Business leaders quit Trump panel; he hits back hard

Ivan Schwartz
August 19, 2017

The reversal followed a Trump briefing in New York City Tuesday afternoon where the president defended his initial response that many sides were to blame for the Charlottesville clashes, arguing that left wing groups were just as violent as the white supremacists who staged a demonstration in the Virginia city.

The CEO of athletic wear manufacturer Under Armour is resigning from the President's American Manufacturing Council, saying his company "engages in innovation and sports, not politics".

He wrote on Twitter: "Am departing presidential councils".

The resignations came as criticism mounted over Trump's slow response to the weekend demonstration which ended in bloodshed when a suspected Nazi sympathizer plowed his vehicle into a crowd of anti-racism protesters, killing one and wounding 19.

President Trump says he's disbanding two advisory groups of American business leaders, after CEOs quit this week as the president faced blowback for failing to sufficiently condemn white supremacists.

The dispute over the panels began on Monday, when Merck's Kenneth Frazier took a public stand against Trump, saying that quitting the manufacturing council was "matter of personal conscience" and said that US leaders had to reject "hatred, bigotry and group supremacy".

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Later Monday evening, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said in a blog post that he, too, was resigning "to call attention to the serious harm our divided political climate is causing to critical issues". Trump's June 1 decision to leave the Paris climate accord led Tesla CEO Elon Musk to step down from the manufacturing panel as well as a separate business advisory council.

Who else has left councils? . "I believe the President should have been -- and still needs to be -- unambiguous on that point".

A White House official downplayed the importance of the manufacturing council and a separate policy and strategy forum featuring corporate leaders. Following yesterday's remarks from the President, I can not remain on the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative.

Trump initially blamed "many sides" for Saturday's violence, sparking a welter of criticism and prompting Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier, a prominent African-American businessman, to quit the presidential advisory panel. Walt Disney Co. Chairman and CEO Bob Iger resigned for the same reason from the President's Strategic and Policy Forum, which Trump established to advise him on how government policy impacts economic growth and job creation.

Earlier today, the CEO of Campbell Soup resigned from the jobs panel citing comments by Trump.

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