The White House business council led by prominent Yale donor Stephen Schwarzman ’69 disbanded on Wednesday, after President Donald Trump came under fire for his comments on the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Schwarzman — who donated $150 million to Yale in 2015 to fund the construction of the Schwarzman Center — organized a conference call with other members of the council on Wednesday morning to discuss the group’s future, according to the New York Times.
After a debate, the business executives on the call decided to disband the council, officially known as the Strategic and Policy Forum, the Times reported.
Trump formed the council last December, and appointed Schwarzman as chair. Since then, the Blackstone founder has emerged as one of Trump’s closest confidantes in the business world, advising the president on issues ranging from the economy to immigration.
But this week, eight members of another business advisory group — the president’s manufacturing council — resigned in protest after Trump repeatedly blamed the violence at last weekend’s alt-right rally in Charlottesville “on both sides.”
No members of the Strategic and Policy Forum stepped down after Trump’s Charlottesville comments. But two had previously resigned to protest the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. And a third, the former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, left the council when Trump issued his immigration ban earlier this year.
After the conference call, Trump announced on Twitter that he was shutting down the manufacturing council and the Schwarzman-led Strategic and Policy Forum to avoid “putting pressure on the businesspeople.”
Schwarzman issued a statement on Monday condemning the violence in Charlottesville. But he did not step down from the Strategic and Policy Forum.
“Bigotry, hatred and extremism are an affront to core American values and have no place in this country,” Schwarzman wrote. “Encouraging tolerance and understanding must be a core national imperative and I will work to further that goal.”