The CEOs of Intel Corp. and Under Armour Inc. became the latest to quit President Donald Trump’s American Manufacturing Council late Monday over the president’s initial refusal to criticize white supremacists and neo-Nazis demonstrating in Charlottesville, Virginia.
They joined Kenneth Frazier, chief executive of pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. Inc., in quitting the council, an advisory body that had 28 members when the White House announced it in January.
When Trump formed the council, he clearly didn’t expect it to create many headlines. According to a release announcing the council’s formation: “No consensus advice or recommendations resulting from group deliberations or interaction is expected or will be solicited.”
In addition to the three resignations, several other council members have condemned the hate but refrained from criticizing the president himself, who blamed “many sides” for violence that left a 32-year-old woman dead and injured 34 others.
On Monday morning, Trump railed against Frazier for resigning from the group.
“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 on Merck’s Twitter account. “As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”
Less than an hour later, Trump took to Twitter to attack Frazier, followed by a second tweet aimed at Merck on Monday afternoon.
Late Monday, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich and Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank both announced their resignations from the council.
In a blog on the company’s website, Krzanich wrote: “Earlier today, I tendered my resignation from the American Manufacturing Council. I resigned to call attention to the serious harm our divided political climate is causing to critical issues, including the serious need to address the decline of American manufacturing. Politics and political agendas have sidelined the important mission of rebuilding America’s manufacturing base.”
In a statement released on Twitter, Plank wrote: “We remain resolute in our potential and ability to improve American manufacturing. However, Under Armour engages in innovation and sports, not politics.”
Trump tried to brush off the resignations this morning in a tweet: “For every CEO that drops out of the Manufacturing Council, I have many to take their place. Grandstanders should not have gone on. JOBS!”
After a political backlash, Trump on Monday denounced the views of the white supremacists who incited violence in Charlottesville as “evil.”
For their part, some fellow executives on the president’s advisory council called out hatred and bigotry, but not the president for his response to the violence.
“I condemn the violence this weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, and my thoughts and prayers are with those who lost loved ones and with the people of Virginia,” Andrew Liveris, The Dow Chemical Co.’s chief executive, said in a statement on Twitter. “In Dow there is no room for hatred, racism or bigotry.”
Jennifer Gollan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @jennifergollan.