Published: Sat, August 19, 2017
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

CEOs react to Trump's Charlottesville shame

CEOs react to Trump's Charlottesville shame

The departure of Kenneth Frazier from the president's American Manufacturing Council added to a storm of criticism of Trump over his handling of Saturday's violence in Charlottesville, in which a woman was killed when a man drove his auto into a group of counter-protesters.

Trump lashed out at Frazier on Twitter, criticizing Merck for what he said were its high drug prices.

Frazier, an African-American, was quoted by media as saying that he was leaving the council because USA leaders must "clearly reject expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy".

Frazier opposed the president's original statement from Saturday that blamed "many sides" for the violence that left three people dead, including one counter-protester who was run over when a vehicle driven by a white nationalist plowed into a crowd.

One woman was killed Saturday when a auto plowed into a group of counter-protesters who'd gathered to oppose a rally by white nationalists and others who oppose a plan to remove from a Charlottesville park of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

On Monday night, the CEOs of Under Armour and Intel followed Frazier and quit Trump's manufacturing council.

Trump had said "many sides" were involved, drawing fire from across the political spectrum for not specifically denouncing the far right.

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Corporate leaders have been willing to work with Trump on taxes, trade and reducing regulations, but they've increasingly found themselves grappling with cultural and social divides amid his lightning rod-style of leadership. Trump referenced violence "on many sides".

"I am appreciative of the opportunity to have served, but have chose to step down from the council".

Unilever CEO Paul Polman wrote on Twitter, "Thanks @Merck Ken Frazier for strong leadership to stand up for the moral values that made this country what it is".

After Trump's initial statement on Saturday, numerous Democrats and Republicans called on Trump be more forceful.

General Electric said the company has "no tolerance for hate, bigotry or racism".

"I am resigning from the President's American Manufacturing Council".

"President Trump's remarks today repudiate his forced remarks yesterday (Monday) about the KKK and neo-Nazis", Efe news quoted Trumka as saying, who was the fifth member to tender his resignation.

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"The President of the United States should not have to be publicly shamed into condemning neo-Nazis and white supremacists", tweeted Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich.

Kevin Plank, the CEO of Under Armour, quit the council later in the day.

One other member, Dell, said there was "no change" in how it is "engaging with the Trump administration" on policy issues that affect the company.

"I'm sure that corporate leaders feel some reticence to speak out because they're afraid of being attacked by the president by name", said Michael Strain, an economist at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

Richard Trumka, President of the 12.5-million-member AFL-CIO, announced on Tuesday: "I can not sit on a council for a President that tolerates bigotry and domestic terrorism". Homework is key because I know companies.

Trump was scheduled to meet with Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray on Monday morning to discuss the Charlottesville incident, the White House said in a statement.

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Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove was a member of one of those panels created to advise the president on the economy and jobs. The group, which raises money for an ambulance service in Israel, has been holding its annual gala at the resort since 2012.

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