Intel CEO Brian Krzanich was one of the first executives to leave President Donald Trump’s manufacturing council after the commander-in-chief failed to immediately condemn white supremacists during the violence in Charlottesville.
So why did Krzanich do it, despite the potential benefits of having the President’s ear?
According to the CEO during the New York Times DealBook conference Thursday, Trump’s penchant toward attacking individuals via Twitter played a major role.
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“It’s never any one thing. It’s kind of the build up,” said Krzanich. “What triggered it for me was when [Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier] left the council… And when I saw him leave, it became very politicized.”
Specifically, Krzanich pointed to how Trump lashed out at Frazier after the Merck CEO announced his departure from the President’s Manufacturing Council.
“Rather than allowing him to have his own personal choice,” Krzanich said, Trump criticized Frazier on Twitter.
“And I said that’s not what i want to be a part of,” he continued. “And I’m not going to take part in something that is going to allow somebody like that to get bullied.”
Frazier was the first CEO to leave Trump’s business council, saying that American leaders had failed to clearly reject “expressions of hatred, bigotry, and group supremacy.”
That came after Trump maintained that “both sides” were responsible for the August violence in Charlottesville that culminated when a counter-protester at a white supremacist rally was fatally run over by a car in mid-August.
Krzanich was among the few CEOs who resigned from one of Trump’s two business advisory bodies — the Manufacturing Council and the Strategy and Policy Forum — immediately following Trump’s reaction to Charlottesville. Both groups were eventually disbanded when more and more executives began to leave.
“I resigned because I want to make progress, while many in Washington seem more concerned with attacking anyone who disagrees with them,” Krzanich wrote in a statement at the time.
But not only were CEOs on the council facing potential criticism from Trump for leaving — they were also facing anger from shareholders and the general public for staying.
“There were shareholders that were unhappy with [CEOs’] affiliation,” said Blackstone CEO Steven Schwarzman in September about the decision to disband the two bodies. “It was too much for CEOs of public companies to have so many constituents attacking you.”