Corporate leaders can disagree with President Donald Trump's comments regarding Saturday's deadly white nationalist rally and can remain engaged in crafting policies to help businesses, Southern Company chief Tom Fanning told CNBC.
The notion that CEOs can't do both is "a little bit of a false choice," the energy company chairman and CEO said Wednesday on "Squawk Box" amid the uproar from the president's reaction to the weekend clashes between white supremacists and counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. A 32-year-old woman was killed Saturday when a car driven by a suspected white supremacist plowed into a group of counterprotesters, authorities said.
On Tuesday, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, union colleague Thea Lee, and the president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, Scott Paul, resigned from Trump's manufacturing council. A day earlier, Merck CEO Ken Frazier, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich and Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank announced their departures.
"You can certainly look at the events in Charlottesville and say, 'That was awful. That's not good for America in any circumstance," Fanning said. "And at the same time, they can remain engaged in the big issues of the day and make sure business plays an appropriate role — action not rhetoric — to make America better, to drive the economy forward."