Early in his presidency, Trump’s team made a big deal about his roundtable of top advisors from the commercial world. Captains of industry, innovators and big thinkers were set to gather from time to time in order to advise the President on matters of commerce and the global economy. At least, that’s what it was supposed to be about.
Seems like ever since the committee was announced, there has been some dissension in the ranks. Some were invited but declined, and others left shortly after the list of invitees was announced. Now, after Mr. Trump’s recent announcement about the United States leaving the Paris Climate Accord, two more big names have shown themselves the proverbial door.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Disney CEO Bob Iger have announced they will leave Trump’s business advisory council, effective immediately, in protest of his decision to pull the US out of the treaty.
“As a matter of principle, I’ve resigned from the President’s Council over the #ParisAgreement withdrawal,” Iger said.
“Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world,” Musk announced.
Iger, in particular, was a member of Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum, which was assembled specifically to advise the President. Not that he’s actually been to any meetings, citing scheduling conflicts as his reasons to bow out of previous get-togethers.
So, these announcements are, at least at this point, largely symbolic … but what they symbolize is open to interpretation. Some are saying it’s really nothing more than two guys who happen to disagree with the President showing their position in the most public way they can. Others, though, are saying this defection is evidence of a growing gap between the President and many major international business leaders.
Both Musk and Iger operate on businesses on several continents, and they have to consider all these angles when Trump makes statements guaranteed to aggravate Europe and Asia, which he did many times in his speech announcing plans to leave the Paris Agreement. And this isn’t’ the first time these two people, in particular, have clashed with Trump on policy.
Musk is a big believer both in space exploration and in the future of renewable energy sources. His big bet on electric cars is a thumb in the eye not only of the traditional auto industry but of the traditional energy sector at large. He believes renewable electric is the future, and he’s betting on it.
Meanwhile, Iger has clashed with Trump before on one of the President’s most signature issues: immigration. Iger recently told CNN, “I don’t believe we can close our borders… I do believe we need a very strong policy when it comes to security and safety, of course, but I think there’s a way to have both.”
Will these be the only defectors, or will there be others as Trump continues to make big moves?
Daniel Palmier is a leading Boston CEO, Real Estate Investment Manager, and Founder of UC Funds.