Trump Manufacturing Council Disbanded After Additional CEOs Resign

Image courtesy of afagen

The private sector fallout continues for President Trump’s widely excoriated remarks about the tragic events at a recent white nationalist rally in Virginia. Two presidential advisory groups have been disbanded following the exit of additional CEOs and labor leaders.

The President announced his decision in a Tweet this afternoon, saying, “Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council and Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!”

This stands in sharp contrast to the statement Trump made on Twitter only 24 hours earlier, when he said, “For every CEO that drops out of the Manufacturing Council, I have many to take their place. Grandstanders should not have gone on. JOBS!”

So what changed? In the day that passed since the first statement, a trickle of resigning executives seems to have been poised to turn into a flood.

You can’t quit, you’re fired!

No sooner had the announcement been made when seemingly nearly all of Twitter pounced on it with the exact same joke: “It’s the old ‘you can’t fire me, I quit’ routine,” hundreds if not thousands of people said all at once.

There’s a reason everyone went straight for the same joke, though: It appears to be spot on, just reversed.

The two groups, between them, were originally composed of a few dozen CEOs from a wide array of major American companies. That included traditional conglomerates like 3M, GE, and Dow, as well as tech firms, retailers, pharmaceutical companies, and food manufacturers — all of them major players in their industries and in the U.S. economy.

A few CEOs, like Walmart’s Doug McMillion, distanced themselves from Trump’s position on the white supremacist rally but said they would remain in their advisory roles.

Kenneth Frazier of Merck was the first one to resign in the wake of this weekend’s events. Bright and early Monday morning, Merck posted a statement from Frazier announcing his reisgnation, which he concluded, “As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”

Top executives from Under Armour and Intel also announced their resignations from the Council later that day, and were followed on Tuesday and Wednesday by the Alliance for American Manufacturing, the AFL-CIO, 3M, and Campbell’s.

The New York Times wrote just before Trump’s announcement that during a conference call Wednesday morning, the Strategic and Policy Forum members suggested the idea of disbanding the Forum altogether. Reporter Landon Thomas noted that of 12 CEOs on the call nine said they would resign if the panel were not disbanded. The Manufacturing Council had been scheduled for a similar call later in the day.

The Wall Street Journal also reports that the President made his announcement shortly after receiving a phone call from Blackstone Group CEO Stephen Schwarzman, leader of the Strategic & Policy Forum, who called to say the panel would be disbanding.