Trump: CEOs leaving advisory council 'out of embarrassment'

The president's comments came after the leaders of Merck and Under Armour left.

ByABC News
August 15, 2017, 6:27 PM

— -- After four members of his American Manufacturing Council resigned earlier this week, President Donald Trump explained away the actions as ones made out of "embarrassment" over the issue of outsourcing.

"Some of the folks that will leave, they're leaving out of embarrassment because they make their products outside [of the United States,]" Trump said Tuesday as he fielded questions following scheduled remarks on his infrastructure plans.

This week, the CEOs of Merck, Intel, Under Armour and the president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing all announced their departures from the advisory panel in the wake of Trump's response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, Saturday.

Two more leaders, Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO labor union, and Thea Lee, the AFL-CIO's former deputy chief of staff, announced their resignations following Trump's comments, which assigned "blame" to protesters on "both sides" last weekend.

Trump said that he had been "lecturing" business leaders about returning manufacturing to the U.S.

"You have to bring this work back to this country," said Trump Tuesday. "That's what I want. I want manufacturing to be back into the United States so that American workers can benefit."

The president has himself admitted to producing Trump-branded products internationally on various occasions after it became a critique of his rivals during last year's presidential election. As recently as mid-July, during the White House's self-proclaimed "Made in America" week, then-press secretary Sean Spicer explained Trump's rationale for allowing such items to be manufactured overseas.

"I can tell you that in some cases, there are certain supply chains or scalability that may not be available in this country," said Spicer on July 17.

Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier announced Monday that he was resigning from the president's council, saying in statement that as a "matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism."

"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," he said.

The president responded first on Twitter, slamming Frazier's decision.

Since then, Frazier has been joined by Intel's Brian Krzanich, Under Armour's Kevin Planck and the Alliance for American Manufacturing's Scott Paul in leaving the group.

On Saturday, Trump said the hatred, bigotry and violence in Charlottesville need to end on "many sides."

He was summarily criticized for not directly condemning white supremacist and extremist groups.

A White House official said Trump was "condemning hatred, bigotry and violence from all sources and all sides" when asked what he meant when he condemned the "many sides" involved in violence in Charlottesville.

On Monday, Trump issued a second statement, taking a stronger stance on hate groups, including white supremacists, in remarks from the White House.

"Racism is evil," said Trump, two days after a driver rammed a car into a crowd of people in the midst of violent clashes over a white nationalist rally in the city. "And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the [Ku Klux Klan], neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans."

Just after taking office, Trump announced the establishment of a manufacturing council, with Frazier as the only black male executive included.

Trump called Frazier one of the "great, great leaders of business in the country" at a July 30 event at the White House.

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