Donald Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum, a group made up of business leaders from various industries, has reportedly disbanded. CNBC says the group has agreed to terminate as a whole, which is distinct from what’s occurring with Trump’s manufacturing council, where leaders are leaving one-by-one, including 3M and Campbell’s Soup CEOs who left earlier today.
The Strategic and Policy Forum included one high-profile tech executive: Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM. Rometty previously defended her continued position on Trump’s council as a continuation of IBM’s direct engagement with the U.S. Presidency, which she noted has occurred with every administration since Woodrow Wilson. It also included GM CEO Mary Barra.
Other members of the Strategic and Policy Forum included forum leader Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman, JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon, Wal-Mart’s Doug McMillon and more. The continued fallout among Trump’s business relations are a result of Trump’s attempts to draw some equivalence between sides in last weekend’s white supremacy demonstration in Charlottesville, where protesters opposed the pro-Nazi alt-right event.
Trump went out of his way on Tuesday at a press conference to ascribe blame to “both sides” in the conflict, after which members of his Manufacturing council, also made up of key business execs, began dropping out individually. An unnamed member of the Strategic and Policy Forum told CNBC that the group wanted to disband “as a panel, not as individuals because it would have more significant impact.”
Contrary to the information shared by the council member to CNBC, Trump tweeted on Tuesday that he himself was responsible for ending the Strategic and Policy Forum and the Manufacturing Council. That seems extremely unlikely given the timing of his announcement, and Pod Save America’s Jon Favreau tweeted that it was in fact a false statement on Trump’s part shortly thereafter. New York Times’ reporter Landon Thomas Jr. also claims that 9 of the 12 CEOs had said they would step down if the council was not disbanded first.
Bloomberg and Reuters are also reporting that the council is disbanded. We’ve reached out to GM and IBM for comment and will update if we receive more info.
Update – CNBC received an official group statement from members of the Strategic and Policy Forum. Here’s the statement in full:
As our members have expressed individually over the past several days, intolerance, racism and violence have absolutely no place in this country and are an affront to core American values. The President’s Strategic and Policy Forum was conceived as a bi-partisan group of business leaders called to serve our country by providing independent feedback and perspectives directly to the President on accelerating economic growth and job creation in the United States. We believe the debate over Forum participation has become a distraction from our well-intentioned and sincere desire to aid vital policy discussions on how to improve the lives of everyday Americans. As such, the President and we are disbanding the Forum. Job creation and supporting an inclusive pro-growth agenda remain vitally important to the progress of our country. As Americans, we are all united in our desire to see our country succeed.