Several White House officials reportedly want to quit the Trump administration following his remarks on a white nationalist rally, but have declined to do so because they are worried about what President Donald Trump would do when left to his own devices.
On Aug. 15, Trump generated controversy when he asserted that members of the alt-right and counter protesters shared equal responsibility during a deadly white nationalist rally that rocked Charlottesville, Virginia. The president added that he believed some participants in the rally were white supremacists.
"You had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists, OK?" Trump said, according to CNBC. "And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly."
The president's remarks reportedly outraged several of his own advisers and staffers. White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell were reportedly upset by the president's remarks, along with other Trump allies.
White House National Economic Adviser Gary Cohn reportedly was so privately critical of Trump's comments that his allies believed he would resign. Cohn, who is Jewish, allegedly told confidantes that Trump's remarks "disgusted" him, according to The New York Times.
On Aug. 20, roughly six senior Trump administration officials who requested anonymity told Axios they were upset by the president's comments but would not resign. The officials' reasoning for staying ranged from an interest in maintaining their access to the White House, reassurances that Trump was less provocative in private to concern that the president would implement controversial policies without their intervention.
"You have no idea how much crazy stuff we kill," one Trump administration official said, alleging that the president had to be talked out of initiating a trade war with China or threatening a government shutdown to gain funding for his proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
On Aug. 17, a White House aide who requested anonymity shared a similar sentiment to Politico.
“A lot of it is just making sure that things that are not fully baked or things that are not constructive don’t end up happening,” the aide said of other staffers who wanted to resign but declined to do so.
On Aug. 19, U.S. Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin took to social media to defend Trump's press conference. Mnuchin, who is Jewish, had faced calls to resign from his former classmates at Yale University.
"I feel compelled to let you know that the President in no way, shape or form, believes that neo-Nazi and other hate groups who endorse violence are equivalent to groups that demonstrate in peaceful and lawful ways," Mnuchin tweeted on Aug. 19.
"I don't believe the allegations against the President are accurate, and I believe that having highly talented men and women in our country surrounding the President in his administration should be reassuring to you..." Mnuchin added.