BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — A White House advisory council on infrastructure on Thursday became the latest casualty of the pique of business leaders over President Trump’s response to the hate-fueled violence in Charlottesville.
Two other outside corporate advisory groups were disbanded Wednesday after an exodus of business leaders upset with Trump’s controversial statements about shared blame for the violence at a planned white-nationalist rally.
On Thursday, the White House announced that the Presidential Advisory Council on Infrastructure, which it said “was still being formed,” would not move forward, meeting the same fate as the the manufacturing council and the Strategy and Policy Forum.
Shortly after taking office in January, Trump tapped two Manhattan real estate developers, Richard LeFrak and Steven Roth, to head up a council aimed at guiding Trump’s promised $1 trillion infusion into roads, bridges, airports and other aging infrastructure.
An executive order formally establishing the group was not issued until last month. The White House indicated that slots were still being filled on the 15-member council, which was to include experts on real estate, finance, construction and transportation.
Trump said via Twitter on Wednesday that he was shutting down the other two advisory councils to “avoid putting pressure on the businesspeople” to remain on board, but momentum was already moving in that direction.
The Trump administration has put forward the outlines of an infrastructure package but not formally unveiled its full plans for Congress. The initiative has been waiting in line behind Trump's legislative pushes on health care and taxes, both of which have stalled.
On Tuesday, while in New York, Trump signed an executive order related to one aspect of his infrastructure-related ambitions, dramatically reducing the permitting time for new highways.
It was at that event at Trump Tower that Trump took questions on Charlottesville and renewed his argument that “both sides” were to blame for the violence and asserted that there were “fine people” among those who participated in the protest of the city’s removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.