In a rare form of political commentary, Walmart’s CEO spoke out against President Donald Trump in a statement emailed to its employees Monday.
Doug McMillion, the company’s top executive, criticized Trump’s handling of the domestic terrorist attack in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend that left one woman dead and another 19 injured.
The statement has since been posted on the company’s website and says that Trump “missed a critical opportunity to help bring our country together by unequivocally rejecting the appalling actions of white supremacists.”
McMillion’s statement comes after an outpouring of backlash against Trump for his initial response to the car-ramming attack, which left 32-year-old Heather Heyer dead. Some say he didn’t go far enough to denounce the violent acts of white supremacists and right-wing extremist rallying over the weekend at an organized rally named “Unite the Right.”
Read the full statement below:
Respect for the individual is one of our core beliefs at Walmart. And the role we play in communities around the country to build a more diverse and inclusive society is more critical than ever as the tragic events in Charlottesville over the weekend painfully reminded us. Our prayers are with the victims and their families.
As we watched the events and the response from President Trump over the weekend, we too felt that he missed a critical opportunity to help bring our country together by unequivocally rejecting the appalling actions of white supremacists. His remarks today were a step in the right direction and we need that clarity and consistency in the future.
Our country is facing some very difficult issues that require our elected officials, business leaders and community-based organizations to work together. Representing a company with the largest and one of the most diverse groups of associates in the U.S., and an even more diverse customer base of tens of millions of customers, we believe we should stay engaged to try to influence decisions in a positive way and help bring people together. I will continue to strongly advocate on behalf of our associates and customers, and urge our elected officials to do their part to promote a more just, tolerant and diverse society.
Thank you for representing Walmart and our values today — and every day.
On Monday, two days after the attack, Trump addressed the nation by condemning the act and hate groups that helped fuel it.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, it has no place in America,” Trump said. “And as I’ve said many times before, no matter the color of our skin, we all live under the same laws. We all salute the same great flag and we are all made by the same almighty God.
“We must love each other, show affection for each other and unite together in condemnation of hatred, bigotry and violence. We must rediscover the bonds of love and loyalty that bring us together as Americans.”
Later in the day, the CEOs of Merck Pharmaceuticals, Under Armour and Intel announced they would be stepping down from an advisory council for manufacturing. Then on Tuesday, Scott Paul, the president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing tweeted that he’d also resign from the council simply because “it’s the right thing for (him) to do.”
Trump responded to the resignations by saying there are “many” CEOs that are in line to take their place on the council, accusing them of grandstanding.
Although McMillion announced he had stepped down from the manufacturing council, a company spokesperson told the New York Times that he would still serve on Trump’s advisotry council on economic development, telling the publication that Walmart “should stay engaged to try to influence decisions in a positive way and help bring people together.”