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More CEOs Quit Trump Advisory Council After Merck Chief Resigns Over Charlottesville

Heads of Under Armour and Intel followed Merck’s Ken Frazier in stepping down from the manufacturing panel.
WASHINGTON ― Three CEOs on the White House manufacturing council resigned in protest Monday over President Donald Trump’s botched response to a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Merck & Co. CEO Ken Frazier, the only African-American on the council, was first to step down “to take a stand against intolerance and extremism,” he said in a statement. The move drew an immediate rebuke from Trump, who claimed on Twitter that the pharmaceuticals chief would now “have more time to lower ripoff drug prices.”

Later, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank quit the group “to focus my efforts on inspiring every person that they can do anything through the power of sport which promotes unity, diversity and inclusion,” he said in a statement.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich resigned “to call attention to the serious harm our divided political climate is causing to critical issues,” he said in a statement. “I resigned because I want to make progress, while many in Washington seem more concerned with attacking anyone who disagrees with them,” Krzanich added. “We should honor ― not attack ― those who have stood up for equality and other cherished American values.”

After Trump’s initial response blaming “many sides” for the mayhem on Saturday, bipartisan criticism forced him to condemn white supremacist groups on Monday, referring to them as “criminals and thugs” and calling them “repugnant.”

Representatives for most of the CEOs on Trump’s manufacturing council did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s queries about Frazier’s resignation and whether they agreed with his statement. Some declined to comment outright. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said he was re-evaluating his participation in the council.

“We are aware of the decisions by other members of the President’s Manufacturing Council, which has yet to hold any real meeting, and are assessing our role,” Trumka said in a statement. “While the AFL-CIO will remain a powerful voice for the freedoms of working people, there are real questions into the effectiveness of this council to deliver real policy that lifts working families.”

Other CEOs on the council issued statements condemning bigotry and violence on display in Charlottesville over the weekend, while also making clear that they intended to remain on the panel.

“In Dow there is no room for hatred, racism, or bigotry,” said Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris. “Dow will continue to work to strengthen the social and economic fabric of the communities where it operates – including supporting policies that help create employment opportunities in manufacturing and rebuild the American workforce.”

Campbell Soup CEO Denise Morrison denounced the “racist ideology at the center of the protests” in Charlottesville and called on others to do the same, but added that she would stay on the council in order to “have a voice and provide input on matters that will affect our industry.”

A spokeswoman for General Electric said the company condemns the hatred and bigotry on display in at the rally in Charlottesville. However, that spokesperson added, CEO Jeff Immelt will also remain on the council because “it is important for GE to participate in the discussion on how to drive growth and productivity in the U.S.”

Lauren Lee, a spokeswoman for Dell, said there is “no change in Dell engaging with the Trump administration and governments around the world to share our perspective on policy issues that affect our company, our customers and our employees.”

Whirlpool Corp. said it “believes strongly in an open and inclusive culture that respects people of all races” and that it would continue on the council.

Under Armour’s Plank, who has faced criticism over his past praise of Trump and who later denounced some of Trump’s policies, initially tweeted that his company is “saddened” by the violence in Charlottesville.

“There is no place for racism or discrimination in this world. We choose love & unity,” Plank added. Monday evening, he resigned from the group.

Nucor and International Paper also denounced the violence over the weekend. They, too, said they would remain on the council.

Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson, Corning CEO Wendell Weeks, and Harris Corp. CEO Bill Brown declined to comment. A representative for Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, said he was traveling and unavailable to comment.

While Ford Motor Co. initially participated in the council, it is no longer a member.

“Ford does not have a representative on the manufacturing council,” Michael Levine, a Ford spokesman, told HuffPost. CEO Jim Hackett, who replaced Mark Fields in May, quickly distanced himself from the White House and did not rejoin the council.

Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of SpaceX and Tesla, also resigned from the council earlier this year due to Trump’s decision to leave the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Here’s a list of the president’s remaining American Manufacturing Council members:

Andrew Liveris, Dow Chemical Co.

Bill Brown, Harris Corporation

Michael Dell, Dell Technologies

John Ferriola, Nucor

Jeff Fettig, Whirlpool

Alex Gorsky, Johnson & Johnson

Greg Hayes, United Technologies Corp.

Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin Corp.

John Flannery, General Electric Co.

Jim Kamsickas, Dana Inc.

Rich Kyle, Timken Co.

Thea Lee, AFL-CIO

Denise Morrison, Campbell Soup

Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing Co.

Doug Oberhelman, Caterpillar Inc.

Scott Paul, Alliance for American Manufacturing

MIchael Polk, Newell Brands

Mark Sutton, International Paper

Inge Thulin, 3M Co.

Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO

Wendell Weeks, Corning

This article has been updated to include the resignations of the Under Armour and Intel CEOs.

Alexander Kaufman and Marina Fang contributed reporting.

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