When Trump Wavered on Charlottesville Violence, His Business Panel Wavered on Him

Everybody has a breaking point, and for big business, Charlottesville might have been that moment. Corporate executives have been eagerly anticipating the day President Donald Trump and a GOP-controlled Congress would push through pro-business tax cuts. But after Trump's stunning failure to immediately and explicitly denounce the role of white supremacists in the violence in Virginia last weekend, several members of his business advisory panel called his leadership into question and started voting with their feet. Who would have imagined that a tepid presidential response to a clash sparked by opposition to the removal of statues of Confederate war heroes would be the pivot point for at least four CEOs to step away from what should be valued seats on a panel tasked with shaping the president's business policies? But if the president can't come down hard on white supremacy, which amounts to a political layup, what's the point of advising him on anything else?Clearly, these leaders worry that their presence on the panel would send the wrong message to employees and customers about discrimination, abuse and a hostile work environment. Kenneth Frazier, the chief executive of drugmaker Merck, was the first to bolt Trump's advisory American Manufacturing Council, soon to be followed by Kevin Plank, the founder and chief executive of athletic apparel maker Under Armour; Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel; and Scott Paul, the president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing. In a tweet, Trump labeled the departing executives as replaceable "grandstanders." No, Mr. Trump, these aren't grandstanders. These are business executives who want leadership and results, and they aren't receiving either from the White House. Frazier, who is African-American, expressed dismay at president's lack of moral leadership in the Charlotteville crisis, citing "a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism." How did Trump respond? With a childish tweet accusing Frazier of price gouging.   Continue reading...

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