Trump CEO strategy council is disbanding after exodus

Trump
Blackstone Group CEO Stephen Schwarzman, (right) listens as President Trump speaks during a meeting with business leaders in the State Department Library on the White House complex.

President Trump said he’s disbanding two advisory groups of American business leaders, after CEOs quit this week as the president faced blowback for failing to sufficiently condemn white supremacists.

Trump made the announcement on Twitter, less than an hour after one of the groups was said to be planning to inform the White House that it would disband.

“Rather than putting pressure on the business people of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!” Trump said on Twitter.

His remarks were a reversal of what he said a day before, when he tweeted that he had plenty of CEOs who wanted to be on the panels to replace those who quit, and called the CEOs who left “grandstanders.”

The executive council, which is led by Blackstone Group LP’s Stephen Schwarzman, planned to inform the White House Wednesday before making the announcement public, according to a person familiar with the matter, who wasn’t authorized to discuss the news publicly.

The strategy group is one of several the White House convened earlier this year to advise the president. Several CEOs from a manufacturing council quit this week, following blowback over Trump’s remarks about racially charged violence in Virginia on Saturday.

Pressure to leave the groups has built following a news conference Trump held in New York Tuesday where he placed partial blame for the weekend violence on demonstrators protesting a gathering of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia. A woman was killed during the event after a man rammed a car into a crowd.

While more than half a dozen CEOs have quit a manufacturing CEO group, others have said they wanted to stay on the panels in order to influence White House policy.

The manufacturing council hasn’t met since February. The CEOs of Under Armour, Intel, Merck quit earlier this week. And on Wednesday, Inge Thulin, CEO of 3M left, as did Campbell Soup CEO Denise Morrison.

“Following yesterday’s remarks from the president, I cannot remain on the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative,” Morrison said in a statement. “I will continue to support all efforts to spur economic growth and advocate for the values that have always made America great.”