“Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!,” Trump tweeted yesterday afternoon.
The decision came after a wave of resignations from the Manufacturing Council – caused by his failure to condemn the violence by white supremacists that caused the death of Heather Heyer in a rally in Charlottesville, VA, on Saturday.
The first to resign was Kenneth Frazier, CEO of Merck, who in a statement on Monday said: “AS CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”
Trump harangued Frazier for his resignation, later goading further resignations by calling those choosing to resign “grandstanders” and tweeting that he had “many to take their place.”
Following Frazier’s resignation more chose to leave the group including Kevin Plank, CEO of Under Armour, Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel, and Scott Paul, president of Alliance for American Manufacturing.
Three more then chose to step down – Richard Trumka, president of AFL-CIO, Inge Thulin, CEO of 3M and Denise Morrison, CEO of Campbell Soup Company – after Trump spoke again in a press conference on Tuesday, seeming to defend white supremacists by stating that “both sides” were to blame for violence.
CEO of United Technologies Greg Hayes was criticised after he released a statement tendering his resignation just five minutes after Trump had tweeted that he was disbanding the councils.
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, while not in Trump's council, joined others in condemning the president’s actions following the violence.
In a letter to Apple staff, quoted in the FT, Cook wrote, “I disagree with the president and others who believe that there is a moral equivalence between white supremacists and Nazis, and those who oppose them by standing up for human rights.”