The past two days for the White House and some of President Donald Trump’s most trusted business advisers have been chaotic to say the least, but nothing may compare to the conversations between Blackstone’s CEO Steve Schwarzman and President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner following the president’s controversial press conference, FOX Business has learned.
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On Tuesday evening, Schwarzman called Kushner, one of President Trump’s most trusted advisers, to inform him that the president's Strategic and Policy Forum was in chaos and on the verge of collapsing, according to numerous sources familiar with the matter. The forum disbanded after what many within the group believed was a tepid response from the administration to a deadly white supremacist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Schwarzman also told Kushner that he was unhappy with the president’s lack of response, according to those same sources.
On the same day of the initial conversation between Kushner and Schwarzman, President Trump addressed the media and claimed that there was “blame on both sides” at the Charlottesville protests and said good people were hidden within the crowd of neo-Nazis and violent hate groups.
"You had some very bad people in that group. You also had some very fine people on both sides,” President Trump said on Tuesday.
Following the remarks, corporate executives and congressmen from both sides of the aisle denounced the president's lack of vitriol against white supremacists. Schwarzman appeared to get the brunt of the complaints from some of the heavy hitters on Wall Street, according to sources close to the Blackstone executive and former chairman of the Strategic and Policy Forum, as he had numerous conversations with members of the council threatening to resign and others calling to disband the group entirely.
Later Tuesday evening, Schwarzman called Kushner to inform him of the situation and warn that the group is on the verge of no longer being in existence.
On Wednesday morning at 11:30 a.m., Schwarzman called for the forum members to convene for a phone conference to voice their grievances on President Trump and to make a decision on how to move forward. After hearing their complaints for 40 minutes and realizing that some of them had already resigned, Schwarzman then called Kushner at approximately 12:15 p.m. to inform him that the group had decided to disband, according to those familiar with the matter.
A spokesman for Kushner declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Schwarzman also declined to comment.
At 1:14 p.m., President Trump took to Twitter to announce he was terminating, not just the Strategic and Policy Forum, but also another set of corporate advisers within the President’s Committee on American Manufacturing.
“Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both…” Trump tweeted on Wednesday.
Even before the announcement of the councils being suspended, some members had already resigned.
Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock and a former member of Schwarzman’s council, said in a memo to his staff on Wednesday that he could no longer be part of the forum and that he had resigned earlier in the day.
“In the last 24 hours, I informed our clients on the Forum as well as the Forum’s chairman of my decision to resign. I also made clear that while I won’t be participating in the Forum, BlackRock will continue to engage on issues of public policy with governments at all levels and around the world,” Fink said.
Jeff Immelt, chairman of General Electric and formerly a part of the Manufacturing Council, said in a statement that he too had resigned on Wednesday morning and cited Trump’s statement as the reason he chose to step down.
“The President’s statements yesterday were deeply troubling. There would be no GE without people of all races, religions, genders and sexual orientations,”Immelt said.