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At least 69 people have now quit Trump's White House advisory groups

by Josh Marcus
Aug 24 2017, 2:30pm

The Trump administration’s advisory groups are in the middle of a meltdown. Three have completely disbanded, while others have lost individual members, bringing the total resignations to at least 69.

Here’s a rundown of the major exits so far:

  • National Infrastructure Advisory Council, a group that provides advice on critical infrastructure to the Department of Homeland Security founded under George W. Bush: at least two resignations
  • Digital Economy Board of Advisors, which gives advice on digital economy to Commerce Department founded under President Obama: at least three resignations
  • President’s Strategic and Policy Forum, a business advisory group for the president founded under Trump, decided to completely disband: 16 members
  • Manufacturing Jobs Initiative, a presidential initiative to support manufacturing jobs founded under Trump: eight resignations, now disbanded
  • President’s Evangelical Advisory Board, an unofficial presidential council on Christian issues, founded under Trump: one resignation
  • President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, which works with government and private agencies to promote the arts, founded under Ronald Reagan: 17 members resigned, committee will not be renewed for budget reasons (announced before resignations)
  • President’s Global Development Council, an advisory group on U.S. foreign assistance founded under President Obama: at least six resignations
  • President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), a group that works with the White House to partner with AAPI community founded under President Bill Clinton: 16 resignations

The White House confirmed Tuesday that “a number of members” are quitting a presidential infrastructure council, The Hill reports. This comes just a week after a number of high-profile exits the dissolution of two of his business advisory councils, the wholesale exodus at his arts and humanities committee, the resignation of a member of his evangelical advisory board — following the president’s controversial comments about the violence in Charlottesville.

This time, the administration lost members from the National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC), which gives the Department of Homeland Security advice on the security of critical infrastructure and information systems, but the former NIAC members aren’t alone.

A number of council members left the administration earlier this year too.

Over half of President Trump’s Global Development Council, an Obama-era forum on foreign aid, resigned by the beginning of February, with one member citing the administration’s “gag rule” on U.S.-funded organizations from speaking about abortion as his reason for leaving.

Two-thirds of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders also resigned that month.

“We object to your portrayal of immigrants, refugees, people of color, and people of various faiths as untrustworthy, threatening and a drain on our nation,” said former members in their resignation letter.

Now, the AAPI commission has just four members, according to current member Bill Imada, and they haven’t met in months. Still, that hasn’t stopped Imada, an advertising and public relations executive, from staying with the group. He was appointed to the commission under President Obama and had considered resigning at the beginning of the new administration, but he stayed because he didn’t want to abandon the business projects he was working on with his community.

“The groups I was working with, they told me, ‘Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the president, you still represent us,’” he told VICE News. “Resigning wouldn’t necessarily help. Our job is to provide perspective on Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, regardless of who’s in office.”

Chris Lu, former Deputy Secretary of Labor under Obama, helped chair the AAPI commission for the administration. He sees the spate of resignations — and the administration’s cold response — as part of a larger trend of the Trump White House devaluing outside counsel.

“This White House doesn’t seem to care,” he said. “It reflects more broadly that these people are ideologues who are intent on advocating for extreme policy positions and don’t necessarily care about getting the best advice from people on the outside.”

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