The number of manufacturing council members who have quit following US President Donald Trump’s remarks about white supremacists has risen to six after a key American labour leader said he was stepping down.
Richard Trumka, President of the 12.5-million-member AFL-CIO, announced on Tuesday: “I cannot sit on a council for a President that tolerates bigotry and domestic terrorism.”
“President Trump’s remarks today repudiate his forced remarks yesterday (Monday) about the KKK and neo-Nazis,” Efe news quoted Trumka as saying, who was the fifth member to tender his resignation.
The American Manufacturing Council, which Trump established in January with about two dozen members, is supposed to meet occasionally to offer the President advice on job growth.
Trumka’s resignation came shortly after Trump told reporters on Tuesday that “both sides” were responsible for violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in Virginia, CNN reported.
Thea Lee, an economist and former deputy Chief of Staff at the AFL-CIO, also resigned from the council.
Four business leaders had already walked away from Trump’s manufacturing council following his reaction to Saturday’s incidents in Charlottesville, where a neo-Nazi killed an anti-racist woman participating in a rally against white supremacists.
Scott Paul, head of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, quit Trump’s manufacturing council earlier on Tuesday. He said on Twitter it was “the right thing for me to do”.
Paul joined Intel’s Chief Executive Brian Krzanich, Merck’s chief Kenneth C. Frazier and Under Armour founder Kevin Plank — who quit the council on Monday.
The President said on Tuesday that “the two sides” shared the blame of racist violence in Charlottesville. “You had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent,” Trump said in a statement.
Regarding business leaders, Trump linked their departure from the council to his government’s pressure on them to manufacture products in the US, and belittled their resignations.
“For every CEO that drops out of the manufacturing council, I have many to take their place. Grandstanders should not have gone on,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Of the remaining members, nine have stated their decision to continue on the council.