Trump Disbands Advisory Panels as More Quit

17.08.2017 -

US President Donald Trump disbanded his US Manufacturing Council on Aug. 16, a day after the exodus of US Merck’s CEO Kenneth Frazier in protest over remarks made by the president in response to a white supremacist rally that turned violent.

Trump made his announcement on Twitter as one business leader after another decided to follow Frazier’s lead. He also announced he was dismantling another business panel, the Strategy & Policy Forum headed by Stephen Schwarzman, head of private equity giant Blackstone. Membership in this panel, too, was beginning to crumble.

“Rather than putting pressure on the business people of the Manufacturing Council and the Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!” Trump tweeted – hours after tweeting that he had “plenty of CEOs” who wanted to join the panel and accusing those who resigned of “grandstanding.”

Following Frazier’s withdrawal, the president had tweeted that the pharma executive would now have more time to “lower rip-off drug prices.” As one of the last to leave, Johnson & Johnson’s chief Alex Gorky – who had previously said he would remain in order to “have a voice at the table” – criticized Trump’s remarks about “both sides” being to blame for events in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a peaceful counter-demonstrator was struck and killed by a car.

In quitting, Johnson said the president’s “recent statements,” which he called “unsustainable,” had led him to change his mind about staying. Gorky’s resignation would have left Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris as the sole representative of the chemical-pharmaceutical industry on the manufacturing council. Reports said the advisory panel has held only one meeting, in February, after it was established in late January.