Canadian Markets closed

Trump shuts down council after slew of CEOs quit

This post was updated at 2:01 p.m. EST on Aug. 16, 2017.

Shortly after two more top CEOs abandoned the White House’s manufacturing council, President Donald Trump announced that he would be disbanding his two councils of business leaders.

“Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday afternoon.

3M CEO Inge Thulin and Campbell Soup Company CEO Denise Morrison joined a slew of business leaders resigning from the manufacturing council and distancing themselves from the president. This follows Trump’s widely-criticized response to this past weekend’s white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which turned deadly.

During a press conference on Tuesday, Trump insisted that both left- and right-wing groups were to blame for the violence that erupted in Charlottesville, where white nationalists went to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Army general Robert E. Lee.

Many CEOs only distanced themselves once others had done so.

“Racism and murder are unequivocally reprehensible and are not morally equivalent to anything else that happened in Charlottesville,” Morrison said in a tweeted statement. “I believe the president should have been – and still needs to be – unambiguous on that point.”

“I joined the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative in January to advocate for policies that align with our values and encourage even stronger investment and job growth — in order to make the United States stronger, healthier and more prosperous for all people,” said Thulin. “After careful consideration, I believe the initiative is no longer an effective vehicle for 3M to advance these goals. As a result, today I am resigning from the Manufacturing Advisory Council.”

Tesla CEO is seen here leaving Trump’s council. He left permanently after the President pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement. (AP)

Early on Monday, Merck CEO Kenneth C. Frazier quit the manufacturing council following Trump’s muted response to the rally where a Nazi sympathizer drove a car into the crowd and killed a woman who was protesting. Two police officers died as well.

After Frazier’s resignation, more CEOs followed.

Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank announced his resignation late Monday evening, saying “Under Armour engages in innovation and sports, not politics.”

Intel Corp CEO Brian Krzanich announced his resignation after Plank late on Monday evening.

“I resigned to call attention to the serious harm our divided political climate is causing to critical issues, including the serious need to address the decline of American manufacturing,” Krzanich said. “Politics and political agendas have sidelined the important mission of rebuilding America’s manufacturing base.”

Immediately after Frazier resigned, President Trump took to Twitter to attack the pharmaceutical company boss. Krzanich addressed such attacks in his statement.

“I resigned because I want to make progress, while many in Washington seem more concerned with attacking anyone who disagrees with them,” he said. “We should honor – not attack – those who have stood up for equality and other cherished American values.”


On Tuesday morning, Frazier, Plank, and Krzanich were joined by a non-CEO member of the council, Scott Paul, the president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing who said leaving was the “right thing for me to do” on Twitter. Richard Trumpka, president of the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the U.S., followed on Tuesday evening. He was joined by another AFL-CIO representative on the council, Thea Lee.

After Trump tweeted that he was disbanding the councils, more business leaders announced they would exit, despite there not being any council left to leave. Johnson and Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky and GE non-executive president Jeff Immelt just missed the cutoff to resign, though Immelt told Yahoo Finance that he notified “members of the council Wednesday morning.”

Here’s a list of who was on the manufacturing council, along with any responses we’ve received from the companies.

Resigned from council

Elon Musk, Tesla

Musk left following Trump pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Climate agreement.

Ken Frazier, Merck & Co., Inc.

Kevin Plank, Under Armour

Brian Krzanich, Intel

Scott Paul, Alliance for American Manufacturing

On Tuesday, August 15th, Scott Paul announced on Twitter that he was leaving because it was the “right thing for me to do.”

Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO

Thea Lee, AFL-CIO

Inge Thulin, 3M

Denise Morrison, Campbell Soup Company

No longer CEOs (still listed on White House web site)

Klaus Kleinfeld, Arconic

Mark Fields, Ford Motor Company

Mario Longhi, U.S. Steel

Doug Oberhelman, Caterpillar

Were on council until the end

Andrew Liveris, The Dow Chemical Company 

The Dow Chemical Company said Liveris would remain on the council.

Bill Brown, Harris Corporation

Harris declined to comment.

Michael Dell, Dell Technologies

Dell declined to say whether Michael Dell would leave the council.

John Ferriola, Nucor Corporation

Jeff Fettig, Whirlpool Corporation

“The company will continue on the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative to represent our industry, our 15,000 U.S. workers, and to provide input and advice on ways to create jobs and strengthen U.S. manufacturing competitiveness,” a Whirlpool spokesperson told Yahoo Finance.

Alex Gorsky, Johnson & Johnson

Gorsky announced his resignation on Wednesday, but the announcement came after Trump disbanded his councils.

Greg Hayes, United Technologies Corp.

Marillyn A. Hewson, Lockheed Martin Corporation

A Lockheed Martin spokesperson declined to comment.

Jeff Immelt, General Electric

GE said its non-executive chair Immelt will remain on the council.

After Trump shut down his councils, Immelt told Yahoo Finance he was leaving the council.

Jim Kamsickas, Dana Inc.

Rich Kyle, The Timken Company

Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing

Michael Polk, Newell Brands

Mark Sutton, International Paper

According to Business Insider, the company will remain on the council.

Wendell Weeks, Corning       

Ethan Wolff-Mann is a writer at Yahoo Finance, covering consumer issues and personal finance.