Business

Trump's business, manufacturing councils disband

CEOs jump ship following U.S. president's remarks over Charlottesville

Trump

U.S. President Donald Trump ended two business advisory panels after a number of high profile defections on Wednesday. One of the panel members was Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier, centre, before he resigned yesterday. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

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U.S. President Donald Trump announced he is disbanding two advisory panels full of business executives after a number of high-profile CEOs either quit the panels or criticized his response to last weekend's tragic events in Charlottesville, Va. 

The president announced he would be ending the "Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum" in a tweet on Wednesday afternoon.

Trump's comments came after the strategy panel had already agreed to disband earlier in the day. 

The move comes after a second day of corporate defections away from him, decisions that began after his response to violence between white supremacists and counter-protesters on Saturday was found to be lacking in its opposition to neo-Nazi groups.

On Monday Trump denounced the groups in a subdued prepared statement, before doubling down on Tuesday on his original contention that there was blame "on all sides" for the incident that killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

The corporate resignations began anew after that.

The CEO of industrial conglomerate 3M resigned from the manufacturing panel, saying it is no longer an effective forum for the company to advance its goals.

"Sustainability, diversity and inclusion are my personal values and also fundamental to the 3M vision," Inge Thulin said. "The past few months have provided me with an opportunity to reflect upon my commitment to these values."

That came after the CEOs of Merck, Under Armour and Intel did the same on Monday.

Earlier on Wednesday, Campbell Soup CEO Denise Morrison followed suit, resigning from the manufacturing advisory panel while saying the company will "continue to support all efforts to spur economic growth and advocate for the values that have always made America great."

Members of the strategy and policy group, led by Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman, concluded after a 45-minute conference call that they would end the council and announce their decision in a statement, according to two people familiar with the discussions. They insisted on anonymity to discuss private conversations.

In a subsequent call with Trump, the president agreed it was the right course of action. He tweeted before they could announce the decision they'd reached — making it appear it was his choice.

Standing in the lobby of Trump Tower on Tuesday, Trump acknowledged that there were "some very bad people" among those who gathered to protest Saturday. But he added: "You also had people that were very fine people, on both sides."

Trump's remarks were widely criticized in Washington and around the country.

Trump says 'alt-left' also to blame for Charlottesville violence 17:02

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