This week in Trumpland: chaos from Charlottesville to Bannon
Lazaro Gamio / Axios
The fallout from President Trump's controversial response to the violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend dominated the week's headlines. But Trump made some other gaffes this week, which ended in the abrupt resignation of his embattled chief strategist Steve Bannon.
It was another whirlwind week in Trumpland, so let's dive in:
- Trump seemingly redeemed himself from his initial weak statement on Charlottesville when on Monday he finally condemned racist hate groups for their violent behavior in Charlottesville. (He singled out neo-nazis, white supremacists, and other groups as "repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.")
- But that all came to an end Tuesday when Trump declared, in an unplanned presser, what he truly believes — that "both sides" (meaning the white nationalists and the "alt-left") were to blame.
- The statement led many top Republicans to distance themselves from the president, and the blatant lack of party members coming to his defense in the days that followed sent a silent, but powerful message that Trump had isolated himself completely.
Business councils disbanded
- Another damaging after-effect of Trump's incendiary Charlottesville remarks was the number of CEOs that pulled out of Trump's special councils.
- It all started with the resignation of Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier, which led to a domino effect of other top CEOs following suit. It quickly became such a problem that Trump, feeling rejected, abruptly decided to disband two of his key groups of outside business advisers on Wednesday.
- The next day, the WH announced that they were also scrapping plans for the creation of an infrastructure council. (Don't forget: It was Infrastructure Week.)
- Many cities across the nation removed their Confederate monuments after the Charlottesville rally and Trump's remarks.
- Thursday, Trump publicly defended the "beautiful statues," stating that it's "sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart."
A powerful message
- Susan Bro, the mother of 32-year-old Heather Heyer who was killed when a car rammed into a crowd of protestors at the Charlottesville rally, became a focal point this week with her powerful statement to those responsible for her daughter's death.
- Key quote: "They tried to kill my child to shut her up. But guess what? You just magnified her."
- Later in the week Bro, who initially thanked Trump for his "words of comfort" on Monday, also stated that she "will not" talk to the president after learning of his "both sides" remarks, and doesn't plan to return his phone calls. "You can't wash this one away by shaking my hand and saying I'm sorry," she said.
Bye bye, Bannon
- Bannon drew sharp criticism this week with the publication of his eye-opening Tuesday interview with the liberal-leaning American Prospect — a conversation that he clearly didn't think was on-the-record.
- After reading the piece, one of Bannon's colleagues told Axios: "Since Steve apparently enjoys casually undermining U.S. national security, I'll put this in terms he'll understand: This is DEFCON 1-level bad."
- Fast forward to Friday morning, Axios' Jonathan Swan reported that WH officials expected Bannon to be fired, and that the only real question was "when," not "if."
- Axios sources quickly confirmed it, and one senior WH official told Swan, "Steve was made aware he was going to be asked to leave... he was given the opportunity to do it on his own terms. He was told the decision had been made and that he would no longer be serving at the WH."