Just a day after President Donald Trump branded as “grandstanders” the increasing number of CEOs quitting his business council to protest his reaction to a white-supremacist rally that turned violent, the president resisted the advisory groups instead of put pressure on executives to stay.
“Thank you all! ” Trump tweeted Wednesday afternoon.
On a conference call Wednesday morning with members of the strategy forum, the group was polled to ask who would stay. Of the dozen executives on the call, 10 voted to depart, according to another individual. The group planned to tell the White House about their decision according to a person.
In a memo sent to BlackRock employees and provided to Bloomberg Wednesday, Fink reported that antisemitism, racism and the violence in Virginia had to be criticized without caveats.
“While I have disagreed with the president in certain instances this year, I continued to participate in the forum because I thought it was important to have a voice at the table for investors, including our customers,” Fink wrote. “Unfortunately, after the past couple of days, I concluded that I could no longer in good conscience participate in the forum. ”
“The events that happened in Charlottesville, as I said on Monday, are nothing short of terrorism. Such racism and bigotry must not just be condemned, but should be condemned unequivocally,” he said.
The strategy group is one of several the White House convened earlier this year to advise the president, though it and the manufacturing panel haven’t met lately.
“It is #x 2019 & a leader;s role, in business or government, to bring people together, not tear them” he said in a memo provided to Bloomberg.
The policy and strategy forum said the controversy over Trump’s opinions about the Virginia violence. “The debate over forum participation has become a diversion from our well-intentioned and sincere desire to aid policy discussions about the best way to improve the lives of Americans. ”
Several CEOs from a manufacturing council quit before Wednesday, including the CEOs of Under Armour Inc. and Intel Corp.. Before Trump’ announcement, Inge Thulin, CEO of 3M left, as did Campbell Soup CEO Denise Morrison.
“Following #x 2019 & yesterday;s opinions in the president, I can’t stay on the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative,” Morrison said in a statement. “I will continue to support all efforts to spur economic growth and advocate for the values that have made America great. ”
The dispute over the panels started on Monday, when Merck’s CEO Frazier took a public stand against Trump, stating that quitting the manufacturing council was “matter of personal conscience” and stated that U.S. leaders needed to reject “hatred, bigotry and group supremacy. ”
In the past days, other executives have echoed those sentiments.
General Electric Co.’s Jeffrey Immelt, among the biggest names in American manufacturing, said soon after Trump’s tweet that he too planned to step down from the now-disbanded group, reversing a decision from two days ahead. Immelt, who notified in the day, said Trump’ remarks at the Tuesday press conference “were deeply troubling. ”
The disbanding of the councils doesn’t mean corporate America will turn its back on Trump, said Dan Eaton, a business ethics lecturer at San Diego State University. Businesses are still hoping that the administration is able to move ahead with corporate tax reform and infrastructure spending.
“It was personal, not coverage associated,” Eaton said of CEOs. “They are going to continue support the agenda of the president and congressional leaders when it serves America’s purpose. ”
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