Following the recent violent White nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. and President Donald Trump’s toxic response, multiple members resigned from the American Manufacturing Council. Days later, in a state of pique, Trump disbanded the council.
The seven members that resigned included Kenneth Frazier, CEO of Merck & Co; Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel Corp.; Kevin Plank, CEO of Under Armour; Scott Paul, president of Alliance for American Manufacturing; Richard Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO; Inge Thulin, CEO, 3M and Denise Morrison, CEO, Campbell Soup Company.
President Donald Trump shakes hands with Merck CEO Ken Frazier during a “Made in America,” event regarding a pharmaceutical glass packaging initiative in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Thursday, July 20, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Trump also disbanded the Strategy and Policy Forum Council which Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced his resignation from on June 1, following Trump’s rejection of the Paris Climate Agreement.
“Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both,” Trump tweeted Aug. 16.
Trump, of course, spent of much the election campaign disparaging ethnic groups and Muslims. In addition, he continually claimed then President Barack Obama was not born in America. Yet these CEOs still saw fit to stand by him. Until Charlottesville, which saw White supremacists marching through Virginia’s streets yelling Nazi era slogans, attacking counter-protesters and killing a protester by ramming a car into a crowd.
Frazier – the only Black man on the council – was the first to declare his resignation on Aug. 14 following Charlottesville. Merck tweeted Frazier’s statement, which explicitly called on American leaders to “honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy.” The pharmaceutical CEO also added that “as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”
His comments came in response to Trump’s refusal to explicitly condemn alt-right groups, neo-Nazis and the KKK, who were all present at the Charlottesville rally.
Following Frazier’s resignation, Trump fired back minutes later by tweeting, “Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from the President’s Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!” In the past, Trump has criticized the CEO and company for its drug pricing and contribution to the U.S. workforce.
In a blog post, Krzanich said he resigned “to call attention to the serious harm our divided political climate is causing to critical issues.” The Intel CEO addressed Trump and others’ slow-acting response to the rally, by tweeting, “There should be no hesitation in condemning hate speech or white supremacy by name. #Intel asks all our countries leadership to do the same”
Plank, who received backlash last year after publicly supporting Trump, stepped down from the council, to ensure that “Under Armour engages in innovation and sports, not politics.” In an interview in December, Plank described Trump as being an “asset” to the country. He later clarified his comment and emphasized that the company engages in policy, not politics.
On Aug. 15, Paul retweeted Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who said: “The tragedy in Charlottesville this afternoon was domestic terrorism. We must all condemn hatred and white nationalism.” Paul later announced that he would be resigning from the council because “it’s the right thing for me to do.”