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Trump v Tech: President Says Amazon Does ‘Great Damage’ & Disbands Advisory Councils

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

US President criticises Jeff Bezos-run Amazon and dissolves CEO councils ahead of more resignations over his Charlottesville response

US President Donald Trump let loose with an astonishing outburst against retailer giant Amazon in a Tweet on Wednesday.

Trump’s tweet knocked $5.7 billion off the share price of Amazon as shares in the company fell following Trump’s broadside.

And the White House shocks didn’t stop there, as Trump also then dissolved two high-profile business advisory councils, just before more CEOs were to resign over his response to the Charlottesville violence.

Donald Trump

Amazon Criticism

Trump’s tweet about Amazon should not come as a surprise to White House watchers, as Trump has repeatedly targetted Amazon in the past.

And it is worth noting that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos purchased the Washington Post in 2013. The newspaper is a fierce critic of Donald Trump.

“Amazon is doing great damage to tax paying retailers. Towns, cities and states throughout the U.S. are being hurt – many jobs being lost!” Trump wrote in his tweet on Wednesday.

“The #AmazonWashingtonPost, sometimes referred to as the guardian of Amazon not paying internet taxes (which they should) is FAKE NEWS!” Trump also tweeted back on 28 June.

Amazon of course is the largest Internet-based retailer in the world by total sales and market capitalisation. It is also the fourth most valuable public company in the world and the eighth largest employer in the United States (it is currently seeking to hire 50,000 people in the US).

That said, Amazon has faced tough questions in the past (both in the US and UK) over the amount of taxes it pays, but it does collect state sales taxes in 45 US states. It has also been accused in the past of damaging local shops and the high street.

The Amazon attack comes as Donald Trump is embroiled in the latest scandal of his Presidency, this time concerning his response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

His failure to condemn a deadly rally by white nationalists in the town and his insistence that counter protesters were also to blame, has infuriated many across the political spectrum. Former Presidents George HW Bush and George W Bush stepped in and said the US should “reject racial bigotry, anti-Semitism and hatred in all forms”.

Even staunch US ally the United Kingdom has hit out at his comments, after Prime Minister Theresa May said it is important to condemn far-right views “wherever we hear them”.

“I see no equivalence between those who propound fascist views and those who oppose them,” she said this week.

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CEO Councils

Meanwhile, the turmoil in the White House didn’t stop there.

The US President also disbanded two high-profile business advisory councils on Wednesday after eight chief executives of high profile US corporations resigned in protest over his Charlottesville remarks.

And both the American Manufacturing Council and the Strategic and Policy Forum were moving to disband on their own, just before Trump made his announcement on Twitter.

“Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!”,” Trump tweeted.

His move to disband both councils came after a tip-off from his close ally, Blackstone Group CEO Stephen Schwarzman, who is the head of the Strategic and Policy Forum. He had warned Trump of the intention of an overwhelming majority members to disband the council.

IBM Chief Executive Officer Ginni Rometty, who had been a member of of that council told Bloomberg that the panel was dissolved Wednesday after members determined that it could “no longer serve the purpose for which it was formed.”

“In the past week, we have seen and heard of public events and statements that run counter to our values as a country and a company,” she wrote in an email to IBM staff, that was shared with Bloomberg. “Earlier today I spoke with other members of the Forum and we agreed to disband the group.”

Quiz: How much do you know about Amazon?