Trump hits back at business leaders

BBC | Published: August 16, 2017 07:36:28 | Updated: October 24, 2017 13:36:59

US President Donald Trump is under fire for being late to condemn white supremacists and neo-Nazis involved in a violent rally.

US President Donald Trump hit back at business leaders on Tuesday as executives tried to distance themselves from the administration.

Mr Trump is under fire for being late to condemn white supremacists and neo-Nazis involved in a violent rally.

But Mr Trump said: "They're leaving out of embarrassment, because they make their products outside."

Shortly after Mr Trump's comments, a fifth group stepped down from a White House business panel.

Those who have quit the manufacturing council in recent days include Kenneth Frazier of Merck, Kevin Plank of Under Armour, Brian Krzanich of Intel, and Scott Paul, the president of business group the Alliance for American Manufacturing.

On Tuesday evening, after a combative news conference in which Mr Trump defended his original statement that violence came from "many sides", Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO labour group, also said he and Thea Lee, another leader of the organisation, would no longer participate.

"It's clear that President Trump's manufacturing council was never an effective means for delivering real policy that lifts working families and his remarks today were the last straw," he said.

As calls mount for corporations to respond, other firms participating on White House panels have issued statements condemning the violence.

Walmart, which typically avoids political controversy, shared a statement from its chief executive that said Mr Trump "missed a critical opportunity to help bring our country together by unequivocally rejecting the appalling actions of white supremacists".

However, Walmart boss Doug McMillon did not say he would step down from the panel.

Shannon Coulter, who co-founded the #grabyourwallet boycott against companies that do business with Mr Trump, said recent events have added momentum to the campaign.

"Charlottesville has definitely escalated the issue of associating oneself with the Trumps," she told the BBC. "I think it's increasingly clear to CEOs on his councils that the Trump name and identity is toxic and that for the sake of their brands they need to get away from it as quickly as possible."

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