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Under Armour CEO quits Trump's manufacturing council

22 August 2017

The quick sequence began late Wednesday morning when Stephen A. Schwarzman, chief executive of the Blackstone Group and one of Trump's closest confidants in the business community, organized a conference call for members of the president's Strategic and Policy Forum.

The New York Times reported the business leaders serving on the manufacturing council, as well as the Strategy and Policy Forum - an economic advisory group - were planning to hold a call today to discuss disbanding the group.

Prior to the widespread backlash against Trump's Charlottesville comments, the council was convened without the requisite public disclosures established by the Advisory Committee Act, according to a lawsuit filed by Food and Water Watch, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the safety of food and water supplies.

Austan Goolsbee, the former chief economist for President Barack Obama, said the departures suggest the president's response to the violence in Charlottesville could alienate those who work for the companies, and those who buy the products and services that they sell.

"I would urge that the forum disband itself and if it doesn't disband, I'm stepping down", he said, according to one source.

First to quit was the leader of a major U.S. pharmaceutical, then the CEO of an athletic gear company, and before the day had ended, the chief executive of a $170 billion tech giant.

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Those CEOs are now abandoning him in a humiliating snub for a president who took great pleasure in summoning corporate titans to the White House and trying to get them to bend to his will. 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.

"That's something that's always in play, and as a result some companies choose to abstain from getting involved in political roles", he said.

"There was also a real chill on the panel when [Trump] was critical of Doug McMillon at Wal-Mart", said one source.

Before the president's decision to dissolve the two councils, executives from his manufacturing council were expected to have a similar call Wednesday afternoon.

Immelt and John Flannery, who took over as CEO on August 1, received "valuable input" from leaders inside and outside the company, including representatives of GE's affinity groups, according to a note Flannery sent Wednesday to employees.

Following Trump's comments Tuesday, General Electric Co.'s leadership decided the company wouldn't be associated with the council any longer, despite Chairman Jeffrey Immelt saying a day earlier that he would remain.

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Inge Thulin, president of 3M, and Denise Morrison, president of canned soup maker Campbell, were the seventh and eighth executives to leave the manufacturing council following Trump's Charlottesville remarks.

"They are a public-facing company that talks openly about diversity".

Trump's Manufacturing Council was formed in January 2017, with its goals including advising the president on how best to create new jobs in the US.

Truscott said it's not a surprise the CEOs headed for the exits and won't be eager to return to any future Trump councils.

The strategy and policy forum said the controversy over Trump's remarks about the Virginia violence led to the decision. "They have to distance themselves from that".

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Under Armour CEO quits Trump's manufacturing council