White House Disbands Business Advisory Boards in Charlottesville Fallout

(CN) – President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he is disbanding two business advisory councils after a flood of criticism led some chief executives to quit over the president’s response to violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend.

The heads of manufacturers 3M and Campbell’s Soup both announced Wednesday they were quitting the manufacturing council, and the other group, led by Blackstone Chief Executive Steven Schwarzman, was said to be on the verge of disbanding.

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

Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier, the only black business leader on the Manufacturing Council, was first to resign, doing so Monday morning,  after Trump initially failed to explicitly denounce white nationalists.

Later Monday, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank joined Frazier in leaving the council. The sporting-goods CEO said he decided to do so because his company “engages in innovation and sports, not politics.”

That same night, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich released a statement saying he too was stepping down from the council.

The exodus continued with two more prominent executives resigning from the council on Tuesday, and two more doing so Wednesday.

Then, on Wednesday morning, Schwarzman who is a close friend of the president, organized a conference call for members of the president’s Strategic and Policy Forum.

On the call, the chief executives of some of the largest companies in the country debated how to proceed. After a discussion, the CEOs decided to abandon the group altogether.

The dissolution of the council is a major setback for a president who had cast himself as a business leader who could bring greater prosperity to companies and the economy.



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