But then Trump repeated his initial remarks in an off-the-cuff press conference Tuesday that was supposed to be about the very business of business — his infrastructure plans. Trump's advisers were visibly shocked and so was the business community.
"They were appalled by what has happened since Charlottesville and yesterday was the tripwire," said one member of the panel. Besides Trump's comments about who was to blame in Charlottesville, Trump also criticized Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon for speaking out about Trump's response.
McMillon had told employees in a memo Monday that Trump "missed a critical opportunity to help bring the country together" with his comments. But the CEO chose to remain on the president's forum. Trump lashed out at McMillon on Tuesday and accused him of being "politicial."
"There was also a real chill...when [Trump] was critical of Doug McMillon at Wal-Mart," said one source.
Meanwhile, the four CEOs on the Tuesday evening conference wanted Schwarzman to hold a call, said the source from a company that had been part of the forum.
Then in an email he sent just before 3 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Schwarzman, called on all of the group's members to convene via conference call at 11:30 a.m.
In a call that went past noon, each panel member was called upon to speak, in alphabetical order. They talked about the events over the past few days, their condemnation of Trump's comments, and the concerns expressed by their employees, customers and the public.
Barra said it was time to "sunset" the panel, a source said.
Likewise, Dimon made an emotional case for ending the forum, according to a source. The JPMorgan CEO later said in a statement that he disagreed with Trump's reaction to the events in Charlottesville. "Racism, intolerance and violence are always wrong," he wrote to his employees.
BlackRock CEO Larry Fink said on the call that he would resign if the group didn't decide to dissolve itself.
"I would urge that the forum disband itself and if it doesn't disband, I'm stepping down," he said, according to one source.
In a later statement, Fink said he had been telling other forum CEOs whose companies are clients of BlackRock, as well as Schwarzman, during the previous 24 hours that he was ready to resign.
"The thinking was it was important to do it as a group, as a panel, not as individuals because it would have more significant impact. It makes a central point that it's not going to go forward. It's done," said a source who was a member of the panel.
The decision was made and the group awaited its statement both condemning the comments and announcing that it was dissolving itself. But then Trump fired off a tweet which said he was ending both the manufacturing council and the Strategy and Policy Forum, "rather than putting pressure on the business people" on the committees.
The forum's statement later Wednesday added that the president, as well as the forum, decided to end the panel. One source said Schwarzman had been in contact with Trump.
"It's a shame; it did some positive things. One of the most important [things] was to stop the currency war with China," said the source who was a member of the panel. But on Wednesday, there was no debate about whether the panel should continue.
"There was such a firestorm. You don't know what's coming next or what he's going to say or do next," said the member. "It's striking when the president loses the confidence of America's CEOs."
Andrew Ross Sorkin and Phil Lebeau contributed to this story.
Correction and clarification: This story has also been updated to clarify the timeline of when CEOs discussed their concerns about Trump and corrects that Pepsico's CEO did not speak to other CEOs until Tuesday. The story has also been updated to reflect that Trump said Saturday that "many sides" were responsible for violence in Charlottesville.