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Podcast: After Charlottesville, Civil Rights Under Trump at the Fore
The Big Story, Episode 67

Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifies during the Senate Select Intelligence Committee hearing on Tuesday, June 13, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Last weekend’s bloody Virginia demonstrations incited by white supremacists will focus new attention on how the Trump administration is altering the Justice Department’s approach to hate crimes and other civil rights issues, CQ legal affairs reporter Todd Ruger explains. It’s a big test for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, already under fire from the president and because of his own record on race.

Show Notes:

Trump Disbands Advisory Councils as CEOs Flee
Merck, Under Armor and Intel chief executives departed earlier this week

President Donald Trump has decided to shut down two White House advisory councils.(Win McNamee/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump announced Wednesday he is disbanding two White House advisory councils following the resignation of several members.

That came after chief executives for Merck, Under Armor and Intel announced they all would be leaving the President’s American Manufacturing Council over Trump’s response to the violence that broke out shortly before a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Extremist groups, including neo-Nazis and the Klu Klux Klan, had gathered to oppose plans to remove a statute of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. 

Trump Approval Rating Dips to Lowest Point of Presidency
Poll shows drop in support for president among Republicans from June to August

President Donald Trump's approval ratings among Republicans fell from 91 percent in June to 79 percent in a poll released Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump’s approval rating has sunk to its lowest point since he took office, with only 35 percent of Americans saying they viewed the job he’s done favorably, according to a poll released Wednesday.

The new Marist poll found that 55 percent disapprove of Trump after seven months on the job.

Far-Right Protesters in Virginia Included ‘Very Fine’ People, Trump Says
Trump says ‘both sides’ to blame for Charlottesville unrest

President Donald Trump delivers remarks following a meeting on infrastructure at Trump Tower on Tuesday. He appeared to defend some of the white supremacist groups who help spawn deadly violence Saturday in Virginia. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Tuesday defended some of the neo-Nazis and white supremacists who were part of the deadly Charlottesville, Virginia, protests last weekend, saying there were “very fine people” on both sides of the racially charged unrest.

A defiant Trump, just a day after slamming the pro-white groups who organized the two-day protests of the planned removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, appeared to give some of their members cover. “There is blame on both sides,” he told reporters during what amounted to a brief impromptu press conference at Trump Tower in New York.

Trump Labels CEOs Who Left Advisory Panel as ‘Grandstanders’
President used same insult to describe fired FBI Director James Comey

President Donald Trump says he has many potential replacements for the CEOs who quit his American Manufacturing Council. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump labeled as “grandstanders” the corporate executives who left a White House advisory council after he opted against quickly disavowing white supremacist groups following the weekend’s race-based violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The president used a late-morning post Tuesday on his favorite social media site to lash out at the chief executives of Merck, Under Armor and Intel. All three a day earlier announced they were leaving the President’s American Manufacturing Council in protest after Trump did not immediately — and clearly — condemn the Klu Klux Klan, neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups.

Opinion: Congress’ Passive Response to North Korea: ‘Not My Table’
Lawmakers need to step up

When dealing with President Donald Trump — especially when problems with North Korea are looming — members of Congress should remember that they are part of a co-equal branch of government, Shapiro writes. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Just as he did back during Black History Month in February with his startling discovery that Frederick Douglass “is being recognized more and more,” Donald Trump demonstrated in Monday’s White House statement on Charlottesville, Virginia, that he can learn and grow in office.

In 48 short hours, Trump discovered that “racism is evil” and groups like “the KKK, neo-Nazis [and] white supremacists … are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”

Trump Condemns White Supremacists Two Days After Charlottesville Violence
‘Racism is evil,’ president declares, while calling out KKK and similar groups

President Donald Trump — under pressure to explicitly condemn a weekend rally by white supremacists in Virginia that ended in bloodshed — denounced racism as "evil" Monday, singling out the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis as "repugnant." (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Under intense pressure from fellow Republicans, President Donald Trump on Monday forcefully condemned the Klu Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups after refusing to do so for two days after racial violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The central Virginia city was the scene of a car attack by a Nazi sympathizer that left a counter-protester dead and 19 others injured during the second day of rallies organized by white nationalists trying to stop the removal of a statute of Confederate military commander Robert E. Lee. But in remarks Saturday, Trump criticized groups on “many sides” and his silence about the Nazi and white supremacist groups continued throughout Sunday and into the first half of Monday.

Trump Lashes out at CEO for Resigning from Advisory Council
Merck’s Kenneth Frazier stepped down after Trump’s response to Charlottesville violence

Kenneth Frazier joined President Donald Trump’s Manufacturing Advisory Council in January (Saul/AFP/Getty Images file photo)

Hours after Kenneth Frazier, CEO of Merck Pharma, announced he was stepping down from the President’s Manufacturing Council, President Donald J. Trump hit back on Twitter.

Frazier’s resignation came two days after violence broke out at a white nationalist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. In a statement Monday morning, Frazier said he felt “a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”

Sen. Boozman to Have Follow-Up Heart Surgery
Change in August recess delayed operation

Sen. John Boozman underwent emergency heart surgery in 2014 to fix a torn aorta. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. John Boozman was scheduled to have a follow-up heart operation during the first week of August. That all changed when the Senate pushed back the start of August recess.

Now the Arkansas Republican is set to have the procedure in northern Virginia Tuesday, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

Trump Goes Back to Flogging McConnell Over Health Care
President’s attack Thursday afternoon comes after taking more encouraging tone

President Donald Trump has repeatedly attacked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for the GOP’s recent failure to pass health care legislation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 4:27 p.m. | President Donald Trump took on a more threatening tone toward Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday after a meandering series of messages earlier in the day.

The president started the day with a tweet that criticized the Kentucky Republican for a second day for failing to pass a health care bill, before offering an olive branch of encouragement by lunchtime.