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Business leaders step down from White House council over Trump's comments of Virginia violent clashes

Thursday, August 17th 2017 - 07:22 UTC
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JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, of the Strategy and Policy Forum, said he strongly disagreed with Trump's statements, “fanning divisiveness is not the answer”. JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, of the Strategy and Policy Forum, said he strongly disagreed with Trump's statements, “fanning divisiveness is not the answer”.

President Trump has said he is scrapping two business councils after more bosses quit over his handling of violent clashes in Virginia. Business leaders left the White House manufacturing council after the backlash against how he reacted to the far-right rally last weekend.

 The clashes culminated in a woman's death and nearly 20 wounded when a car ploughed into a crowd of anti-fascists. Mr Trump's reaction has sparked outrage and generated global headlines.

His announcement on Twitter came as the heads of 3M, Campbell Soup, Johnson & Johnson, and United Technologies announced their resignations on Wednesday.

Mr Trump said: “Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both.” Before Mr Trump's announcement, the Strategy and Policy Forum announced it was a joint decision to disband the council.

Businesses have been under pressure to distance themselves from Mr Trump over his handling of the clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia.

On Monday, Mr Trump belatedly condemned the white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups that rallied in small Virginia town on Sunday. But in a rancorous news conference on Tuesday he backtracked and again blamed left-wing counter-protesters for the violence too.

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, a member of the Strategy and Policy Forum, released a separate statement on Wednesday saying he strongly disagreed with Mr Trump's recent statements, adding that “fanning divisiveness is not the answer”.

Denise Morrison of Campbell Soup Co said she could not continue to participate in the advisory panel after Mr Trump's comments. Activists had called on Campbell Soup, among other firms, to take action.

At a memorial service in Charlottesville for Heather Heyer, who was killed in the weekend clashes, her mother delivered a powerful message. “They killed my child to shut her up. Well guess what, you just magnified her,” she said before the crowd erupted into a standing ovation.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has faced accusations of racism in the past, said the government may press hate crime charges against the man accused of driving his car and killing Ms Heyer.

Speaking in Miami about undocumented immigration, he said: “In no way can we accept or apologize for racism, bigotry, hatred, violence, and those kind of things that too often arise in our county”.

Two Republican ex-presidents also weighed in. In remarks implicitly critical of President Trump, George HW Bush and son George W Bush called on the US to “reject racial bigotry, anti-Semitism and hatred in all forms”.

Their joint statement adds to a growing chorus of Republicans condemning Mr Trump's opinions on race relations.

Categories: Politics, United States.

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