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Trump Disbands 2 Business Advisory Councils After String Of Resignations

Faced with a string of resignations from his advisory panels, President Trump has disbanded two groups he had formed to provide policy and economic guidance. He's seen here after a news conference Tuesday.

Updated at 2:55 p.m. ET

After a string of executives quit President Trump's manufacturing council over his controversial remarks about Charlottesville, Va., violence, the president declared he is disbanding two economic advisory panels that included the heads of some of America's largest companies.

Trump said in a tweet that he is ending the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative and the Strategic and Policy Forum "rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople" that made up those groups.

"Thank you all!" the president added.

The move came shortly after two executives — 3M's Inge Thulin and Campbell Soup's Denise Morrison — said Wednesday that they would be leaving the manufacturing panel established by Trump, who has long touted the need to support American manufacturing jobs.

"Racism and murder are unequivocally reprehensible and are not morally equivalent to anything else that happened in Charlottesville," Campbell Soup CEO Morrison said, referring to Trump's much criticized response to the white supremacist rally in which a counterprotester was killed.

3M President and CEO Thulin said his decision to leave followed reflection on the values of "sustainability, diversity and inclusion."

They were among eight executives who quit Trump's manufacturing council this week.

Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier, who is African-American, was the first to announce his departure after Charlottesville, saying Monday that "I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism."

Later that day, Under Armour's Kevin Plank and Intel's Brian Krzanich said they too would be leaving.

Tuesday saw the departures of Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing; Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO; and Thea Lee, the AFL-CIO's deputy chief of staff.

"I'm resigning from the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative because it's the right thing for me to do," Paul wrote in a tweet Tuesday morning.

Over the summer, Tesla founder Elon Musk left both the manufacturing council and the Strategic and Policy Forum, announcing that he disagreed with Trump's decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord. Disney CEO Bob Iger also resigned over Trump's climate policy.

Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick quit the forum in February, citing Trump's executive order on immigration.

Trump's decision to wind down the two groups came despite his defiant tone about the recent resignations earlier this week, as criticism swirled around his comment that "many sides" were at fault in Charlottesville.

On Monday, Trump said, "Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President's Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!"

On Tuesday, Trump stated, "For every CEO that drops out of the Manufacturing Council, I have many to take their place. Grandstanders should not have gone on. JOBS!"

When the council was formed back in January, the White House said the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative would allow the president to meet with "some of the world's most successful and creative business leaders to share their experiences and gain their insights."

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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