Months of anti-immigrant rhetoric, followed by explicit anti-immigrant polices, coupled with tacit approval of white nationalism, proved inconsequential to the three CEOs who have announce their departure from President Trump’s manufacturing council.
They were, however, pushed into a corner when Trump’s deliberately phrased tweet failed to denounce white extremism in his initial statement on the domestic terror attack in Charlottesville, VA, on Saturday.
On Sunday evening the CEO of pharmaceutical giant Merck, Kenneth C. Frazier, resigned from Trump’s manufacturing council. Frazier cited a “personal responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism” in an announcement shared to Twitter.
Before he even denounced the white nationalists who descended on Charlottesville, Trump attacked Frazier with an early morning tweet. When Trump finally did deliver a supposed “condemnation” of Saturday’s domestic terrorist attack, it was as painfully disingenuous and obviously no choice of his own.
By Monday evening, two CEOs who sat on the council joined Frazier in resigning. Kevin Plank, the CEO of Under Armor, announced that he was “stepping down” from the America Manufacturing Council with a vague statement on Twitter. Plank refrained from actually condemning Trump (and white nationalism), instead he said Under Armor will stick to sports.
Good for you, Kevin, but this doesn’t count as a decrying Trump’s blatant denial of white extremism — if Under Armor doesn’t “engage” in politics, maybe don’t join the President of the United States’ Manufacturing Council in the first place?
Following Plank and Frazier in resigning was Brian Krzanich, the CEO of Intel. In a statement Krzanich suggested he was not only appalled by Trump’s handling of Saturday’s attack, but the decline of American democracy.
“I resigned because I want to make progress, while many in Washington seem more concerned with attacking anyone who disagrees with them.,” Krzanich said. “It is clear even to me that nearly every issue is now politicized to the point where significant progress is impossible. Promoting American manufacturing should not be a political issue.”
Despite their dramatic exits, there’s nothing really that admirable about Frazier, Plank, and Kraznich’s decision to leave Trump’s council — they joined because they saw an opportunity to butter up the president and left because they realized it was bad press to remain.