Arts and Humanities Committee members resign in protest of Trump

Last Updated Aug 19, 2017 2:41 AM EDT

In a fiery letter delivered to the White House on Friday, 16 members of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities announced their resignations in protest of the Trump administration.  

The letter drew issue with the president's blaming of "both sides" in the injuries and deaths at the violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend.

"Reproach and censure in the strongest possible terms are necessary following your support of the hate groups and terrorists who killed and injured fellow Americans in Charlottesville," the letter by the committee members stated. "The false equivalencies you push cannot stand."

The White House said President Trump had already decided against renewing the advisory committee for budgetary reasons, the Associated Press reported.

The only member whose name did not appear was Broadway director George C. Wolfe, the Associated Press reported. Representatives for Wolfe at Creative Arts Agency told the AP Friday that he was also resigning and that his name would be added to the letter.

Members involved with the letter, according to CBS News' Julianna Goldman, are mostly holdovers from the Obama administration, and they were set to leave eventually. Nevertheless, the language contained in the five-paragraph missive is strong in its condemnation of the president. The first letter of each paragraph, when combined, spells out "RESIST."

The letter listed the reasons for the resignations: the president's budget-cut proposals for the arts, pulling out of the Paris climate agreement, reevaluation of the Civil Rights Act, trans rights in the military, the travel ban and the president's bellicose language when discussing foreign threats.

"Ignoring your hateful rhetoric would have made us complicit in your words and actions. We took a patriotic oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic," the letter read.

In the last paragraph of the letter, committee members said it was time for Mr. Trump to resign as well.

"Supremacy, discrimination, and vitriol are not American values," it read. "Your values are not American values. We must be better than this. We are better than this. If this is not clear to you, then we call on you to resign your office, too."

The President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities began in 1982 under the Reagan Administration. For the last three decades, the committee has been tasked with supporting arts and humanities education through coordination with both public and private sectors. First Lady Melania Trump currently serves as the committee's honorary chair.

Earlier in the week, Mr. Trump canceled two business advisory councils after some of the manufacturing council's members, including major CEO's, resigned in response to the president's statements about Charlottesville. On Thursday, Mr. Trump took it a step further and disbanded his infrastructure council.

CBS News has reached out to the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities for comment but has not received a response. 

On Friday afternoon, a White House spokesperson released this statement: "Earlier this month it was decided that President Trump will not renew the Executive Order for the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH), which expires later this year. While the Committee has done good work in the past, in its current form it simply is not a responsible way to spend American tax dollars. The PCAH merely redirects funding from the federal cultural agencies (NEA/NEH/IMLS) that answer directly to the President, Congress, and taxpayers. These cultural agencies do tremendous work and they will continue to engage in these important projects."