Critics call on Michael Dell to leave Trump advisory council

Liberal groups pressure Dell Technologies leader to join three other CEOs in quitting Trump advisory panels to protest reaction to Charlottesville events.

Posted August 15th, 2017

Pressure is mounting on Dell Technologies founder and CEO Michael Dell to resign from a manufacturing council that advises President Donald Trump.

Over the past two days, four chief executives have resigned Trump advisory panels in protest over his response to violence during a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday. 

Dell, who founded Round Rock-based Dell Technologies in 1984, remains on the president’s manufacturing council. Dell Technologies released a statement saying there is “no change in Dell engaging with the Trump administration and governments around the world to share our perspective on policy issues that affect our company, customers and employees.”

Dell is facing criticism from liberal groups like Progress Texas for remaining on the council. Progress Texas released a statement on Tuesday calling for Dell to resign and “unequivocally denounce any expression of bigotry, hatred and white supremacy.” 

Dell is not alone in remaining on the president’s manufacturing council. A number of CEOs of major companies -- including General Electric, Dow, Whirlpool and International Paper -- are still on the panel, which had 28 members initially but it has shrunk since it was formed earlier this year as executives retire, are replaced or resign.

On social media, criticism mounted as well, with hashtags like #QuitTheCouncil used to lob criticism at Dell and other CEOs who remain on the council.

Many in the busines community have been critical of Trump’s initial response to the white supremacist rally.

Trump’s initial comments to reporters during a short statement from his private golf club in New Jersey were: "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides. It has been going on for a long time in our country -- not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. It has been going on for a long, long time. It has no place in America."

The president did not mention white nationalists and the alt-right movement in his initial remarks, and later called for a "study" of the "situation."

Two days later, Trump denounced the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis by name, saying that racist hate groups are “repugnant to all that we hold dear as Americans.”

“Anyone who acted criminally in this weekend's racist violence, you will be held fully accountable,” Trump said in remarks to reporters at the White House. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms the egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence. It has no place in America.”

However, for some CEOs advising Trump, it was too little, too late.

Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier was the first to resign on Monday morning, issuing a statement that said America’s leaders should clearly reject “expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy.” 

Trump criticized Frazier and Merck after he resigned, referencing the companies “ripoff drug prices,” in a post on Twitter. 

Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank and Intel CEO Brian Krzanich also resigned from Trump business councils. Trump again took to Twitter again to criticize their decision, calling them “grandstanders.” 

On Monday afternoon, Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, also resigned from the panel. He posted on Twitter:, "I'm resigning from the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative because it's the right thing for me to do."