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Republican Jewish Coalition breaks with Trump on Charlottesville, asks for ‘greater moral clarity’

President Trump discusses the violence, injuries and deaths at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville as he talks to the media in the lobby of Trump Tower in Manhattan on Aug. 15, 2017. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

A major Jewish political coalition that has long supported President Trump and stood by him through other controversies broke with him on Wednesday over his response to events last weekend in Charlottesville, imploring him to more forcefully reject Nazis and other white supremacist groups.

The Republican Jewish Coalition called on Trump to “provide greater moral clarity in rejecting racism, bigotry, and antisemitism,” in a joint statement from Chairman Norm Coleman and executive director Matt Brooks.

The one paragraph statement represented another sign that Trump's supportive comments of some participants in the Unite the Right rally over the weekend has fractured political support from some of his closest allies. Trump's business manufacturing advisory council disbanded Wednesday after a number of chief executives and other members announced their resignation in protest of his remarks, and some high-profile Republican leaders on Capitol Hill criticized the president.

Trump’s business advisory councils disband as CEOs abandon president over Charlottesville views

Also Wednesday, former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush issued a joint statement denouncing “racial bigotry, anti-Semitism and hatred in all its forms,” although they did not mention Trump by name.

The RJC counts among its board members the Las Vegas casino magnate and major Republican donor Sheldon Adelson. The organization has maintained its support for Trump despite other controversies about past remarks, including his praise of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's killing of political adversaries.

In the statement, Coleman, a former U.S. senator, and Brooks called Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan “small fringe groups that have never been welcome in the GOP.” They emphasized that the RJC has members with firsthand experience of the Holocaust and that it “unequivocally” rejects “these hatemongers.”

Trump has drawn widespread criticism for his failure to denounce neo-Nazis and the KKK on Saturday, after a woman was killed and 19 others injured when a rally participant allegedly plowed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters. Although Trump belatedly condemned white supremacist groups as “repugnant” and “criminals and thugs” on Monday, he reversed course and blamed the violence on “both sides” on Tuesday and criticized the counterprotesters as violent.