President Donald Trump faced more fallout Friday over his response to the violence in Charlottesville with virtually all of the members of a presidential committee on the arts announced their resignations, in a new blow for the president after two business advisory councils earlier this week were disbanded as members left in protest.
A letter dated Friday, signed by 16 of 17 members of the President's Committee On the Arts and Humanities, cited the "false equivalence" of Trump's comments about Charlottesville.
"Ignoring your hateful rhetoric would have made us complicit in your words and actions," the letter from the group including actor Kal Penn, artist Chuck Close and others reads. "Supremacy, discrimination, and vitriol are not American values. Your values are not American values. We must be better than this. We are better than this. If this is not clear to you, then we call on you to resign your office, too."
The arts and humanities committee was established in 1982 under President Ronald Reagan and all the current members had been appointed by President Barack Obama. Others signing the resignation letter included author Jhumpa Lahiri; and Vicki Kennedy, widow of Edward M. Kennedy. The only member not signing was Broadway director George C. Wolfe. Representatives for Wolfe at Creative Arts Agency did not have any immediate comment on whether he had resigned.
The White House said that the president decided earlier this month to not renew the Executive Order for the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, which is set to expire later this year.
"While the Committee has done good work in the past, in its current form it simply is not a responsible way to spend American tax dollars," a White House spokesperson told NBC News.
Meanwhile, Carl Icahn, a special advisor to the president on issues relating to regulatory reform, announced that he has resigned.
"I’ve received a number of inquiries over the last month regarding the recent appointment of Neomi Rao as Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs," Icahn said in a statement.
"I chose to end this arrangement (with your blessing) because I did not want partisan bickering about my role to in any way cloud your administration or Ms. Rao’s important work," he continued.
Beside the shake up in the White House with Icahn's departure and most of the arts committee, Trump is receiving criticism from the 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
Romney warned in a blistering statement on Facebook that Trump's actions risked "an unraveling of our national fabric" and that he "must take remedial action in the extreme."
Trump has blamed "many sides" for the demonstrations at last weekend's "Unite the Right" gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left an anti-racism activist dead.
"Whether he intended to or not, what he communicated caused racists to rejoice, minorities to weep, and the vast heart of America to mourn," Romney wrote. "His apologists strain to explain that he didn't mean what we heard."