This Tuesday, President Trump will have dinner with five major US CEOs who publicly distanced themselves from him almost exactly a year ago, after his comments surrounding the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally.
Trump tweeted at the time that “both sides” of the rally, at which anti-racist protestor Heather Heyer was killed by a white supremacist, were made up of “some very fine people.” It’s one of the few statements the president has made that inspired actual backlash from business. In the days after the tweet, many CEOs quit his Advisory Board in response to public pressure.
Now, it seems, enough time has passed that those same CEOs are ready to put aside past differences and again try to influence the president who stood up for Nazis.
Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo and Mark Weinberger, the CEO of EY were both original members of Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum, which was dissolved in the wake of his comments on Charlottesville. On Tuesday, they’ll both dine with the president at Trump’s private golf club in Bedminster, N.J.
In August of last year, Nooyi wrote on Twitter that she was “heartbroken” by the violence at the white nationalist rally. She also reportedly spearheaded efforts to dissolve the council, behind the scenes. Weinberger also spoke out in August of last year, calling the violence in Charlottesville “deplorable” in a statement that did not mention Trump by name. Spokespeople for the companies did not respond to questions from CNBC about whether their CEOs’ views of Trump have changed since they quit the council.
[...]Alex Gorsky, who leads Johnson & Johnson [called] Trump’s response to the rally “unacceptable,” and said in a statement that it “has changed our decision to participate in the White House Manufacturing Advisory Council.” Nonetheless, Gorsky is on the guest list Tuesday for dinner at Bedminster. A spokesman for the company did not respond to a request for comment.
Gorsky will be one of three executives at the dinner Tuesday who formerly served on Trump’s manufacturing council. Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg and International Paper chief Mark Sutton were also part of the group, but they both kept a low profile in the immediate aftermath of the Charlottesville rally.
The White House says that the dinner is meant to be “an opportunity for the President to hear how the economy is doing from [the CEOs’] perspective and what their priorities and thoughts are for the year ahead.”
Personally, we find it hard to forget that just a year ago the president publicly sympathized with white supremacists who went on to murder an innocent protestor. Apparently that’s not the case for these CEOs, who took such a strong stance on the incident at the time. Perhaps they need to be reminded.