Trump Disbands His Business Advisory Council

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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President Donald Trump disbanded both his Manufacturing and Strategic and Policy Forum Councils Wednesday afternoon, after a number of CEOs dropped out following his response to the Charlottesville protests.

“Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!” Trump tweeted.

Eleven of the 28 members of the president’s Manufacturing Advisory Council had already dropped out as of Wednesday afternoon prior to the president’s announcement, with more than a handful citing Trump’s failure to specifically call out white supremacist groups and denounce acts of violence committed in Charlottesville Friday and Saturday.

The CEOs of Under Armour, Merck & Co., Inc., and Intel dropped out of the council Monday, followed soon after by Richard Trumka and Thea Lee of AFL-CIO.

“America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry, and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal,” Merck’s CEO Kenneth Frazier wrote after announcing his company’s exit from the Manufacturing Council. “As CEO of Merck, and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”

Trumka responded in a similar vein, but called out the president by name.

“President Trump’s remarks today repudiate his forced remarks yesterday about the KKK and neo-Nazis,” Trumka said Tuesday evening in a statement posted to Twitter. “We must resign on behalf of America’s working people, who reject notions of legitimacy of these bigoted groups.”

After the CEOs made their exit known, Trump tweeted Tuesday evening, “for every CEO that drops out of the Manufacturing Council, I have many to take their place. Grandstanders should not have gone on. JOBS!”

The executives on the Strategic and Policy Forum agreed to disband before Trump announced he was breaking up the group of business leaders, CNBC reports.

The president generated a great deal of backlash when he returned to blaming “both sides,” apparently meaning white supremacist and radical leftist groups, for the violence in Charlottesville, which left one woman dead after a white supremacist drove his car into a crowd of protestors.

“What about the alt-left that came charging at, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?” Trump asked at a Tuesday press conference that was supposed to announce his administration’s infrastructure plan.

“What about the fact they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs. Do they have any problem?” he said. “I think they do.”

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