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Trump disbands business councils after CEOs exit in protest

[WASHINGTON/NEW YORK] US President Donald Trump disbanded two high-profile business advisory councils on Wednesday after corporate CEOs quit in protest at his remarks blaming violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, not only on white nationalists but also on the protesters who opposed them.

A parade of prominent Republicans and US ally Britain rebuked Mr Trump after his Tuesday comments on Saturday's bloodshed further enveloped his seven-month-old presidency in controversy and paralysed his policy aims.

Mr Trump announced the break-up of the advisory councils after 3M Co's Inge Thulin became the latest of several chief executives to leave Mr Trump's American Manufacturing Council, and the president's Strategic and Policy Forum broke up of its own will.

"Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both," Mr Trump wrote on Twitter.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Ohio Governor John Kasich, Senator Lindsey Graham, former US presidents George H W Bush and George W Bush and others took aim at the remarks by Mr Trump that worsened deep divisions within a Republican Party that controls both chambers of Congress and the White House.

A former senior Mr Trump administration official raised the prospect that some White House officials could quit because of Mr Trump's comments.

"If you have some high-profile individuals leaving, you may have a whole host of high-profile individuals leaving," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Mr McConnell, who last week drew Mr Trump's ire over the Senate's failure to pass healthcare legislation, issued a statement saying "messages of hate and bigotry" from white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi groups should not be welcome anywhere in the United States. Mr McConnell's statement did not mention Mr Trump by name.

"We can have no tolerance for an ideology of racial hatred.

There are no good neo-Nazis, and those who espouse their views are not supporters of American ideals and freedoms. We all have a responsibility to stand against hate and violence, wherever it raises its evil head," Mr McConnell said.

REUTERS