Trump criticizes CEOs as 'grandstanders' after Plank, others depart jobs panel

Gwen Vasquez
August 20, 2017

The president tweeted at 1:14 p.m. Wednesday afternoon that he was ending the forum and a parallel manufacturing council "rather than put pressure on the businesspeople" serving on them.

President Trump's initial failure to condemn white supremacy on Saturday was too much for Kenneth Frazier. Although he condemned the "hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides - on many sides", Trump declined to single out white nationalists.

Within hours, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, who has felt some blowback for his support of the president, resigned from the same panel, saying his company "engages in innovation and sports, not politics".

The CEOs of athletic-wear manufacturer Under Armour, computer-chip maker Intel and pharmaceutical company Merck resigned Monday from the White House's American Manufacturing Council - with the Merck withdrawal drawing a quick and angry Twitter outburst from President Donald Trump.

"I resigned because I want to make progress, while many in Washington seem more concerned with attacking anyone who disagrees with them", Krzanich added.

Frazier said in announcing his decision, "I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism".

While not commenting directly on Charlottesville in a flurry of tweets, Trump did note the memorial service for "beautiful and incredible Heather Heyer, a truly special young woman".

Trump criticizes CEOs as 'grandstanders' after Plank, others depart jobs panel

Although the White House did release a statement that said "of course" Trump's condemnation included "white supremacists, KKK Neo-Nazi and all extremist groups", the statement was attributed to an unnamed spokesperson. "I am an engineer who has spent most of his career working in factories that manufacture the world's most advanced devices", he wrote.

Though the policy influence of such advisory groups is sometimes questionable, simply meeting with Trump with TV cameras going is valuable face-time for the executives - and for the president.

Thulin's exit marks the seventh exit from the president's manufacturing advisory council since the weekend's Charlottesville protests.

However, there have already been a number of resignations from the panel over differences with the Trump administration.

Trumka followed Fraziers denunciation of white supremacists and violent actions committed in Charlottesville Wednesday on Twitter. The President's Strategic and Policy Forum was conceived as a bi-partisan group of business leaders called to serve our country by providing independent feedback and perspectives directly to the President on accelerating economic growth and job creation in the United States.

Trump's aides did not expect the president to take questions at an event at Trump Tower on Tuesday touting infrastructure plans, but he wound up telling reporters that left wing protesters were just as responsible for the violence as white supremacists - despite a hit-and-run vehicle attack by an alleged white nationalist that left one protester dead and injured 19 others. But they also said they'd stay on the council so they could advise the government on ways to strengthen manufacturing. "We should honor - not attack - those who have stood up for equality and other cherished American values". But Trump, whose presidential campaign was championed by prominent white supremacists such as David Duke, has come under fire not speaking out clearly on the matter.

But many players in biotech (and some in pharma) were more vocal during another controversial moment in Trump's presidency: His travel ban targeting Muslim refugees and people from certain Muslim-majority countries.

More news: Merck chief Ken Frasier resigns from Trump council

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