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Hispanic Chamber to Trump: Fire Bannon for 'Offering an Attentive Ear to Racism'

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce called for White House chief strategist Steve Bannon to be fired, charging that since the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville “influential members” of President Trump’s administration “were more worried about winning votes through dog whistles and winks and nods to the most evil elements of our society than in maintaining the moral authority of the presidency.”

“The exodus of CEOs from the president’s advisory boards is perfectly understandable given the shallow, belated and feckless response to white supremacism and bigotry,” chamber CEO Javier Palomarez, who also serves on Trump’s National Diversity Council, blasted in a Tuesday statement. “The administration’s efforts to grow the American economy is now in peril because of the shameful pandering to bigotry. Many leaders of the Hispanic community have distanced themselves from this administration from the outset while I have tried to maintain some civil relationship with the administration in an attempt to push forward the priorities of our members.”

“After the 2016 election, we committed to not only honoring its results but also stepping up to help the new administration grow our economy for the good of the American people, but the administration’s behavior makes continuing that role exceedingly difficult.”

Palomarez added that “the blame here ultimately resides with President Trump, but so too should the president’s chief strategist take responsibility for offering an attentive ear to racism and bigotry and his history of proudly cultivating the so-called ‘alt right.’”

“If the president wishes to maintain any credibility with the Hispanic community and other minority communities, he needs to purge his administration of all those who disparage diversity and inclusivity,” he said. “Firing Steve Bannon is the first step — and a needed step to begin the process of healing the bad feelings this administration has engendered.”

Trump told reporters at a Tuesday press conference in Trump Tower that Bannon is “a friend of mine, but Mr. Bannon came on very late, you know that.”

“I went through 17 senators, governors, and I won all the primaries. Mr. Bannon came on very much later than that, and I like him. He’s a good man. He is not a racist, I can tell you that. He’s a good person. He actually gets a very unfair press in that regard,” Trump added. “But we’ll see what happens with Mr. Bannon, but he’s a good person, and I think the press treats him, frankly, very unfairly.”

Palomarez told MSNBC this morning that he will be staying on Trump’s diversity council “for now” because “this is not about serving a president.”

“This is about serving the 4.2 million Hispanic-owned firms that collectively contribute over $668 billion to our American economy. This is about serving the American people, the job creators, the business owners, who put me in this post. Our job is not done yet,” he said.

He added that he supports the manufacturing CEOs who quit the president’s council and “went from a thumbs up to a middle finger very quickly.”

“Do I support what has happened here? Absolutely not. I denounce it. Again, this will define this president for time immemorial,” Palomarez said. “But the fact of the matter is, if I walk away, if I give up in frustration, the only people who win are the Steve Bannons and the Steve Millers of this world. They would love to have one less Hispanic with free access to the White House, to the president, to Ivanka Trump and several of the secretaries.”