Trump Asked to Fire White House Staffers in Wake of Charlottesville

WASHINGTON (CN) – The leaders of four minority House caucus groups have sent a letter to President Donald Trump, calling for the removal of White House aides Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller and Sebastian Gorka.

The heads of the black, Hispanic, Asian and progressive caucuses are calling in the letter for the firings of the Trump administration officials in the wake of a violent, racist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The letter asserts their continuing presence in the White House is emboldening a resurgent white supremacist movement in America.

“Americans deserve to know that white nationalists, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis are not in a position to influence U.S. policy,” the letter says. “In this time of tumult in our country, Americans deserve a leader that will bring us all together and denounce those who seek to tear us apart.”

Bannon, the White House chief strategist, formerly ran the Breitbart website and gleefully described it as a “platform for the alt-right.”

Miller, Trump’s chief speechwriter and policy director, is a Bannon protégé, and Gorka, a deputy assistant to the president, is a former Breitbart editor and author of the best-selling “Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War.”

It was only last week that Gorka, in an appearance on a Breitbart News Daily radio show, defended the white nationalist movement.

On the show, Gorka held that supremacists were not the problem while mocking New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, who has written critically about the administration.

“Oh, it’s the white man. It’s the white supremacists. That’s the problem’ No, it isn’t, Maggie Haberman,” he said.

Fallout from the president’s initial, underwhelming reaction to Saturday’s violent clashes in Virginia have dogged the White House ever since and led to a series of resignations from one of Trump’s business advisory groups.

Kevin Plank, CEO of Under Armour, and Intel CEO Brian Krzanich  both announced late Monday night that they were stepping down from the president’s manufacturing council, and on Tuesday they were joined in their exodus by Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing.

Their departures follow that of Merck CEO Ken Frazier, who said he was disturbed by the president’s response to Charlottesville, and called his choosing not to serve on the council, a “matter of personal conscience.”

Trump wasted no time to attack Frazier on Twitter after news of his resignation broke.

“Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from the President’s Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES,” the president tweeted, adding in a second blast at the CEO: “Pharma is a leader in higher & higher drug prices while at the same time taking jobs out of the U.S. Bring jobs back & LOWER PRICES.”

In a statement, Krzanich said, “I resigned to call attention to the serious harm our divided political climate is causing to critical issues, including the serious need to address the decline of American manufacturing. Politics and political agendas have sidelined the important mission of rebuilding America’s manufacturing base.”

Walmart’s chief executive joined the chorus of disapproval over President Trump’s response to the events  in Charlottesville, saying the president “missed a critical opportunity to help bring our country together.”

The criticism came in a statement that the retailer’s chief executive, Doug McMillon, emailed to employees Monday evening. The statement was later posted on a company website.

“As we watched the events and the response from President Trump over the weekend, we too felt that he missed a critical opportunity to help bring our country together by unequivocally rejecting the appalling actions of white supremacists,” he wrote.

Trump was also rebuked Monday by Anti Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblat, who urged the Justice Department and Office of Government Ethics to conduct a formal inquiry into whether members of White House staff have links to white supremacist or white nationalist organizations.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who has been calling for Bannon’s removal since Trump first welcomed him into White House, reiterated that call on Monday, saying that in light of Charlottesville, Bannon’s continuing to serve in the administration is obviously problematic. She also slammed what she described as Trump’s apparent willingness to “shelter and encourage forces of bigotry and discrimination.”

“If the president is sincere about rejecting white supremacists, he should remove all doubt by firing Steve Bannon and the other alt-right white supremacist sympathizers in the White House,” Pelosi said.

The White House did not immediately return a request for comment.

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