'Grandstanders': Trump Lashes Out as CEOs Pressured to Denounce Racism

U.S. President Donald Trump (C) delivers opening remarks during a meeting with (L-R) Wendell Weeks of Corning, Alex Gorsky of Johnson & Johnson, Michael Dell of Dell Technologies and other other business leaders in the Roosevelt Room at the White House January 23, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

'Grandstanders': Trump Lashes Out as CEOs Pressured to Denounce Racism

"One thing CEOs on Trump's advisory council should consider: do you really want to be the last CEO to quit?"

The CEOs of some of America's largest companies are rushing to distance themselves from President Donald Trump following his failure to immediately denounce white supremacist violence--and the president is lashing out.

Business leaders once hailed by Trump as geniuses were ripped as "grandstanders" by the president on Twitter Tuesday for deciding, amid soaring public outrage, to resign from White House advisory teams, including Trump's dwindling manufacturing council.

But the president's insults don't appear to be stemming the tide; in fact, they seem to be amplifying pressure on business leaders to distance themselves from Trump.

"There is no neutral. Either CEO advisors must step off of Trump's committee, or they are complicit in the violence his administration is creating."
Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier made headlines Monday morning following his resignation from Trump's manufacturing council. Possibly inspired by Frazier's decision and amid mounting pressure for other executives to follow his lead, several more executives--Brian Krzanich of Intel, Kevin Plank of Under Armour, Scott Paul of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, and others--announced their resignations late Monday and early Tuesday.

Now many are asking the pointed question: "what will it take" for the others to follow suit?

"They didn't step down after the Muslim ban," reads a petition circulated by the progressive group SumOfUs, which has already garnered over 27,000 signatures. "They didn't step down after Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement. But they must step down now after Trump refused to immediately condemn the terrorism perpetrated by white supremacists this past weekend in Charlottesville."

"There is no neutral," the petition concludes. "Either CEO advisors must step off of Trump's committee, or they are complicit in the violence his administration is creating."

Public Citizen's Rick Claypool has launched a webpage tracking the number of CEOs who have decided to remain "complicit" by sticking by Trump's side and "embracing his pro-polluter, deregulatory, and anti-tax policies while ignoring other elements of his outrageous conduct."

This is a "choice these executives may come to regret," Claypool concludes.

Some activists are calling for campaigns to target specific companies.

Ben Wikler, Washington director of MoveOn.org, is urging Americans to flood Campbell's customer service line until the company's CEO, Denise Morrison, resigns from Trump's manufacturing council.

So far, given the speed with which CEOs are ditching Trump, it appears that "the pressure is working."

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