WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he had disbanded two of his business advisory panels as more corporate executives resigned in protest of his handling of the racially charged conflict in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Eight of the country’s top CEOs have severed ties with the presidential manufacturing council, some citing Trump’s failure to be unambiguous in disavowing white supremacists and right-wing hate groups.
Additionally, Jamie Dimon, chairman of banking giant JPMorgan Chase & Co, said the presidential strategy and policy forum on which he sat had agreed to disband.
Ginni Rometty, chief executive of IBM, also indicated that forum members made the decision on their own. “We have disbanded,” she wrote as part of a message to her employees.
In a tweet Wednesday, Trump said: “Rather than putting pressure on the business people of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!”
On Tuesday, Trump had criticized those distancing themselves as “grandstanders” and said he had replacements ready.
The rift between some corporate leaders and the president, himself a former Manhattan business executive, following Trump’s Charlottesville remarks appeared to widen Wednesday.
Trump told reporters Tuesday that “very fine people” could be found among both the white nationalists and the counterprotesters. He also returned to his original premise that “both sides” should shoulder blame for the deadly violence.
Dimon said he strongly disagrees with Trump’s response.
“There is no room for equivocation here: the evil on display by these perpetrators of hate should be condemned and has no place in a country that draws strength from our diversity and humanity,” he said in a statement.
Another forum member, Walmart President Doug McMillon, also had rebuked Trump for missing “a critical opportunity to help bring our country together by unequivocally rejecting the appalling actions of white supremacists.”
Inge Thulin, president of 3M, and Denise Morrison, president of canned soup maker Campbell, were the seventh and eighth executives to leave the manufacturing council following Trump’s Charlottesville remarks.
“Racism and murder are unequivocally reprehensible and are not morally equivalent to anything else that happened in Charlottesville,” Morrison said.
Trump said Tuesday of the fleeing executives, “They’re leaving out of embarrassment because they make their products outside [the U.S.].”
With Tom Brune