General Electric chairman Jeff Immelt Wednesday morning joined the exodus of executives quitting the manufacturing council that had been advising President Trump — before Trump issued a declaration over Twitter that he would disband the group and a second panel of business advisers.
Immelt, in a statement, said he found Trump’s statements Tuesday about the weekend incidents in Charlottesville, Va., to be “deeply troubling.” There would be no GE, Immelt said, without employees of all races, religions, genders, and sexual orientations.
Immelt, the chief executive of Boston-based GE until Aug. 1, had initially held out as other members of the manufacturing council quit in the wake of Trump’s early remarks on Charlottesville. He had argued that remaining on the council allowed GE to engage with government on economic policies important to the company and its customers.
“The Committee I joined had the intention to foster policies that promote American manufacturing and growth,” Immelt said Wednesday. “However, given the ongoing tone of the discussion, I no longer feel that this Council can accomplish these goals. Therefore, I notified members of the council this morning that I could no longer serve.”
Other chief executives also quit in the hours after Trump’s remarks Tuesday that argued “both sides” were to blame for the violence in Virginia.
As the defections grew, Trump announced Wednesday afternoon in a tweet that the manufacturing council and a similar business advisory group would be disbanded: “Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!”