The Fallout: Trump faces growing backlash over comments about Charlottesville
The President dissolved two business adversary councils on Wednesday after several chief executive officers quit over his remarks about last weekend"s violence…
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President Donald Trump dissolved two White House business-focused groups—his Manufacturing Council and his Strategic & Policy Forum—after a number of industry chief executives resigned from the council over his remarks about last weekend's violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. Trump's words implicated that white supremacist protesters were morally equivalent with aggressive counter-protesters.
Trump’s remarks on Charlottesville included a condemnation of "both sides", referring to left-wing activists and white supremacist groups. Among the "violent' left activists are the so-called "antifa", who see themselves as fighting fascism through direct action.
The President disbanded the American Manufacturing Council, which had seen a gradual exodus of its members - including the CEOs of Intel, Merck, Under Armour and the president of the US's largest labor federation, the AFL-CIO - since Monday, and the Strategic and Policy Forum, whose members decided to step down en masse on Wednesday.
"Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy (sic) & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!" Trump tweeted.
"The decision suggests Trump is embracing white identity politics at the cost of the jobs agenda that also helped him get elected—yet in practice, the key pieces of his business-friendly policy will remain," as reported in The Atlantic.
The President's remarks have not only disappointed industry leaders but also have sparked condemnation from Donald Trump's fellow Republicans, including Sens. John McCain and Marco Rubio; the speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan; and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina issued the strongest critic from his party so far. “Mr President, I encourage you to try to bring us together as a nation after this horrific event in Charlottesville. Your words are dividing Americans, not healing them,”he said, as reported in The Guardian.
Two Bush Presidents, George HW Bush and George W Bush, joined the rebuke on Wednesday issuing a joint statement that condemned “racial bigotry, antisemitism and hatred”," referring to the the far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. (but without mentioning directly the President's name).
Meanwhile, the White House held firm, issuing a series of talking points to congressional Republicans that asserted “the President was entirely correct,” along with a transcript of his inflammatory press conference.
Trump was broadly criticized for his remarks at a Tuesday press conference about the events in Charlottesville, where white supremacists had obtained permits for a Saturday rally to protest plans to remove a statue in that city of Gen. Robert E. Lee, the army commander of the pro-slavery Confederacy during the 1861-1865 American Civil War.
The situation turned deadly Saturday afternoon when a suspected neo-Nazi plowed his car into a crowd at an intersection in Charlottesville, killing one female counter-protester and injuring more than a dozen other people.
On Tuesday, Trump grew irritated at journalists who pressed him to more vehemently denounce the far-right protesters and said leftist activists had also acted lawlessly.
"You had a group on one side that was bad. And you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that, but I'll say it right now. You had a group - you had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit, and they were very, very violent," the president said, as reported in EFE.
In his most controversial remarks, Trump spoke favorably of some of the people protesting the removal of the statue.
"Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch."
"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," McConnell said.
In the meantime, cities across the U.S. have been removing Confederate monuments like the one at the center of the protests in Charlottesville.