Trump Ends CEO Advisory Councils as Main Group Acts to Disband

Reuters

"In the past week, we have seen and heard of public events and statements that run counter to our values as a country and a company".

While some, like GE Chairman Jeff Immelt, had planned earlier in the week to stay aboard Trump's councils, despite the president's initial statements about the violence in Charlottesville, further remarks from Trump during a Tuesday press conference helped reverse that decision.

The council included Laurence D. Fink of BlackRock, Ginni Rometty of IBM, Rich Lesser of the Boston Consulting Group and Toby Cosgrove of the Cleveland Clinic, among others. The two councils - which have been plagued by controversy and boycott calls directed at council members' firms - were moving to disband when Trump made his announcement on Twitter. A member of the Strategic and Policy Forum told CNBC that it wanted to make a "more significant impact" by disbanding the entire group: "It makes a central point that it's not going to go forward". The President then posted his Tweet, announcing that he was dissolving the councils. According to the statement, "the President and we are disbanding the Forum".

Schwarzman and the CEOs on the policy forum were shocked and disputed Trump's notion that he ended things when in fact they did, the newspaper said.

The exodus began with Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier on Monday, who said, "As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism".

"Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both". The statement drew sharp criticism from allies including Republican officials, conservative media personalities and U.K. Prime Minister Teresa May, enveloping his seven-month-old presidency in controversy and leaving him increasingly isolated.

Rometty does not make any link between Trump's worryingly tepid response to the fascists marching in Charlottesville, Virginia, and IBM's decision.

Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk both departed the strategy forum earlier in the year. Numerous other services that provide collaborative environments, among them Facebook, have also said they will block service to such groups.

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