3 CEOs quit White House committee

US President Donald Trump says CEOs are leaving his manufacturing council 'out of embarrassment' for making products outside of the US.
Demonstrators stationing themselves outside Trump Tower in New York on Monday ahead of President Donald Trump's arrival for his first overnight stay in the city since taking office.
Demonstrators stationing themselves outside Trump Tower in New York on Monday ahead of President Donald Trump's arrival for his first overnight stay in the city since taking office.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Business chiefs leave advisory body over Trump's silence on white supremacists

CHARLOTTESVILLE/NEW YORK • The fallout from US President Donald Trump's refusal to call out white supremacists after last Saturday's violence at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, has continued, with America's first CEO president losing three CEOs from a White House advisory committee.

First, Merck's Mr Kenneth Frazier, then Under Armour's Mr Kevin Plank and Intel's Mr Brian Krzanich stepped down from the American Manufacturing Council.

Mr Frazier, one of the country's most prominent black chief executive officers, quit as Mr Trump was being assailed for failing to condemn white supremacists for Saturday's deadly violence.

Mr Frazier said he acted on a "matter of personal conscience... America's leaders must honour 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".

Mr Plank and Mr Krzanich, who are white, referred to the charged atmosphere, with Mr Plank saying that his athletic-wear company "engages in innovation and sports, not politics", and Mr Krzanich, who leads the world's largest semiconductor maker, citing a "divided political climate" and declaring: "The current environment must change, or else our nation will become a shadow of what it once was and what it still can and should be."

It took Mr Trump far less time than it took to react to the violence in Charlottesville to tweet criticism of Mr Frazier: "Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President's Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!"

At the other end of the controversy's spectrum, online fund-raising sites are banning activists looking to offer financial support for James Fields, the man accused of driving his car into counter-protesters in Charlottesville on Saturday. He is accused of killing one woman and injuring 19 others.

FEAR FOR COUNTRY

I am terrified of what country we've become, the fact that white supremacists, Nazis, anti-Semites feel empowered by our President. He's destroying everything that our forefathers worked for.

MS LYNN GRAY, 68, who left banking to found her own company.

UPHOLDING AMERICAN IDEALS

America's leaders must honour 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.

MR KENNETH FRAIZER, chief executive of Merck.

GoFundMe, Kickstarter and other mainstream crowdfunding firms said they have policies that prohibit hate speech or abuse. "Those campaigns did not raise any money and they were immediately removed," said Mr Bobby Whithorne, GoFundMe's director of strategic communications.

The block on crowdfunding is the latest blow to far-right activists. The neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer had its domain registration revoked twice by GoDaddy and Alphabet's Google for violating terms of service. And Texas A&M University on Monday cancelled a white supremacist rally planned for next month, citing safety concerns. "Linking the tragedy of Charlottesville with the Texas A&M event creates a major security risk on our campus," it said.

In North Carolina, demonstrators toppled a statue of a Confederate soldier on Monday, two days after the violence erupted in nearby Charlottesville over white nationalists' opposition to the planned removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from a park. The monument in Durham, North Carolina, was pulled down as protesters cheered, spat on and kicked it.

Several hundred protesters also demonstrated outside Trump Tower in New York on Monday, before the President's first visit to his Manhattan residence since taking office more than six months ago. He is spending several days there before returning to his golf club in New Jersey to finish a vacation.

But in the predominantly Democratic-voting US financial capital, Mr Trump is hugely unpopular.

"I am terrified of what country we've become, the fact that white supremacists, Nazis, anti-Semites feel empowered by our President," said 68-year-old Ms Lynn Gray, who left banking to found her own company.

"He's destroying everything that our forefathers worked for."

"No Trump, no KKK, no Fascist USA!" the protest group chanted. "Love, not hate. That's what makes America great!"

But Mr Trump arrived after dark and avoided protesters gathered in a different street from his motorcade's route.

NYTIMES, BLOOMBERG, REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

SEE OPINION: America is now a dangerous nation

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 16, 2017, with the headline '3 CEOs quit White House committee'. Print Edition | Subscribe