President Trump's latest comments on the deadly attack in Charlottesville are generating intense backlash, even among Republicans and others once thought to be allies in the business community.
The controversy began anew on Tuesday afternoon. Just a day after denouncing the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists by name, the President once again reverted to blaming both sides for the violence in Charlottesville.
"You had a group on one side who was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent," Trump said during a news conference. "I think there is blame on both sides and I have no doubt about it and you don't have any doubt about it either."
The president then went on to defend the controversial "Unite the Right" rally, which attracted the white supremacist, neo-Nazi and KKK groups.
"They were people protesting very quietly, the taking down of the statue of Robert E Lee," Trump said. "I wonder, is it George Washington next week and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You really do have to ask yourself where does it stop?"
The comments led even more business leaders, now a total of six, to leave the president's council on manufacturing and jobs. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka Tweeted, "I cannot sit on a council for a President that tolerates bigotry and domestic terrorism; I resign, effective immediately."
I cannot sit on a council for a President that tolerates bigotry and domestic terrorism; I resign, effective immediately. pic.twitter.com/ip6F2nsoog— Richard L. Trumka (@RichardTrumka) August 15, 2017
The CEO of Minnesota-based 3M has yet to comment on whether he intends to stay on the President's council.
Several Republicans quickly responded to Trumps words. House Speaker Paul Ryan Tweeted, "We must be clear. White supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for. There can be no moral ambiguity."
We must be clear. White supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for. There can be no moral ambiguity.— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) August 15, 2017
Minnesota Republican Representative Erik Paulsen Tweeted, "This is cut-and-dry: White supremacists & neo-Nazis have no place in our society & that should be made unequivocally clear on all levels."
This is cut-and-dry: White supremacists & neo-Nazis have no place in our society & that should be made unequivocally clear on all levels— Rep. Erik Paulsen (@RepErikPaulsen) August 15, 2017
"These are all people, who on some issues, want Donald Trump to succeed," said Hamline University political science professor David Schultz. "But he's taken a position that's so, I would say, out of the mainstream, out of the balance of acceptability, that he's alienating some of the people that are closest to him and just making it impossible for him to get anything done."
Minnesota's State Republican Chair, Jennifer Carnahan, who has defended the President's remarks in recent days, said she doesn't have much to add.
"As I said, you know, the president can speak for himself, Congressional leaders can speak for themselves," Carnahan said in a phone call with KARE 11. "As a state chair of Minnesota, you know, I support the President of the United States."
KARE 11 reached out to Minnesota Republican representatives Tom Emmer and Jason Lewis, but they have yet to comment on the President's statement.
Former KKK leader David Duke did respond to Trump's comments in a Tweet, saying, "Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville"
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