The chief executives of Merck and Under Armour chief have resigned from a White House advisory panel on manufacturing after President Donald Trump’s initial failure to explicitly condemn a white supremacist rally.
One day after Trump boasted he had reams of business leaders to replace those leaving his manufacturing council over his response to the Charlottesville violence, Trump disbanded both that council and another one after it failed to stop the defection of prominent CEOs. “Grandstanders should not have gone on”.
Plank on Monday night resigned from Trump’s advisory jobs panel after the president was widely criticized for not quickly denouncing racist groups.
The other big pharmaceutical executive on Trump’s council, Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky, has yet to comment publicly about whether he will remain in the group.
In the days following the racially charged violence in Virginia, where white supremacists marched with swastikas and a young woman was run down by an alleged Nazi sympathizer, alarmed executives began reaching out to Stephen Schwarzman, the billionaire leader of the Blackstone Group LP and a key figure in President Donald Trump’s business brain trust.
The reasoning echoed other executives who resigned from Trump’s councils earlier this year.
The defections come as Trump draws criticism for not specifically condemning the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups that descended on Charlottesville over the weekend for a rally called “Unite the Right”. But after Trump gave a press conference on Tuesday in which he defended the “very fine people” among the white nationalist protestors who had been “treated very unfairly”, the council decided that the time had come to separate themselves from the White House. As seen in the below tweet, President Trump took to Twitter at 8:54 a.m., writing that since Frazier quit the President Trump’s American Manufacturing Council, Frazier would now have more time to lower what President Trump called “ripoff drug prices”.
“Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to what we hold dear as Americans.”
Trump set up the council in January to hear their advice on revitalizing American manufacturing, a focus of his campaign. Mr. Frazier cited the need to “take a stand against intolerance and extremism”.
Following their decision, Trump tweeted that he was doing away with the Strategic and Policy Forum and a seperate manufacturing council.
Kevin Plank, the chief executive of Under Armour Inc.’s issued a more vague statement about his decision.
It was glaring that there weren’t similar comments from those CEOs advising the president as members of the various councils, said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, senior associate dean for leadership studies at the Yale School of Management. “JOBS!” Trump said on Twitter on Tuesday.
By then nearly two days had passed since the president’s first remarks on Charlottesville – and some of the nation’s most prominent business leaders had filled the gap with denunciations of racism.
Within minutes, Trump responded by bashing Frazier on Twitter.
The CEO of e-car pioneer Tesla, Elon Musk, quit in June after the USA withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement.
The market’s shoulder shrug at Frazier’s actions and Trump’s responses to them may be a sign that investors are starting to ignore the president’s policy threats.
After his latest tweets, Trump left NY for his New Jersey golf club where he was scheduled to remain out of public view for the rest of the day.