Walmart CEO Criticizes Trump Over Charlottesville Response; Does Not Plan To Resign From White House Advisory Board

Image courtesy of Chris Wilson

Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart, has become the latest — and most high-profile — executive to distance himself from the White House following President Trump’s heavily criticized response to the recent tragic events surrounding a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, VA. However, unlike the other CEOs who have called out the President, McMillon is not planning to give up his seat on a White House advisory council.

“Respect for the individual is one of our core beliefs at Walmart,” wrote McMillon in an email to workers that was later published on Walmart’s website. “As we watched the events and the response from President Trump over the weekend, we too felt that he missed a critical opportunity to help bring our country together by unequivocally rejecting the appalling actions of white supremacists.”

After the Charlottesville rally devolved into violence and reached a tragic pitch when an Ohio man drove his vehicle into a crowd of counter-protesters, injuring 19 people and killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer, President Trump spoke publicly to “condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides.”

That reportedly off-the-cuff “many sides” remark, coupled with the President’s decision to not explicitly mention the white supremacist, KKK, and neo-Nazi groups that supported the event, led to immediate rebuke by many, even within his own party.

President Trump spoke again on Monday, this time deliberately referencing the groups he’d omitted from his previous statement.

McMillon says that these second remarks “were a step in the right direction and we need that clarity and consistency in the future.”

While McMillon is publicly criticizing Trump’s remarks, a rep for Walmart tells the NY Times that the CEO will continue to serve on the President’s economic development advisory council.

“Representing a company with the largest and one of the most diverse groups of associates in the U.S., and an even more diverse customer base of tens of millions of customers, we believe we should stay engaged to try to influence decisions in a positive way and help bring people together,” concluded the CEO.

Four other high-profile execs have given up their seats at their respective White House advisory groups this week. Merck & Co’s Kenneth Frazier said he could no longer serve on the President’s manufacturing panel, leading the President to immediately attack the drug company exec on Twitter:

Frazier was followed by Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, who was already under pressure to exit the manufacturing council from some professional athletes who endorse the athletic apparel brand. Intel’s Brian Krzanich also stepped down from this group on Monday.

This morning, Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing announced his resignation from the manufacturing council, calling it “the right thing for me to do.”

This afternoon, President Trump responded to questions about why these executives are distancing themselves from the White House.

“Because they’re not taking their jobs seriously as it pertains to this country,” said Trump, according to a pool report. “They’re leaving out of embarrassment because they’re making their products outside” the U.S.

For the sake of fairness, it should be pointed out that Trump-branded products and clothing from Ivanka Trump’s brand are also made overseas.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk previously exited two White House advisory groups following Trump’s pledge to withdraw from the Paris Accords on climate change.

This afternoon, Trump made additional remarks about Charlottesville that are unlikely to quell any concerns among company executives.

“I think there’s blame on both sides,” said Trump, speaking at a press event in his namesake Manhattan tower. “And I have no doubt about it.”

“You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent,” added the President. “No one wants to say that, but I’ll say it right now: You had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit and they were very, very violent.”