Donald Trump

Photo via marcn/Flickr (CC-BY)

Trump abruptly disbands 2 advisory councils after business leaders quit en masse

Is Trump too toxic for businesses?


Andrew Couts


Posted on Aug 16, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 8:22 pm CDT

Top corporate leaders have disbanded President Donald Trump‘s Strategic and Policy Forum in protest of the president’s remarks regarding a violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In response, Trump abruptly shut down his Manufacturing Council, which lost several members this week following Trump’s failure to properly condemn white supremacists in Charlottesville, where one woman died and 20 more were injured when a man reportedly affiliated with racist factions drove his car into a group of counterprotesters.

On Saturday, Trump condemned violence from “many sides” in Charlottesville, an equivocation between white supremacists and those standing in opposition to them that drew widespread criticism. Trump issued a second statement on Monday, saying that “racism is evil” and hate groups are “repugnant.” But he backtracked that condemnation during a Tuesday press conference in which he again blamed “both sides” for committing acts of violence and said there are “very fine people” among both neo-Nazis and similar racist groups and those who oppose them.

Trump’s statements, which have been widely condemned, put heavy pressure on the business leaders on the advisory councils to distance themselves from the president.

Members of the Strategic and Policy Forum, led by Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman, included JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon, Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon, former General Electric Chairman and CEO Jack Welch, PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi, and 11 others.

Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick left the Strategic and Policy Forum in February over Trump’s travel ban, while Tesla CEO Elon Musk left both the Strategic and Policy Forum and the Manufacturing Council over Trump pulling the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord. Disney CEO Robert Iger also left the Strategic and Policy Forum prior to the events in Charlottesville.

The exodus from Trump’s advisory councils sparked by Trump’s remarks about Charlottesville began on Monday with Merk Pharmaceuticals CEO Kenneth Frazier, whom Trump attacked on Twitter after his exit. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich and Under Armour’s Kevin Plank soon followed. Prior to Trump dissolving the Manufacturing Council on Wednesday, 3M CEO Inge Thulin and Campbell Soup CEO Denise Morrison remained.

Trump’s decision to disband his business-focused advisory councils appears to have been a last-minute decision. One day before, Trump responded to those leaving the Manfacturing Council, saying he had “many to take their place.”

Share this article
*First Published: Aug 16, 2017, 2:10 pm CDT