Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers on Wednesday eviscerated chief executives who remain on White House advisory councils in the wake of fallout over Trump’s response to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville over the weekend.
Summers specifically narrowed in on Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, who this week condemned Trump’s remarks in the wake of the rally but said he would remain on one of the president’s advisory councils regardless.
“He is not fit to be the CEO of Walmart if his judgment is so bad as to suppose that being a member of this council is giving him some sort of effectiveness,” Summers said in an interview on CNBC. “What he may be — and what a number of CEOs are — is scared. Scared that if they leave, the president, using the tools of government, will retaliate.”
McMillon defended his decision to stay on the council, saying Walmart “should stay engaged to try to influence decisions in a positive way and help bring people together.”
Summers called that reasoning “egoistic delusion.”
“It is absurd to suppose that if the CEO of Walmart wishes to speak to anyone in the Senate, anyone in the president’s cabinet, or key officials in the White House, he will be unable to if he is not a member of the presidents’ council.”
“I cannot understand why others have not followed Ken Frazier out the door,” Summers said, referring to the CEO of Merck, who was the first to leave the council. “This is not a happy day for American business.”
He said CEOs who remain on the president’s councils are legitmising what he called Trump’s “endorsement” of white supremacists.
“I don’t know how people who are supporting them are able to face their children,” Summers said.
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