Pence to end international trip early amid Trump controversy

Vice President Pence will end his visit to South America early and fly home on Thursday, after President Trump sparked enormous controversy for his comments following deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va.

Pence's announcement came just as Trump was announcing the disbanding of two his economic councils amid an exodus of CEOs from the advisory boards after Trump's remarks. The violence in Charlottesville left one counterprotester dead and at least 19 injured when a vehicle drove through a crowd.

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Pence's office said the vice president was returning to Washington on Thursday night instead of Friday morning to attend the president's meeting at Camp David. Those meetings are expected to focus on North Korea.  

Pence deputy chief of staff Jarrod Agen also said the vice president's other weekend plans had been canceled in case the president needed any follow up.

Pence will cut short his time with South American leaders including President of Chile Michelle Bachelet, who he joined for a joint press conference Wednesday discussing the political unrest in Venezuela.

The vice president defended Trump as the president drew bipartisan criticism for his remarks following the violent events in Charlottesville.

“What happened in Charlottesville was a tragedy. And the president has been clear on this tragedy and so have I,” Pence said Wednesday when asked about Trump equating Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee with George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. “I spoke at length about this heartbreaking situation Sunday night in Colombia. And I stand with the president, and I stand by those words.”