Dear Commons Community,
The White House’s two advisory councils of top business executives disbanded on Wednesday in response to President Donald Trump’s comments on the events in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The move came two days after executives began resigning from the dwindling American Manufacturing Council and hours after Steve Schwarzman who headed the separate Strategic and Policy Forum, hosted a call with other members of that panel.
Trump took credit on Twitter for dissolving the advisory panels in order to alleviate pressure on the executives.
“He took the coward’s way out and disbanded the business council before anyone else bailed out,” Jonathan Bernstein, founder of the consultancy Bernstein Crisis Management, said to HuffPost. “Rather than face more resignations, he just further proved that he was only interested in people who agreed with him.”
The tone of Trump’s announcement was a sharp departure from his previous, combative statements lashing out at those who had already resigned in protest of his refusal to quickly and pointedly condemn white supremacists.
After Merck & Co. CEO Kenneth Frazier, the only African-American on the manufacturing council, stepped down on Monday, Trump lambasted his company’s high drug prices.
Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank and Intel CEO Brian Krzanich dropped out later Monday evening, just hours after Trump gave a press conference in which he said that “racism is evil” and called out the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis.
On Tuesday, the president disparaged the two businessmen as “
But his criticism did nothing to stem the departures. Exactly 15 minutes after Trump posted his tweet, Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, quit the manufacturing council. Paul tweeted that “It’s the right thing for me to do.” On Tuesday evening, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka announced his resignation amid mounting pressure from unions in the federation.
The retreat continued on Wednesday with Inge Thulin, chief executive of the industrial conglomerate 3M, resigning after “careful consideration.” Denise Morrison, chief executive of the Campbell Soup Company, resigned soon after.
And within minutes of Trump’s tweet announcing the end of both panels, Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky sent out a press release declaring to be “unacceptable” the president’s “statements equating those who are motivated by race-based hate with those who stand up against hatred.” In an email to HuffPost, a spokeswoman said Gorsky had resolved to resign from the manufacturing council before the president posted his tweet. She did not respond when asked if the White House had alerted Johnson & Johnson of the disbanding of the councils before making it public.
Congratulations to these CEOs for standing up to a President who has brought chaos and shame to the White House.