Trump criticizes CEOs as 'grandstanders' after Plank, others depart jobs panel

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On Tuesday, Trump called CEO defectors "grandstanders" and tweeted that he had "many to take their place". It wouldn't be surprising if more follow suit and if the Trump administration continues on its path, no one may be left on its advisory council.

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, left the council earlier this year after Trump announced the US would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.

Plank on Monday night resigned from Trump's advisory jobs panel after the president was widely criticized for not quickly denouncing racist groups.

"Our country's strength stems from its diversity and the contributions made by men and women of different faiths, races, sexual orientation s and political beliefs", said Merck's CEO in a statement.

The New York Times earlier reported the Strategic & Policy forum was in disarray. Trump showed a fondness for loudly calling out companies on Twitter, but most absorbed the punches and promised to hire more people in the USA while touting plans to build more factories and other facilities.

Again, a classy and principled statement that left Trump's name out of it.

Trump had previously celebrated the support of the CEO, one of the few African-American chief executives of a Fortune 500 company, in his manufacturing initiative.

The parade of departing leaders from the informal panel now includes the chief executives for Merck, Under Armour and Intel and the president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing.

He then specifically addressed the events in Charlottesville, which led to three deaths, including that of Heather Heyer, who among a group of people counter-protesting neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members and white supremacists gathered to protest the removal of a statute of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. (James Willie "Bo" Cochran's conviction was ultimately overturned). "Though I think he pulled himself off, I think he said 'look I gotta be true to myself, I gotta be true to the company, gotta be true to my customers'". He is always smart, always ethical and repeatedly makes the right decisions. Other CEOs expressed disappointment in the president's decision but did not resign. "We must resign on behalf of America's working people, who reject all notions of legitimacy of these bigoted groups".

Recall that big business money was funding Hillary Clinton's campaign, not Trump.

While it saw some early successes, with companies like Ford and Foxconn announcing the construction of large new factories in the USA, as Trump's leadership erodes, this agenda could be put under pressure. The company eventually settled thousands of cases for $4.85 billion, a fraction of what analysts estimated the company might face if it stuck to its plan to fight every lawsuit.

Merck's Ken Frazier gave his thoughts in a statement as well.

"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 later tweeted he was ending both groups. Trump has repeatedly promised to bring down drug prices and has used harsh language to describe the industry, but has not taken any strong actions. Frazier said he was acting on a "matter of personal conscience". Who put his ego and desire for access to power aside (Why yes, I just was telling the president ...) in favor of a civic-minded statement that recognized business leaders have a role to play as well during this critical, tumultuous time in our history? "That wouldn't have inhibited him". "If he knew that [Trump's tweet] was coming and that was the response, he would have done it anyway".

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