Trump announces end to manufacturing council amid resignations

A number of CEOs dropped from the manufacturing council in recent days.

ByABC News
August 16, 2017, 2:00 PM

— -- After several business leaders announced their resignations from the White House's American Manufacturing Council in recent days, President Donald Trump announced he was ending the panel Wednesday, along with the separate Strategic and Policy Forum.

"Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both," wrote Trump on Twitter. "Thank you all!"

Eight members of the American Manufacturing Council dropped from the panel following Trump's response to last weekend's violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. A ninth, Greg Hayes of United Technologies, announced his resignation just minutes after the president's tweet.

On Saturday, Trump received widespread criticism over his perceived weak response to a white nationalist rally in the central Virginia city which resulted in the death of a counter-protester struck by a vehicle. The president repeated sentiments Tuesday that he first expressed over the weekend when he said at a Trump Tower press conference that there was "blame" "on both sides" of Saturday's protests.

The American Manufacturing Council was established in January and featured 28 members at its start. Tesla CEO Elon Musk left the group in June in response to Trump's decision to remove the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord, the most recent resignation of a sitting CEO prior to that of Kenneth Frazier, the CEO of Merck who was the first to drop out this week.

The Strategic and Policy Forum, an additional group of business people advising the president, was considering disbanding prior to Trump's announcement, according to a report by The New York Times. The newspaper reported that several members spoke via conference call Wednesday morning to discuss the panel's future, a conversation rendered moot by the president's tweet.

In a joint statement, members of the Strategic and Policy Forum appeared to cast the decision to disband as a mutual one.

"As our members have expressed individually over the past several days, intolerance, racism and violence have absolutely no place in this country and are an affront to core American values," the statement reads in part. "... We believe the debate over Forum participation has become a distraction from our well-intentioned and sincere desire to aid vital policy discussions on how to improve the lives of everyday Americans. As such, the President and we are disbanding the Forum."

Trump was defiant in the wake of the resignations from the manufacturing council Tuesday, writing on Twitter that "for every CEO that drops out of the Manufacturing Council, I have many to take their place," and labeling those who had departed -- numbering four at the time -- "grandstanders."

In addition to Frazier and Hayes, the leaders to announce their resignations from the manufacturing council this week prior to Trump's announcement were: Kevin Plank of Under Armour, Brian Krzanich of Intel, Scott Paul of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, Richard Trumka and Thea Lee of the AFL-CIO, Inge Thulin of 3M and Denise Morrison of the Campbell Soup Company.

ABC News' Jordyn Phelps contributed to this report.

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