Intel’s Brian Krzanich calls it quits on Trump council after Virginia clashes

15 Aug 2017

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich speaking in 2016. Image: Stuart Isett/Fortune Brainstorm Tech/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich has resigned from Donald Trump’s manufacturing council in protest over his delayed condemning of white supremacy.

Days after violence broke out at a rally held by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, US president Donald Trump finally succumbed to pressure from politicians and the public to directly call out their actions, which led to the death of Heather Heyer, a counter-protester.

However, this delay in directly condemning white supremacy has not gone down well with members of Trump’s manufacturing council, with three deciding to quit, including Intel’s CEO, Brian Krzanich.

In a blog post, Krzanich said he had handed in his resignation to the president in order to “call attention to the serious harm our divided political climate is causing to critical issues”.

He added: “I resigned because I want to make progress, while many in Washington seem more concerned with attacking anyone who disagrees with them.

“We should honour – not attack – those who have stood up for equality and other cherished American values. I hope this will change, and I remain willing to serve when it does.”

Krzanich continued: “My request – my plea – to everyone involved in our political system is this: set scoring political points aside and focus on what is best for the nation as a whole.

“The current environment must change, or else our nation will become a shadow of what it once was, and what it still can and should be.”

Joining Krzanich in quitting the council were Merck (known as MSD outside of the US) CEO Kenneth Frazier and Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank.

‘A matter of public conscience’

In Frazier’s statement posted to Twitter, the head of one of the largest pharma companies on the planet said that he was leaving the council as “a matter of public conscience” in order to “take a stand against intolerance and extremism”.

He added: “America’s leaders must honour our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal.”

Shortly after, Trump took to Twitter to condemn Frazier by claiming that with the CEO now out of the council, he has more time to focus on lowering “rip-off drug prices”.

Krzanich and Frazier are not the first CEOs in the sci-tech industry to quit Trump’s council in protest, with SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk leaving in June over the president’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement.

At the time, Krzanich said he would be staying on the board despite Trump’s decision.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich speaking in 2016. Image: Stuart Isett/Fortune Brainstorm Tech/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic