In a opinion piece for the Financial Times, Larry Summers, the former secretary of the Treasury and professor of economics at Harvard, attacked the business leaders who remained on the various works councils of President Donald Trump.
Summers, a longtime critic of Trump, wrote that Trump’s initial failure to speak out against white nationalists after the weekend violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, proved that members of various business advisory boards had little impact on the president.
“No adviser attached to the bipartisan traditions of the US government can believe it is effective at this point,” Summers wrote. “And everyone should be ashamed of the complicity in Mr. Trump’s words and deeds. Sometimes I wonder how they cope with their children.”
The article also praised Kenneth Frazier, the CEO of Merck, for stepping down from Trump’s manufacturing board on Monday due to Trump’s response to the Charlottesville violence.
“From the day of the inauguration, I have been troubled by the abdication of moral responsibility on the part of personalities in the business world who have lent their reputations to Donald Trump,” Summers wrote. “So kudos to Merck Managing Director Ken Frazier on his resignation from the American Manufacturing Council due to the president’s blatantly inadequate response in Charlottesville.”
Trump attacked Frazier on Twitter shortly after the CEO of the pharmaceutical industry left the board, saying, “Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from the President’s Manufacturing Board, he will have more time to REDUCE RIPOFF DRUG PRICES! “
Trump ultimately denounced white supremacist groups by name in a televised address hours after criticizing Frazier.
Summers too congratulated Under Armor CEO Kevin Plank for leaving the manufacturing board later Monday. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich stepped down from the board after Summers’ article was published.
Summers believes that by staying on the boards, business leaders are empowering Trump to gain legitimacy by using their reputation. The economist argued that business leaders could still call the White House on specific topics and influence policy without giving Trump the added value of their association through the advice.
“Every member of Mr. Trump’s advisory boards should strive with their conscience and ponder Edmund Burke’s famous warning that” All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. ” “Summers concluded.