Mr. Trump tweeted Wednesday that he was ending the White House council on manufacturing and the Strategic and Policy Forum.
One of the councils had planned to disband after a conference call of its executives on Wednesday morning, a person familiar with the matter said. Mr. Trump’s tweet came after reports that council was disbanding.
Blackstone Group LP Chief Executive Stephen A. Schwarzman, who led the Strategic and Policy Forum, phoned the president on Wednesday to inform him the group was being disbanded, according to people familiar with the call.
Meanwhile, Vice President Pence on a foreign trip said he stands by the president but pointedly refused to say if he agreed with President Trump’s effort to equate neo-Nazi protesters with anti-Nazi protesters. He also decided to return home early from his South America trip, heightening the sense that the White House is in the midst of a crisis not comparable to anything Trump has yet experienced. He also canceled an appearance with GOP Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie, who has yet to call for removal of Confederate statues or condemn the president’s lack of leadership.
Meanwhile, international leaders continue to condemn the neo-Nazi violence and Trump’s response to it. The Post reported:
British Prime Minister Theresa May didn’t call Trump out by name but said in a statement Wednesday there was “no equivalence” between the two sides. … Similarly, the European Commission mentioned neither Trump nor Charlottesville but, in a tweet Wednesday morning, reiterated the European Union’s founding principles: liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamentals, and the rule of law. …
Others were more explicit in their criticism of Trump. Germany Justice Minister Heiko Maas blasted Trump’s Tuesday news conference as one that sugarcoated the racist violence from the weekend.
“It is unbearable how Trump is now glossing over the violence of the right-wing hordes from Charlottesville,” Maas said in a statement, according to Reuters. “No one should trivialize anti-Semitism and racism by neo-Nazis.”
This has now become an international humiliation for the United States. The president who vowed to make America strong and respected has made it look small and cowardly. Our allies’ criticisms sound like past U.S. presidents’ condemnation of third-world autocrats.
What would make this crisis different than ones that preceded it? One or more resignations of senior officials, especially White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, might shock the political system. Republicans supporting a censure resolution would also turn up the heat. And outside groups and individuals including business and civic groups can shun him. Moreover, ordinary voters can vote with their feet as well. Trump has planned a campaign-style rally in Arizona next week. Voters can stay away or show up and peacefully protest. However, so long as Trump has his family and close confidantes to enable him, he’s unlikely — unless he runs into legal or financial scrutiny he cannot avoid — to walk away. That’s now as much a problem for Republicans as it is for those who rationalize working with him for the “good of the country.” The country can be spared at this point only by his quick departure.