- The Washington Times - Friday, February 3, 2017

Uber’s top executive resigned from President Trump’s business advisory council Thursday in reaction to the White House authorizing travel restrictions last week against citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries.

“Earlier today I spoke briefly with the president about the immigration executive order and its issues for our community. I also let him know that I would not be able to participate on his economic council,” Uber CEO Travis Kalanick wrote in a letter to employees Thursday.

Mr. Kalanick, 40, was named late last year to the president’s Strategic and Policy Forum, a handpicked team of business leaders comprised of executives from General Motors, General Electric, Tesla, Wal-Mart and other companies, in order to help “create jobs and drive economic growth,” according to Mr. Trump.

Since taking office two weeks ago, however, Mr. Trump’s conduct has spurred repeated calls for Mr. Kalanick and others to distance themselves from the president, particularly in light of last week’s executive order restricting entry to the United States for citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

“We must believe that the actions we take ultimately move the ball forward,” Mr. Kalanick told employees Thursday. “There are many ways we will continue to advocate for just change on immigration but staying on the council was going to get in the way of that.”

“The executive order is hurting many people in communities all across America. Families are being separated, people are stranded overseas and there’s a growing fear the U.S. is no longer a place that welcomes immigrants,” he added, calling an openness to refugees “an important part of our country’s success and quite honestly to Uber‘s.”

Mr. Trump’s advisory council met Friday at the White House as previously scheduled despite the sudden shakeup.

“These are the biggest and the best minds in this country,” Mr. Trump said of Friday’s attendees, according to a White House transcript of the meeting.

Uber came under fire prior to Mr. Kalanick’s resignation after the company announced it would turn off surge pricing at John F. Kennedy International Airport amid a massive Jan. 27 protest in reaction to the president’s executive order.

Taxi cab drivers unaffiliated with the ride-share service demonstrated in solidarity by not picking up or dropping off passengers at JFK, prompting critics to accuse Uber of undermining the protests by lowering its own prices. More than 200,000 Uber customers subsequently deleted their accounts in the days that followed.

“Joining the [Strategic and Policy Forum] was not meant to be an endorsement of the president or his agenda but unfortunately it has been misinterpreted to be exactly that,” Mr. Kalanick told employees Thursday.

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