Why CEOs spurned Donald Trump's business councils, in their own words


Technology giant Intel's chief executive officer Brian Krzanich has joined pharmaceuticals firm Merck's boss Ken Frazier in quitting Donald Trump's American Manufacturing Council following the United States president's failure to unequivocally condemn the far right in his initial statements, after violence erupted at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, West Virginia.

"Following yesterday's remarks from the president, I can not remain on the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative", Morrison said in a statement.

Without mentioning Charlottesville or the president's response he concluded: "I love our country and our company and will continue to focus my efforts on inspiring every person that they can do anything through the power of sport which promotes unity, diversity and inclusion".

Hours after Frazier resigned, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank also said he was stepping down from the council.

"America's leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy", Frazier said. "As CEO of Merck, and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism".

Throughout the day, other CEOs on the manufacturing council condemned racism after the weekend's white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Earlier Wednesday, the CEOs of Under Armour, Intel, Merck quit earlier this week.

"Earlier today I called on all leaders to condemn the white supremacists and their ilk who marched and committed violence", he said, adding in a pointed parting shot: "I resigned because I want to make progress, while many in Washington seem more concerned with attacking anyone who disagrees with them".

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"Thanks @Merck Ken Frazier for strong leadership to stand up for the moral values that made this country what it is", said Unilever chief executive Paul Polman on Twitter. His remarks started a cascade, with the AFL-CIO's Richard Trumka and Thea Lee next to leave the manufacturing group."We can not sit on a council for a President who tolerates bigotry and domestic terrorism".

A White House official downplayed the importance of the manufacturing council and a separate policy and strategy forum featuring corporate leaders.

He wrote on Twitter: "Am departing presidential councils". The president added that he believes economic growth in the USA will heal its racial divide.

After the Charlottesville protests over the weekend, during which one woman was killed and several others injured, three business leaders have quit Trump's council as a result of him not taking a harder stance on the issue.

"We must engage if we hope to change the world and those who lead it", he said in a statement.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk resigned from the manufacturing council in June, and two other advisory groups to the president, after the US withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement.