WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Tuesday ripped three top corporate chief executives who resigned from his manufacturing council in protest of his handling of the Charlottesville, Va., violence, calling them “grandstanders.”
Trump’s missive came shortly before another member of the council, Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing trade group, announced that he was stepping down as well.
Trump said on Twitter that “for every CEO that drops out of the Manufacturing Council, I have many to take their place.”
He then said that “grandstanders should not have gone on” the council, which Trump formed shortly after taking office in January.
Trump described former FBI Director James Comey as “a grandstander” in a May interview with NBC in explaining why he fired him.
Kenneth Frazier, chief executive of Merck & Co., publicly announced Monday that he was stepping down from the council because he felt “a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”
One of the nation’s most prominent black executives, Frazier did not mention Trump by name.
But Trump had been criticized for not explicitly condemning white supremacists after violent clashes with counter-protesters turned deadly in the Virginia college town on Saturday.
Trump lashed out at Frazier on Twitter, criticizing Merck for what he said were its high drug prices.
Although Trump read a statement later on Monday specifically denouncing “the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups,” that didn’t stop the fallout.
Kevin Plank, chief executive of Under Armour Inc., and Brian Krzanich, chief executive of Intel Corp., issued statements Monday night that they were stepping down as well.
Then on Tuesday, Paul said he was joining them.
“I’m resigning from the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative because it’s the right thing for me to do,” he tweeted.
Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, who was a top economic adviser to President Barack Obama, said Tuesday that all the CEOs on the advisory council should resign.
“No advisor committed to the bipartisan American traditions of government can possibly believe he or she is being effective at this point,” Summers wrote in a column in the Washington Post. “And all should feel ashamed for complicity in Mr. Trump’s words and deeds. I sometimes wonder how they face their children.”