Australian Andrew Liveris says disbanding Donald Trump’s Manufacturing Council was the right thing to do following the US president’s heavily criticised response to the deadly white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Mr Trump had appointed Darwin-born Mr Liveris, chairman and chief executive of Michigan-based Dow Chemical Company, to be the head of the White House advisory group, also known as the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative.
Mr Liveris had become a visible presence in the White House, a vocal supporter of the president and as late as Tuesday said he would stay on the council despite the resignations of other key business leaders including the chief executives of Under Armour, Merck and Intel.
Mr Liveris, after discussions with the White House on Wednesday, changed his mind.
“Every member of the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative condemns racism and bigotry, and there cannot be moral ambiguity around the driving forces of the events in Charlottesville,” Mr Liveris said in a statement.
“However, in discussions I had with the White House earlier today, I indicated that in the current environment it was no longer possible to conduct productive discussions under the auspices of the initiative.
“And so, as proud as I am of the efforts we were taking on behalf of the American worker, disbanding the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative was the right decision.”
Another of Mr Trump’s high-powered advisory groups, the Strategy & Policy Forum, also suffered resignations following Mr Trump’s condemned Charlottesville comments, in which he insisted groups protesting against the white nationalists were just as much to blame for the violence.
Mr Trump’s comments on Tuesday appeared to be the tipping point for the CEOs.
With more resignations signalled, Mr Trump announced on Wednesday he would disband the two groups.
“Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both,” Mr Trump wrote in a tweet.
“Thank you all!”
Shortly after Mr Trump’s tweet, the CEOs of two other major companies, Johnson & Johnson and 3M, announced they were resigning from the council.
The president blamed “many sides” for the violence in Charlottesville on Saturday in which a 32-year-old woman was killed and 19 people were injured when a man crashed a car into anti-racist protesters.