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Ryan, McConnell called to praise CEOs after they left Trump councils because of Charlottesville remarks: Woodward book

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) privately commended some of the CEOs who departed President Trump's business councils over his handling of the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., according to a newly published excerpt from journalist Bob Woodward's book.

Business Insider reported Monday that Woodward's book on the Trump White House, which comes out Tuesday, contains a passage about the fallout from Trump's press conference in which he declared "both sides" were to blame for the violence that left one counterprotester dead.

Merck & Co. CEO Kenneth Frazier, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, Under Armour's Kevin Plank, Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka all announced their departure from Trump's business advisory councils following the controversial comments.

While both Ryan and McConnell expressed disapproval at the time with Trump's handling of the Charlottesville incident, Woodward reported that they took another step behind the scenes.

"Most significant, however, were the private reactions from House Speaker Ryan and Senate Majority Leader McConnell. Both Republicans called some of the CEOs and privately praised them for standing up," Woodward writes, according to Business Insider.

Spokespeople for Ryan and McConnell both declined to comment to Business Insider about the reporting.

Trump faced overwhelming backlash for his comments after the Charlottesville rally, but Woodward reported in his book, "Fear: Trump in the White House," that the president privately called his decision to initially condemn white supremacists the "biggest f---ing mistake I've made."

Woodward's book has stayed in the spotlight since last Tuesday, when the first excerpts were published.

The book includes multiple specific allegations of high-ranking staff members questioning the president's competence and circumventing some of his decisions, as well as Trump bad-mouthing top aides.

Trump has repeatedly lashed out at the former Watergate reporter and current Washington Post associate editor over the past week, calling him a "liar," suggesting he's a Democratic operative and labeling the book "fiction."

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders piled on Monday, calling Woodward's reporting "reckless" and declining to rule out the possibility of a lawsuit. 

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