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President Trump's Strategy Council of CEOs Just Disbanded

From TIME - August 16, 2017

Only a day after Donald Trump labeled the growing number of CEOs quitting his business council grandstanders who, in some cases, were hurting ordinary Americans, the president tweeted that he would abolish the advisory groups rather than put pressure on executives to stay.

Thank you all! Trump tweeted Wednesday afternoon.

His announcement came within an hour of reports that one of the groups -- a forum of top finance and business executives -- was planning to disband. It appeared to be an effort by Trump to get ahead of the business leaders who were abandoning him a day after he equated neo-Nazis to counter-protesters at a New York City press conference.

Its a stunning rebuke for the first CEO president, who pitched himself as a savvy businessman who would slash taxes and regulations to unleash growth by U.S. companies. Markets largely ignored the move, however, and the Standard & Poors 500 Index was up less than 1 percent as of 3:24 p.m.

At a press conference Tuesday, Trump said he would replace those who quit his council of manufacturing executives. He bid good riddance to one CEO -- Merck & Co.s Kenneth Frazier -- who was first to resign. He then went on to talk about race relations and the violence in Virginia, placing partial blame on demonstrators protesting a gathering of white supremacists in Charlottesville. A woman was killed during the event after a man rammed a car into a crowd.

The evening after Trumps comments, members of the strategy and policy forum -- led by Blackstone Group LPs Stephen Schwarzman -- began to waver. BlackRock Inc. CEO Larry Fink called some of his firms clients and said he planned to resign from the forum, according to a person familiar with the matter. The next morning, he told Schwarzman he was out.

Breakup

On a conference call late Wednesday morning with members of the strategy forum, the group was polled to ask who would stay. Of the dozen executives on the call, 10 voted to leave, according to another person familiar with the event. The group planned to tell the White House about their decision before making it public, according to a third person.

In a memo sent to BlackRock employees and provided to Bloomberg Wednesday, Fink said that the violence, racism and antisemitism in Virginia had to be criticized without caveats.

While I have disagreed with the president in certain instances this year, I continued to participate in the forum because I believed it was important to have a voice at the table for investors, including our clients, Fink wrote. Unfortunately, after the last few days, I concluded that I could no longer in good conscience participate in the forum.

The events that occurred in Charlottesville, as I said on Monday, are nothing short of domestic terrorism. Such racism and bigotry must not just be condemned, but must be condemned unequivocally, he said.

Business Advisers

The strategy group is one of several the White House convened earlier this year to advise the president, though it and the manufacturing panel havent met recently.

Manufacturing Council

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