Business leaders quit Trump panel; he hits back hard


The chief executive of one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies resigned on Monday from a business panel led by Donald Trump, citing a need for leadership countering bigotry in a strong rebuke to the USA president over his response to a violent white-nationalist rally in Virginia.

The American Manufacturing Council, which Trump established in January with about two dozen members, is supposed to meet occasionally to offer the President advice on job growth.

Then came resignations from Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank and then Intel CEO Brian Krzanich. "I've been lecturing them, including the gentleman that you're referring to, about you have to bring it back to this country", he said.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday ripped into business leaders who resigned from his White House jobs panel - the latest sign that corporate America's romance with Trump is faltering - after his equivocal response to violence by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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"We've learned that as president, Mr. Trump is behaving exactly as he did as a candidate", Galston said.

Richard Trumka, President of the 12.5-million-member AFL-CIO, announced on Tuesday: "I can not sit on a council for a President that tolerates bigotry and domestic terrorism". "I am stepping down from the council to focus on inspiring and uniting through power of sport", Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank said on Twitter.

The council, created during President George W. Bush's administration, is made up of 25 executives of major private manufacturers and gives advice to the president and his commerce secretary.

"America's leaders must honour our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy", said Frazier.

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Trump initially did not name white supremacists in his condemnation of the weekend's events in Charlottesville, which saw violence erupt between alt-right protesters and counter-protesters.

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk resigned from the manufacturing council in June, and two other advisory groups to the President, after the United States withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement.

Two days later and after intense criticism, Trump on Monday called out the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists as "evil" and "hate groups" that are "repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans". "Johnson & Johnson has a responsibility to remain engaged, not as a way to support any specific political agenda, but as a way to represent the values of Our Credo as crucial public policy is discussed and developed", he said. Trump bashed Frazier in a tweet on Monday, saying the CEO would "have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!"

"I resigned because I want to make progress, while many in Washington seem more concerned with attacking anyone who disagrees with them".

Trump Attacks Merck CEO for Resigning from a White House Manufacturing Council
But the CEOs who quit Trump's advisory councils have said they resigned "on behalf of America's working people". Several companies that announced they were remaining with the council added their condemnation of racism.

Mr Frazier is not the first executive to resign from advisory councils serving Mr Trump. "You had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent", Trump said in a statement.