It’s ‘dangerous’ that Trump’s business councils disbanded because the government needs our input, CEO says

Key Points
  • EY CEO Mark Weinberger said President Trump was an "open" and "verbal" learner.
  • Weinberger said it was "dangerous" that businesses could not advise Trump as a group.
  • He said Trump "doesn't always agree" but that he "definitely listens."
EY CEO: Important to separate bigger economic picture from the noise

The absence of President Donald Trump's business advisory councils is "dangerous" because businesses can no longer coordinate to provide the government with their input, the chief executive of auditing giant EY told CNBC.

Mark Weinberger, who sat on one of the now-disbanded councils of CEOs advising Trump on economic issues, said Friday that the president was an "open" and "verbal" learner. Weinberger said Trump listened to executives' concerns even though they did not always see eye-to-eye.

"I think (Trump) processed very carefully what he heard and you could see his policy prescriptions change," Weinberger told CNBC's Tania Bryer. "I think it's dangerous that we're no longer constantly there as a group because I think he needs that input."

He added: "That being said of course we're still working with the government one-off and working with them on different policy initiatives."

Two of Trump's advisory councils — the Manufacturing Council and the Strategy and Policy Forum — broke up last year after controversial comments made by the president about a white nationalist rally held in Charlottesville, Virginia. After various executives began resigning from the councils, Trump said on Twitter he had decided to dissolve both groups to avoid "putting pressure on the businesspeople."

Trump meetings were 'very positive'

Weinberger said he believed that businesses have a responsibility to work with governments and "bring our expertise to the table."

Mark Weinberger
Olivia Michael | CNBC

"With President Trump it was very positive because we gave him real-time information about what we were doing, how we were creating jobs and about how his policy prescriptions would affect our businesses and I believe that dialogue's really important," he said.

"I'd rather be in the room where we agree and disagree and talk about it rather than outside the group complaining."

Weinberger said that EY still communicates with the U.S. administration to advise on policy. He said that Trump "doesn't always agree" with the accounting firm's concerns but that he "definitely listens."

"But I've been very clear too there have been many areas too where we haven't agreed but at least he understands where we're coming from," he said.