WASHINGTON — The CEOs abandoning President Trump's manufacturing advisory council over his response to racially motivated violence in Charlottesville, Va., are leaving "because they're not taking their jobs seriously as it pertains to this country," Trump said Tuesday.
"They’re leaving out of embarrassment because they’re making their products outside, and I've been lecturing them," Trump said, once again singling out Merck CEO Ken Frazier. "I want manufacturing brought back to this country so that American workers can benefit."
The resignations began after Trump did not directly denounce neo-Nazi groups in his response to the Charlottesville clashes on Saturday. Instead, Trump blamed violence on "many sides," which some business leaders saw as inadequate especially after a man plowed through a crowd of protesters, killing one and injuring 19 others.
But after directly condemning white supremacists and other hate groups on Monday, Trump returned to blaming counterprotesters on Tuesday, saying some of them were "troublemakers" and "bad people."
After his press conference, another member of his council – Richard Trumka, president of the The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations – announced he would step down.
"I cannot sit on a council for a President that tolerates bigotry and domestic terrorism; I resign, effective immediately," tweeted Trumka, becoming the fifth member of the council to resign over Trump's response to Charlottesville.
Trump's comments to reporters at Trump Tower in New York followed a Tuesday morning tweet in which he blasted the executives as "grandstanders."
"For every CEO that drops out of the Manufacturing Council, I have many to take their place. Grandstanders should not have gone on," Trump tweeted on Tuesday, in response to the resignations of CEOs from Merck, Under Armour, and Intel on Monday.
Trump concluded the tweet with an exclamation: "JOBS!"
For every CEO that drops out of the Manufacturing Council, I have many to take their place. Grandstanders should not have gone on. JOBS!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 15, 2017
Just as he did so, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing Scott Paul announced over Twitter he would step down.
"I'm resigning from the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative because it's the right thing for me to do," Paul tweeted.
I'm resigning from the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative because it's the right thing for me to do.— Scott Paul (@ScottPaulAAM) August 15, 2017
The manufacturing council began in the December, when Trump was president-elect, but formalized in January. It's chaired by Andrew Liveris, CEO of Dow Chemical, and includes top executives from Ford, Boeing, Dell, Whirlpool, General Electric and others.
Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, had resigned from the council in June to protest Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.
After meeting with Trump in February, it's unclear what the manufacturing council has been doing. The council has no formal authority, and appears to conduct its business outside of the laws and regulations that govern federal advisory committees.