On Wednesday afternoon, members of the president’s Strategic and Policy Forum agreed to disband. The decision followed a press conference on Tuesday, in which Trump equated white supremacist groups with counter-protesters at Charlottesville.
In a message to employees, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said he “personally supported” the decision. He also spoke out against the president’s comments.
“I strongly disagree with President Trump's reaction to the events that took place in Charlottesville over the past several days,” he wrote. “Racism, intolerance and violence are always wrong. The equal treatment of all people is one of our nation’s bedrock principles. There is no room for equivocation here: the evil on display by these perpetrators of hate should be condemned and has no place in a country that draws strength from our diversity and humanity.”
The email is a notable departure for Dimon who, in the past, has displayed a willingness to work with Trump. In May, the chief executive rebuffed protesters' demands that he quit the forum, saying that while he didn’t always agree with the president, he still wanted to help him lead the country.
Post Charlottesville (but prior to Dimon’s letter, and the council’s disbandment), eleven members of Trump’s advisory councils had already resigned. The wave started with Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier, who announced he was stepping down from the president’s Manufacturing Jobs Initiative Monday morning. By that evening, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank and Intel chief executive Brian Krzanich had joined him.
Trump’s inflammatory press conference on Tuesday—in which he walked back his previous comments condemning of neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups by essentially conflating their actions at Charlottesville with those of the counter-protesters—accelerated the fallout. Three additional members decamped on Tuesday, and Denise Morrison of Campbell Soup and Inge Thulin of 3M said they would resign Wednesday morning.
While the president’s advisory councils are largely ceremonial, the breakup sends a clear message—as does Dimon’s very public support of the decision.
Just three months ago, he described Trump as "the pilot flying our airplane.”
Today, he’s singing a very different tune. “It is a leader’s role, in business or government, to bring people together, not tear them apart," he wrote. Read his full statement to employees below.
I strongly disagree with President Trump's reaction to the events that took place in Charlottesville over the past several days. Racism, intolerance and violence are always wrong. The equal treatment of all people is one of our nation’s bedrock principles. There is no room for equivocation here: the evil on display by these perpetrators of hate should be condemned and has no place in a country that draws strength from our diversity and humanity.
As a company and for all business in general, it is critical that we help develop rational, intelligent policies to help expand opportunities for all of our citizens. I know that times are tough for many. The lack of economic growth and opportunity has led to deep and understandable frustration among so many Americans. But fanning divisiveness is not the answer. Constructive economic and regulatory policies are not enough and will not matter if we do not address the divisions in our country. It is a leader’s role, in business or government, to bring people together, not tear them apart.
Today, the members of the President's Strategic and Policy Forum agreed to disband. The group put out its own statement. But I also wanted you to understand why I personally supported this decision and how strongly I feel about these issues.
I’m very proud of the 250,000 people working here at JPMorgan Chase. I see your values every day – in how you treat your clients, your communities and each other. I am proud to see so many of you leading by example and not losing sight of the core principles which made our country great. I stand with you.