Intel, Under Armour and Merck CEOs Step Down From Trump’s Manufacturing Advisory Council

After the president's response to white-nationalist rally

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank and Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier all left the group within 24 hours.
Sources: Getty Images

The CEOs of Under Armour, Intel and Merck stepped down from President Donald Trump’s American Manufacturing Council one by one today, leaving people to wonder how many more might ditch the group this week. Their decisions followed sharp criticism of the president’s failure to denounce white supremacists for a deadly rally in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend.


On Tuesday morning, Scott Paul, president of the non-profit The Alliance for American Manufacturing, announced that he would also depart the council.


On Tuesday evening, two more members of the council, president of the union group AFL-CIO Richard Trumka and AFL-CIO deputy chief of staff Thea Lee, declared that they would also no longer serve on the council. 

In a joint statement, they said: “President Trump’s remarks today repudiate his forced remarks yesterday about the KKK and neo-Nazis. We must resign on behalf of America’s working people, who reject all notions of legitimacy of these bigoted groups.”


On Wednesday, 3M CEO Inge Thulin said he would leave the council.

“Sustainability, diversity and inclusion are my personal values and also fundamental to the 3M vision,” said Thulin in a statement. “I joined the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative in January to advocate for policies that align with our values and encourage even stronger investment and job growth—in order to make the United States stronger, healthier and more prosperous for all people. After careful consideration, I believe the initiative is no longer an effective vehicle for 3M to advance these goals.”

“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,” said the athletic company’s CEO, Kevin Plank, in a statement. “We remain resolute in our potential and ability to improve American manufacturing. However, Under Armour engages in innovation and sports, not politics.”

While Plank referenced politics and noted he will work to “promote unity, diversity and inclusion,” he did not directly reference the events in Virginia.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich was more pointed as he explained his resignation from the council in a blog post tonight.

“I have already made clear my abhorrence at the recent hate-spawned violence in Charlottesville, and earlier today I called on all leaders to condemn the white supremacists and their ilk who marched and committed violence,” wrote Krzanich. “I resigned because I want to make progress, while many in Washington seem more concerned with attacking anyone who disagrees with them. We should honor—not attack—those who have stood up for equality and other cherished American values. I hope this will change, and I remain willing to serve when it does.”

He also said his decision was spurred by the desire to bolster manufacturing in the U.S., and that politics is hampering economic progress. “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. Politics and political agendas have sidelined the important mission of rebuilding America’s manufacturing base,” he added.

Merck chief Kenneth Frazier was the first to leave the council, announcing this morning that “America’s leaders must honor our fundamental views by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal.

“As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism,” Frazier added.

Instead of condemning the actions of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Trump initially said “many sides” were at fault for the violence before finally denouncing neo-Nazi’s and the Klu Klux Klan on Monday.

Shortly after Frazier’s statement, Trump criticized the CEO on Twitter for his departure.

According to CNBC’s reporting, two other companies on the council (GE and Dow Chemical) are speaking out about the racist rally.

“GE has no tolerance for hate, bigotry or racism, and we strongly condemn the violent extremism in Charlottesville over the weekend,” the company told CNBC. “With more than 100,000 employees in the United States, it is important for GE to participate in the discussion on how to drive growth and productivity in the U.S.; therefore, Jeff Immelt will remain on the Presidential Committee on American Manufacturing while he is the chairman of GE.”

Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris told CNBC that “in Dow there is no room for hatred, racism or bigotry. Dow will continue to work to strengthen the social and economic fabric of the communities where it operates—including supporting policies that help create employment opportunities in manufacturing and rebuild the American workforce.”

Recommended articles