Charlottesville violence: After top CEOs desert Donald Trump, White House officials to follow?

President Donald Trump recently blamed “many sides” for the Charlottesville violence in Virgnia. (AP Photo/File) Related News

Following US President Donald Trump’s decision on Tuesday to once again blame “many sides” for the violence that took place on August 12, chief executives at companies such as Merck & Co Inc, Under Armour Inc, Corp, Campbell Soup Co and 3M Co have quit advisory councils to the White House. Soon enough, the President’s business advisory groups were disbanded by Trump himself. The Manufacturing Council and Strategy & Policy Forum were formed last year to advise Trump on economic issues.

But before the most influential CEOs of the country could make a statement announcing their decision, Trump, who reportedly got a whiff about the defection, took matters into his own hands. “Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!” he wrote on Twitter. The development is likely to cause a huge blow to Trump whose support base included corporate leaders.

It has also led to conjectures that top White House economic adviser Gary Cohn, who is a Jew, may resign as a mark of protest. Sources, however, have told Reuters that Cohn, though upset with Trump’s remarks would, for now, stay in the administration. When Trump reverted his statements on neo-Nazis and white supremacists on Tuesday, blaming “alt-left” for the Charlottesville violence, Cohn looked “self-conscious and uncomfortable.”

“He just did not want to be in that position … and he was not good at hiding his body language for that,” a former administration official who knows Cohn was quoted as saying by Reuters.

The business executives, however, are not the only ones experiencing discomfiture. Speculations suggest some top officials in the Trump administration might quit amid apprehensions that the US President’s comments might damage their own reputation.

“A lot of us joined this administration thinking we could bring to it the experience and expertise that the president didn’t have an opportunity to gain in his business career, and to encourage some restraint in what he says publicly and to our allies,” a senior official who is contemplating whether to resign told Reuters. Referring to Trump’s new chief of staff retired General John Kelly, the official continued: “After yesterday, it’s clear that there is no way for anyone, even a Marine general, to restrain his (Trump’s) impulses or counter what he sees on TV and reads on the web.”

A group of counter-protesters rally against members of white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Source: Reuters)

On Saturday, hundreds of white nationalists gathered in Charlottesville to protest the removal of the statue of Confederate general Robert E Lee from a park. Protests took a violent turn after the white nationalists groups, including neo-Nazis and KKK members, clashed with counter demonstrators. One woman was killed after a 20-year-old rammed a car into the crowd injuring at least 19 others.

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