The head of the AFL-CIO has stepped down from the White House’s manufacturing council after President Trump doubled down on his position that violence in Charlottesville was perpetrated by many sides at a press conference Tuesday.
Richard Trumka said in a statement posted on Twitter that he “cannot sit on a council for a President who tolerates bigotry and domestic terrorism,” and called Tuesday’s remarks “the last straw.”
The statement was jointly issued by Thea Lee, an economist who previously served as deputy chief of staff at the AFL-CIO. She also resigned from the council.
“President Trump’s remarks today repudiate his forced remarks yesterday about the KKK and neo-Nazis. We must resign on behalf of America’s working people, who reject all notions of legitimacy of these bigoted groups,” they said.
Trumka is one of the best-known manufacturing leaders in the country. The AFL-CIO union represents 12.5 million workers around the world.
During the presidential campaign, Trumka called Trump “anti-American” and “a bigot.”
“From his anti-American proposal to ban Muslims to his horrendous comments about women and immigrants, Trump is running on hate,” he said in a speech in March 2016.
But he has praised the president’s policies on trade — particularly the decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement in January.
“Today’s announcement that the US is withdrawing from TPP and seeking a reopening of NAFTA is an important first step toward a trade policy that works for working people,” Trumka said in a statement.
Six business leaders have now resigned from Trump’s manufacturing council since the weekend.
Kenneth Frazier of Merck, Kevin Plank of Under Armour and Brian Krzanich of Intel all left the group on Monday. The Alliance for American Manufacturing chief Scott Paul quit on Tuesday, as did the two AFL-CIO leaders.
On Tuesday afternoon, Trump said the media is downplaying the role of the “alt-left,” and said blame for what unfolded at the white supremacist rally in Virginia lies with “both sides.”
“You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say it, but I will say it right now,” he said.