneel in protest during the national anthem prior to playing the Los Angeles Rams in their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on September 12, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Now playing
00:57
NFL star continues national anthem protest
Now playing
01:41
Panelist: Trump's NFL remark shows privilege
donald trump jefferson washington slaves sot_00004524.jpg
donald trump jefferson washington slaves sot_00004524.jpg
Now playing
01:02
Trump: Are Washington, Jefferson statues next?
David Duke Trump Charlottesville protest nr_00000000.jpg
David Duke Trump Charlottesville protest nr_00000000.jpg
Now playing
00:47
Former KKK leader invokes Trump's name

Story highlights

Mitch McConnell also is taking a cautious approach to the President

The Senate majority leader will need to work with Trump soon to avoid a fiscal crisis

CNN —  

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has publicly avoided criticizing President Donald Trump’s remarks on Charlottesville, is privately upset with the President’s handling of the episode, according to a source close to the Kentucky Republican.

Despite the immediate uproar that Trump caused by his stunning comments Tuesday where he defended some of the protestors during a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, McConnell remained silent and out of public view.

But McConnell, who has a long history of working on civil rights issues, is deeply concerned that Trump is reopening long-festering racial tensions, something that could fan the flames ahead of demonstrations expected in Lexington, Kentucky, the source told CNN.

The morning after Trump’s comments, McConnell released a statement Wednesday ahead of a rally in Lexington similar to the one that turned violent in Charlottesville over the weekend.

“The white supremacist, KKK, and neo-nazi groups who brought hatred and violence to Charlottesville are now planning a rally in Lexington. Their messages of hate and bigotry are not welcome in Kentucky and should not be welcome anywhere in America,” McConnell said in his statement.

While McConnell did not call out Trump by name, he seemed to be alluding to Trump’s statement that were some “very fine” people who attended the white supremacist rally.

“We can have no tolerance for an ideology of racial hatred,” McConnell said. “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.”

The cautious approach comes after Trump lashed the GOP leader repeatedly last week for failing to deliver on health care. McConnell, the source said, did not want to immediately attack Trump for fear that it would look like retribution for their fight last week.

Moreover, McConnell will need to work with the President next month to avoid a fiscal crisis that would occur if Congress can’t reach a deal to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling.

What makes matters awkward for McConnell: His wife, Elaine Chao, serves as Transportation secretary and was standing next to Trump during his Tuesday press conference where he placed blame equally on both white supremacists and the “alt-left” for the deadly violence in Charlottesville over the weekend.

McConnell, who has not had any public events since last week when he criticized the President for having “excessive expectations,” is expected to keep a low profile this week as he continues to fundraise to maintain the GOP Senate majority.