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Economy

Trump’s Strategy and Policy Forum chaired by Schwarzman disbands following president’s remarks

President Donald Trump has closed both the Strategy and Policy Forum and the Manufacturing Council, the president confirmed via Twitter on Wednesday.

"Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!" he wrote on Twitter.

Several senior executives began leaving the council following Mr. Trump's remarks on the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12. In his comments, Mr. Trump equated white supremacist groups with the groups protesting them.

Members of the Forum decided to disband before Trump announced its closure.

In an internal memo sent to employees on Wednesday, Laurence D. Fink, BlackRock (BLK) chairman and CEO and forum member wrote: "In the last 24 hours, I informed our clients on the forum as well as the forum's chairman of my decision to resign."

Mr. Fink added, "While I have disagreed with the president in certain instances this year, I continued to participate in the forum because I believed it was important to have a voice at the table for investors, including our clients. Unfortunately, after the last few days, I concluded that I could no longer in good conscience participate in the forum."

The BlackRock chairman described the "events that occurred in Charlottesville" as "nothing short of domestic terrorism."

The Strategy and Policy Forum issued a statement Wednesday that said, "Intolerance, racism and violence have absolutely no place in this country and are an affront to core American values."

The statement continued: "We believe the debate over forum participation has become a distraction from our … desire to aid vital policy discussions on how to improve the lives of everyday Americans. As such, the president and we are disbanding the forum."

Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase and former member of the forum, said in a statement Wednesday that "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."

The Strategy and Policy Forum was chaired by Blackstone Group CEO Stephen A. Schwarzman.

Paula Chirhart, a Blackstone spokeswoman, referred to the forum's statement but declined to comment further.

In response to the forum closing, Rhode Island Treasurer Seth Magaziner, who oversees the State Investment Commission, issued the following statement: "The disbanding of the Strategy and Policy Forum is the latest sign that the president's divisive rhetoric and chaotic management style have harmed his ability to effectively govern. We continue to hope that the president will act with a higher level of maturity and that other leaders in Washington will fill the current leadership vacuum."