For a third time since he took office, President Donald Trump has repulsed members of his two main private-sector advisory groups. This time, three corporate titans distanced themselves from the White House following the president’s weak and widely criticized response to last weekend’s white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Late Monday, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich joined the bosses of athletic wear manufacturer Under Armour and drugmaker Merck in resigning from the manufacturing council. The White House announced the formation of the 28-member group in January to elicit advice from the private sector on creating more U.S. factory jobs.
But for the heads of three publicly traded corporate giants, Trump’s unwillingness to come out fast and hard in specifically denouncing neo-Nazis, the KKK and other racist hate groups that marched in Virginia was too much for them to tolerate.
“I have already made clear my abhorrence at the recent hate-spawned violence in Charlottesville, and earlier today I called on all leaders to condemn the white supremacists and their ilk who marched and committed violence,” Krzanich said in a post on Intel’s blog last Monday. “I resigned because I want to make progress, while many in Washington seem more concerned with attacking anyone who disagrees with them.”
The president initially blamed the violence “on many sides,” eliciting condemnation from across the political spectrum for not specifically denouncing the white supremacist groups.
Trump garnered a lot of support from far-right communities during his presidential election campaign, and he was criticized for not speaking out against the white supremacists, even after former KKK leader David Duke expressed support of Trump’s electoral victory. It took days from the start of the rally on Friday night — and the violence Saturday — before the president came out on Monday specifically denouncing the KKK and neo-Nazis, instead of issuing vague remarks partially blaming anti-fascists for the violence.
Even Karl Rove denounced Trump's inaction.
Krzanich’s decision to leave the president’s manufacturing council came after Merck’s Ken Frazier, one of the country’s most prominent African-American CEOs, announced his decision to leave the council early on Monday “as a matter of personal conscience.” As usual, Trump was quick to lash out at a critic using his beloved personal Twitter account, lashing out at Frazier over high drug prices.
Shortly after, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank announced his intentions to leave the council, saying his company “engages in innovation and sports, not politics.”
The recent resignations bring the number of executives to divorce themselves from the president to six.
In June, SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk dropped out of the manufacturing council and Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum, a separate private-sector advisory body, over Trump’s move to pull the U.S. from the global Paris climate agreement. Disney CEO Bob Iger joined Musk in leaving the policy forum for the same reason. Former Uber CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick left the policy forum after Trump initiated his Muslim travel ban earlier this year.
The departures still leave dozens of CEOs on both advisory councils, including Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase & Co., General Motors head Mary Barra, Boeing’s Dennis Muilenburg and Denise Morrison of Campbell Soup Company.
Three people were killed, including two police officers in a helicopter crash, and dozens were injured on Saturday as white supremacists and their critics clashed. Heather Heyer, 32, was killed and 19 were injured (five of them seriously) when a man drove his Dodge Challenger though a crowd of anti-fascism protesters. The alleged driver of the vehicle, James Alex Fields, 20, was arraigned on Monday on five charges, including second-degree murder.