After everyone leaves, Trump disbands 2 advisory councils

President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that he has dissolved the White House’s economic advisory council and manufacturing council — panels that consisted of business leaders from firms such as BlackRock, JPMorgan Chase, IBM and PepsiCo.

His decision came as a wave of the manufacturing council’s members decided to resign.

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

The chief executives of 3M Co. and Campbell Soup Co. were the latest to announce their departures. The CEOs of Merck & Co., Under Armour Inc. and Intel Corp. quit Monday, and on Tuesday, the president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing trade group and two AFL-CIO members left.

Despite Trump’s claims that it was his choice to disband the panels, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that the Strategic and Policy Forum had already decided to to end its work following Trump’s remarks.

The exodus from the panels followed Trump’s comments about last weekend’s deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va., in which white nationalists and anti-racist counterprotesters clashed. Trump initially did not say that hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis were behind the violence, and on Tuesday, he again faulted “both sides” evenly — a contention at odds with local police accounts.

Many of the members who resigned from the panels cited personal reasons.

Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier, one of corporate America’s leading African-American executives, was the first to step down this week.

“America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal,” Frazier said in a statement Monday. “As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”

Trump lashed out at Frazier on Twitter, criticizing Merck for what he said were its high drug prices.

Although Trump issued a statement later Monday specifically denouncing “the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups,” that didn’t stop the fallout.

As additional members left the manufacturing council, Trump lashed out again. “For every CEO that drops out of the Manufacturing Council, I have many to take their place,” he tweeted Tuesday. “Grandstanders should not have gone on. JOBS!”

–Tribune News Service

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