Is Trump’s Manufacturing Council in Crisis?

Merck CEO resigns over Charlottesville.

Several hundred white nationalists and white supremacists carrying torches marched through the University of Virginia campus on August 11, 2017 before clashing with a small group of counterprotestors. (Image courtesy of Evelyn Hockstein/The Washington Post.)

Several hundred white nationalists and white supremacists carrying torches marched through the University of Virginia campus on August 11, 2017 before clashing with a small group of counterprotestors. (Image courtesy of Evelyn Hockstein/The Washington Post.)

Donald Trump has lost yet another advisor.

“As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.” So wrote Kenneth C. Frazier in his resignation from President Trump’s Manufacturing Council.

Trump responded via his 140-character medium of choice, writing: “Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President’s Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES.”

Frazier is by no means the first CEO to part ways with Trump. The Manufacturing Council started with 28 members when it was announced as part of the White House’s Manufacturing Jobs Initiative at the beginning of this year. Since that time, seven members have stepped down—five because they left their positions as CEOs and two who resigned outright: Frazier and Tesla CEO and suspected Special Circumstances agent, Elon Musk.

Musk also resigned from the President’s 17-member business advisory council, along with Walt Disney CEO Robert Iger—after Trump announced his withdrawal from the Paris climate accord—and Uber CEO and co-founder, Travis Kalanick, who quit in response to Trump’s controversial travel ban.

Here’s the complete list of Manufacturing Council members, including those who have resigned:

  1. Andrew Liveris, The Dow Chemical Company
  2. Bill Brown, Harris Corporation
  3. Michael Dell, Dell Technologies
  4. John Ferriola, Nucor Corporation
  5. Jeff Fettig, Whirlpool Corporation
  6. Mark Fields, Ford Motor Company
  7. Ken Frazier, Merck & Co., Inc.
  8. Alex Gorsky, Johnson & Johnson
  9. Greg Hayes, United Technologies Corp.
  10. Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin Corporation
  11. Jeff Immelt, General Electric
  12. Jim Kamsickas, Dana Inc.
  13. Klaus Kleinfleld, Arconic
  14. Brian Krzanich, Intel Corporation*
  15. Rich Kyle, The Timken Company
  16. Thea Lee, AFL-CIO
  17. Mario Longhi, U.S. Steel
  18. Denise Morrison, Campbell Soup Company
  19. Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing
  20. Elon Musk, Tesla
  21. Doug Oberhelman, Caterpillar
  22. Scott Paul, Alliance for American Manufacturing
  23. Kevin Plank, Under Armour*
  24. Michael Polk, Newell Brands
  25. Mark Sutton, International Paper
  26. Inge Thulin, 3M
  27. Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO
  28. Wendel Weeks, Corning

Although four CEOs cutting ties with Trump may not be enough to invoke the metaphor of rats fleeing a sinking ship, those who remain will likely face increasing pressure from their customers and shareholders if there are further resignations.

Trump campaigned on revitalizing American manufacturing, but if the President becomes sufficiently toxic, from a PR standpoint, then the remaining CEOs may have no choice but to disavow him.

Should others step down from Trump’s Manufacturing Council? Comment below.

UPDATE – Two more CEOs have stepped down from Trump’s Manufacturing Council less than 24 hours after this story was initially posted: Intel CEO Brian Krzanich and Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank.

“I resigned to call attention to the serious harm our divided political climate is causing to critical issues, including the serious need to address the decline of American manufacturing,” wrote Krzanich in an official blog post. “Politics and political agendas have sidelined the important mission of rebuilding America’s manufacturing base.”

“I joined the American Manufacturing Council because I believed it was important for Under Armour to have an active seat at the table and represent our industry,” Plank said in an official tweet. “We remain resolute in our potential and ability to improve American Manufacturing. However, Under Armour engages in innovation and sport, not politics.”

UPDATE – Trump has disbanded his manufacturing and business advisory councils.