Wal-Mart CEO criticizes President Trump’s Charlottesville statement but remains on advisory council

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,360 views 

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon

Several corporate execs and industry and labor reps have resigned from President Donald Trump’s advisory councils following his controversial comments after the Charlottesville, Va., tragedy, but Wal-Mart Stores CEO Doug McMillon says he will stay on the strategy council to ‘stay engaged’ in important decisions.

Following the recent clash in Charlottesville between white supremacists and protesters that left one protester dead and more than 19 injured, Trump blamed both sides for the carnage. His comments drew immediate criticism from those who said the president should single out neo-Nazis and the white supremacists who staged the event. White supremacists and KKK leaders, including David Duke, praised the president’s initial remarks.

Kenneth Frazier, CEO of Merck, was the first to resign from Trump’s manufacturing advisory council. Also resigning were Kevin Plank of Under Armour and Brian Krzanich of Intel. Scott Paul, the president of the American Alliance for Manufacturing, also stepped down, saying “it’s the right thing for me to do.” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Thea Lee, the former deputy chief of staff for Trumka, also stepped down.

“I cannot sit on a council for a President that tolerates bigotry and domestic terrorism. I resign, effective immediately,” Trumka said in his statement.

McMillon said early Tuesday (Aug. 15) he would remain on the strategy council, but was critical of Trump’s initial statements.

“As we watched the events and the response from President Trump over the weekend, we too felt that he missed a critical opportunity to help bring our country together by unequivocally rejecting the appalling actions of white supremacists,” McMillon noted in his prepared statement. “His (Trump’s) remarks today were a step in the right direction and we need that clarity and consistency in the future.”

McMillon also noted, “Representing a company with the largest and one of the most diverse groups of associates in the U.S., and an even more diverse customer base of tens of millions of customers, we believe we should stay engaged to try to influence decisions in a positive way and help bring people together.”

McMillon issued his statement before Trump’s Tuesday afternoon press conference in which the president again blamed both sides with statements that were again praised by leaders of white supremacy groups. Trump suggested the “alt-left” is to blame for some of the violence, and that liberals may not be happy until statues of Presidents Washington and Jefferson, who each owned slaves, are also removed.

Trump, in a somewhat dismissive tone, said McMillon was playing politics.

“The head of Wal-Mart, who I know, he is a very nice guy, was making a political statement,” Trump said during a press conference from Trump Tower in New York City.

Talk Business & Politics has asked Wal-Mart if McMillon is staying with his decision following Trump’s Tuesday afternoon press conference. This story will be updated when and if the company responds.

Following is the full statement from McMillon.
“Respect for the individual is one of our core beliefs at Walmart. And the role we play in communities around the country to build a more diverse and inclusive society is more critical than ever as the tragic events in Charlottesville over the weekend painfully reminded us. Our prayers are with the victims and their families. 

“As we watched the events and the response from President Trump over the weekend, we too felt that he missed a critical opportunity to help bring our country together by unequivocally rejecting the appalling actions of white supremacists. His remarks today were a step in the right direction and we need that clarity and consistency in the future.

“Our country is facing some very difficult issues that require our elected officials, business leaders and community-based organizations to work together. Representing a company with the largest and one of the most diverse groups of associates in the U.S., and an even more diverse customer base of tens of millions of customers, we believe we should stay engaged to try to influence decisions in a positive way and help bring people together. I will continue to strongly advocate on behalf of our associates and customers, and urge our elected officials to do their part to promote a more just, tolerant and diverse society. 

“Thank you for representing Walmart and our values today – and every day.”

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