Business leaders continue to resign from manufacturing council amid Trump criticism

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Despite President Donald Trump's efforts to label the CEOs who defected from his American Manufacturing Council as "grandstanders," business leaders have continued to drop from the panel, citing concerns over inclusivity.

The seventh leader to announce resignation following Trump's response to the violence in Charlottesville is the CEO of 3M Inge Thulin, who cited "sustainability, diversity and inclusion" as personal values that are "also fundamental to the 3M Vision."

"After careful consideration, I believe the initiative is no longer an effective vehicle for 3M to advance these goals," Thulin said in a statement.

Trump portrayed himself as unfazed by the departures Wednesday and said that he has other leaders to fill the vacancies. He later characterized some of the CEO decisions as the result of "embarrassment" over outsourcing during a highly charged exchange with reporters.

"For every CEO that drops out of the Manufacturing Council, I have many to take their place. Grandstanders should not have gone on. JOBS!" Trump tweeted Tuesday morning.

For every CEO that drops out of the Manufacturing Council, I have many to take their place. Grandstanders should not have gone on. JOBS!

- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 15, 2017Following Trump's tweet, Scott Paul, the president of Alliance for American Manufacturing, became the fourth business leader to step down from the council.

On Twitter, Paul announced he was resigning "because it's the right thing for me to do."

Later Tuesday, after Trump answered questions on his response to Saturday's violent clashes over a Confederate monument, in which he assigned "blame" to "both sides," AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and AFL-CIO's former Deputy Chief of Staff Thea Lee also resigned from the council.

The first three resignations came earlier, shortly after the weekend.

Intel's chief executive officer Brian Krzanich announced Monday he was leaving the council in a blog post on the company's website.

"I resigned to call attention to the serious harm our divided political climate is causing to critical issues, including the serious need to address the decline of American manufacturing," Krzanich said. "Politics and political agendas have sidelined the important mission of rebuilding America's manufacturing base."

Krzanich also said he had urged other leaders to condemn the white supremacists who took part in the Virginia rally.

"I have already made clear my abhorrence at the recent hate-spawned violence in Charlottesville, and earlier today I called on all leaders to condemn the white supremacists and their ilk who marched and committed violence," Krzanich said.

Kevin Plank, CEO of athletic wear design company Under Armour, and Kenneth Frazier, head of Merck -- one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world -- also quit the 25-member advisory panel on Monday.

Plank said he was resigning because he did not want to engage in politics.

"Under Armour engages in innovation and sports, not politics," Plank said in a statement Monday evening. "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."

Frazier, who had been the only African-American CEO to join the manufacturing council, announced early Monday morning that he was stepping down "as a matter of personal conscience."

"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," 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."

Trump slammed Frazier on Twitter a few hours after the announcement.

"Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President's Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES," Trump said Monday morning.

"@Merck Pharma is a leader in higher & higher drug prices while at the same time taking jobs out of the U.S. Bring jobs back & LOWER PRICES," Trump wrote in a separate tweet.

The president's initial response to Saturday's violence at the white Nationalist rally over a Confederate monument in the Virginia city, which left one dead and 19 injured after a car-ramming attack, was that both sides were to blame.

Days later, on Monday, Trump denounced neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan as "criminals and thugs," after political leaders on both the right and left criticized him for not condemning the hate groups by name.

He followed the remarks with a tweet saying, "Made additional remarks on Charlottesville and realize once again that the #Fake News Media will never be satisfied...truly bad people!"

ABC News' Taylor Dunn contributed to this report.

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