Trump issues “You can’t quit, you’re fired” tweet after CEOs decide to break up groups
Developments on Day 209 of the Trump Administration:
CEOs Leave Councils in Protest Over Trump’s White Supremacy Remarks
Donald Trump’s councils for manufacturing and for business and finance collapse after executives quit and agree to dissolve the advisory bodies.
As a series of members left the American Manufacturing Council, executives on the business and finance group, the Strategy and Policy Forum, decided in a Wednesday afternoon conference call to disband.
The executives agreed to notify the White House — reportedly Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner — before going public with their decision. Minutes later, Trump preempted them on Twitter with a “You can’t quit; you’re fired” message for both bodies:
Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 16, 2017
The defection of the executives began on Monday over Trump’s refusal in weekend remarks to denounce white supremacists for the violence at their rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia. Kenneth Frazier of Merck Pharma was the first to depart the American Manufacturing Council, prompting Trump to denounce him and Merck in a pair of tweets.
Despite Trump’s half-hearted reading of a script on Monday identifying the white supremacists and declaring, “Racism is evil”, two other CEOs — of Intel and Under Armor — left the AMC.
Then after Trump returned on Tuesday to his initial line, effectively absolving white supremacists while targeting the “alt-left” in his criticism of “many sides”, more representatives on the AMC announced their departures. Nine had quit by Wednesday afternoon.
Members of the Strategy and Policy Forum, rather than carrying out individual resignations, decided to act as a group. Those involved in the conference call included Indra Nooyi of Pepsi, Mary Barra of General Motors, Virginia Rometty of IBM, Mark Weinberger of Ernst & Young, Lawrence Fink of the asset manager BlackRock, Douglas McMillon of Walmart, Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan, and Rich Lesser of Boston Consulting Group.
Two members — Jim McNerney, the former CEO of Boeing, and Jack Welch, the former head of General Electric — proposed a statement criticizing Trump but keeping the group alive; however, the others concluded that dissolution was necessary.
The advisory groups had barely met since Trump’s inauguration; however, they have been an important symbol for the administration of support for economic policies and announcements, especially given Trump’s promotion of himself as the ultimate deal-maker for America.
Veteran Affairs Head Breaks with Trump Over White Supremacy
In contrast to Donald Trump’s position, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin condemns white supremacists, saying their ideology and behavior is an “affront to American ideals”:
It is a dishonor to our country’s veterans to allow the Nazis and the white supremacists to go unchallenged. And I am strongly against them, and I believe that we have to all speak up as Americans.
Speaking at Trump’s golf club in New Jersey, Shulkin continued: “I’m speaking out, and I’m giving my personal opinions as an American and as a Jewish American. And for me in particular, I think in learning history, that we know that staying silent on these issues is simply not acceptable.”
He paraphrased Martin Niemöller, the German pastor who opposed Adolf Hitler:
First, they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I wasn’t a trade unionist, so I didn’t speak out. Then they came for the Jews. I wasn’t a Jew so I didn’t speak out. Then they came for me, and there was no one to speak for me.
The chiefs of the Army, the Air Force, the Navy, the Marines, and the National Guard Bureau have broken protocol with interventions challenging Trump’s statements by denouncing racism and neo-Nazis and proclaiming the services’ embrace of diversity.
Facebook, Twitter, Apple Pay, PayPal Restrict White Supremacist Outlets
Leading social media and technology outlets are trying to restrict white supremacist groups after last weekend’s events in Charlottesville.
Twitter has suspended accounts such as The Daily Stormer, the virulent neo-Nazi site, with the statement: “The Twitter Rules prohibit violent threats, harassment, hateful conduct, and multiple account abuse, and we will take action on accounts violating those policies.”
Facebook said it has been deleting links to the Daily Stormer’s site, which was knocked off-line on Tuesday when GoDaddy withdrew its hosting.
Apple Pay and PayPal have been disabling support for websites selling “White Pride” and Nazi items such as sweaters, T-shirts, and bumper stickers.
Bannon Declares Economic War with China, Criticizes Some “White Nationalists”
In an interview, White House chief strategist Steve Bannon promises aggressive trade actions against Beijing:
We’re at economic war with China. One of us is going to be a hegemon in 25 or 30 years, and it’s gonna be them if we go down this path. On Korea, they’re just tapping us along. It’s just a sideshow.
Bannon said the US needs to be “maniacally focused” on the confrontation: “If we continue to lose it, we’re five years away, I think, 10 years at the most, of hitting an inflection point from which we’ll never be able to recover.”
In the conversation that he requested with The American Prospect after its article on China and North Korea, Bannon — who reportedly has opposed Donald Trump’s aggressive rhetoric invoking a possible war with Pyongyan, favoring the focus on Beijing — said the escalation of tensions with North Korea was “just a sideshow” and there is “no military solution”.
Bannon, who has promoted “white nationalism” as editor of Breitbart and in the Trump campaign and administration, turned against other white nationalists as “losers” and a “fringe element”: “These guys are a collection of clowns.”
But the most provocative political comments were about his colleagues within the White House, amid rumors that factions — including new Chief of Staff John Kelly — may be trying to push out Bannon.
The Chief of Staff described opposition to his hardline agenda for trade protectionism: “That’s a fight I fight every day here. We’re still fighting. There’s Treasury and [National Economic Council Director] Gary Cohn and Goldman Sachs lobbying.”
He said those urging restraint on protectionism. of “wetting themselves”.
Bannon also explained that he is reshaping the bureaucracy for foreign policy, even saying that he is trying to remove the Acting Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs and “getting hawks in”.
Bannon’s attempt to put himself and allies on the National Security Council was rebuffed this spring by National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, who has forced Bannon off the NSC’s Principals Committee and removed the chief strategist’s allies — including Deputy National Security Advisor K.T. McFarland — from their posts.