Donald Trump blasts CEOs who quit advisory panels as ‘grandstanders’

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Updated: August 15, 2017 10:19:58 PM

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday dismissed company executives who have resigned from one of his presidential advisory committees in reaction to his response following weekend violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Donald Trump, US President, Trump blasts CEOs, Donald Trump on CEOs, violence in Charlottesville, violence in Verginia, Manufacturing Council, Grandstanders, Presidential Manufacturing Council, Merck & Co Inc, Under Armour Inc, Intel CorpFor every CEO that drops out of the Manufacturing Council, I have many to take their place, Trump said. (Image: Reuters)

U.S. President Donald Trump hit back on Tuesday at business leaders who quit a presidential advisory panel in protest over his response to a rally by far-right groups that turned deadly in Virginia, calling the executives “grandstanders.” Trump has faced a storm of criticism from Democrats and members of his own Republican party over his initial response to Saturday’s violence around the rally in Charlottesville. Three business leaders quit a Trump panel in protest on Monday and on Tuesday Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, said on Twitter he was also resigning from the initiative “because it is the right thing for me to do.”

Trump bowed on Monday to two days of pressure for a more forceful response to the Charlottesville violence, singling out groups behind the “Unite the Right” rally that were widely seen as stoking the disturbances, in which a woman was killed. But he was still clearly frustrated over the reaction to his response. “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 said on Twitter on Tuesday. The head of pharmaceutical company Merck & Co Inc, Kenneth Frazier, quit the president’s American Manufacturing Council in protest on Monday. The CEOs of sportswear manufacturer Under Armour Inc and semiconductor chip maker Intel Corp, Kevin Plank and Brian Krzanich, followed suit later in the day. On Monday, Trump had struck back at Frazier after he quit the panel, saying in a Twitter post the Merck executive would now have more time to focus on lowering “ripoff” drug prices.

The president faced continuing criticism from within his own party. Republican U.S. Representative Charlie Dent said Trump’s comments on Monday, when he denounced neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacists by name, were better than his “failed response” over the weekend. But it still looked “a little bit forced and half-hearted,” Dent told MSNBC. Dent recalled statements Trump made during his presidential election campaign – including against Mexicans and Muslims – and said this affected how he was perceived. “It makes these situations more treacherous for the president,” Dent said.

Writing in the Financial Times on Tuesday, former U.S Treasury Secretary Larry Summers hailed Frazier for taking a stand against what Summers said had been Trump’s “manifestly inadequate” response to the Charlottesville violence.
Leaders in American industry should look to the Merck executive’s example, said Summers, who was treasury secretary under Democratic former President Bill Clinton. “Every member of Mr Trump’s advisory councils should wrestle with his or her conscience and ponder Edmund Burke’s famous warning that ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,'” Summers wrote.

After making his statement on Monday at the White House, Trump also lashed out at the media, where many commentators said his response to the unrest still rang hollow. “Made additional remarks on Charlottesville and realize once again that the #Fake News media will never be satisfied…truly bad people!” he said in a tweet. CNN has been one of the media most targeted by Trump for criticism. On Tuesday morning, he retweeted a cartoon that showed a train labeled “Trump” colliding with a person depicted as CNN and captioned, “Nothing can stop the #TrumpTrain !!” The tweet was deleted shortly afterwards.

Saturday’s trouble erupted after hundreds of white nationalists converged in Charlottesville to protest plans to remove a statue of General Robert E. Lee, commander of the pro-slavery Confederate army in the U.S. Civil War. Street brawls broke out as the white nationalists were met by crowds of anti-racism demonstrators. A car then plowed into a group of the counter-protesters, killing one woman and injuring 19 other people.

Police identified the driver as a 20-year-old man said to have harbored Nazi sympathies. He is charged with murder, malicious wounding and leaving the scene of a fatal accident. Undeterred by the Charlottesville violence, municipal leaders in cities across the United States have said they will step up efforts to pull Confederate statues from public spaces.

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