Behind the Scenes as Trump Councils Fell Apart

"I strongly disagree with President Trump's reaction to the events that took place in Charlottesville over the past several days", he said.

President Trump's main council of top corporate leaders appeared on the verge of disbanding on Wednesday, said people briefed on the matter, following controversial remarks from Mr. Trump on Tuesday when he equated white nationalist hate groups with the protesters opposing them.

Today, the members of the President's Strategic and Policy Forum agreed to disband.

On the call, the chief executives of some of the largest companies in the country were debating how to proceed.

However, according to a letter IBM CEO Ginni Rometty sent to her employees yesterday, the Forum spoke earlier that morning and made the decision to disband.

If the forum does survive, several C.E.O.s were expected to resign from it.

"I notified members of the council this morning that I could no longer serve on the President's Committee on American Manufacturing", Immelt said in a statement to CNNMoney.

Schwarzman, one of the administration's business ambassadors, listened over the phone this week as one CEO after another expressed dismay over Trump's response to the deadly events in Charlottesville - and then over his full-throated attack on a prominent black executive, Kenneth Frazier of Merck & Co., who, unlike many CEOs, had refused to remain silent. "The past few months have provided me with an opportunity to reflect upon my commitment to these values", he said in his statement announcing his resignation.

"Racism and murder are unequivocally reprehensible and are not morally equivalent to anything else that happened in Charlottesville".

Trump has criticized those who left the group, and accused them of "grandstanding".

Tesla CEO Elon Musk was the first to leave the council, resigning after Trump announced the USA would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.

After Trump's Tuesday statements, Republican U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen added his voice to those countering the president.

WASHINGTON-Roughly 30 minutes after Inge Thulin, 3M's chairman, president and CEO, announced on Twitter that he would step down from the Jobs Manufacturing Initiative, President Trump said he would dissolve the council. "I will continue to support all efforts to spur economic growth and advocate for the values that have always made American great".

Johnson & Johnson's Alex Gorsky had been among the last to weigh in publicly, saying before Trump's Tuesday news conference that he planned to remain on the manufacturing council "as a way to present the values of our credo as crucial public policy is discussed and developed".