Barra’s role on Trump forum ends as group disbands
A group of business leaders and President Trump announced the disbandment of the president’s Strategic and Policy Forum, which originally included GM CEO Mary Barra and more than a dozen other CEOs from several industries.
Automotive News | August 16, 2017 – 2:58 pm EST
DETROIT — General Motors CEO Mary Barra no longer will advise President Donald Trump on American economic issues and job growth.
A group of business leaders on Wednesday and Trump announced the disbandment of the Strategic and Policy Forum, which originally included Barra and more than a dozen other CEOs from several industries.
In a statement, the group said it was breaking up amid the controversy as the president faced blowback for his responses to an alt-right rally that turned violent, according to Bloomberg. “The debate over forum participation has become a distraction from our well-intentioned and sincere desire to aid vital policy discussions on how to improve the lives of everyday Americans.”
“General Motors is about unity and inclusion and so am I,” Barra said in a statement. “Recent events, particularly those in Charlottesville, Va., and its aftermath, require that we come together as a country and reinforce values and ideas that unite us — tolerance, inclusion and diversity — and speak against those who divide us — racism, bigotry and any politics based on ethnicity.”
The breaking up of the group comes amid a turbulent week for Trump, who twice cast blame on counterprotesters for a “Unite the Right” rally Saturday by white nationalists turning deadly in Charlottesville. A woman was killed during the event after a man rammed a Dodge Challenger into a crowd.
In a tweet following reports of the group disbanding, Trump said it was his decision to end the economic forum as well as the Manufacturing Council. Several members stepped down as a result of his responses to the alt-right rally.
“Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both,” Trump tweeted. “Thank you all!”
His remarks were a reversal from a day earlier, when he pledged that he had “many” CEOs willing to take the places of those who quit his manufacturing group. He called those who left “grandstanders.”
Other executives of the economic forum included Daniel Yergin, vice chairman of IHS Markit; Jim McNerney, former chairman, president and CEO, Boeing; Bob Iger, chairman and CEO, Walt Disney Co.; and Doug McMillon, president and CEO, Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Former Uber Technologies Inc. CEO Travis Kalanick and Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk were previously part of the economic council, however, both stepped down earlier this year following differences with Trump.
Kalanick resigned in February following mounting pressure from activists who opposed Trump’s immigration policies.
Musk, who also served as a member of the manufacturing committee, stepped down from both following Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord in June.
GM has defended Barra’s continued involvement with the group as “a seat at an important table” as the Trump administration dealt with issues such as tax reform and job growth.