Cleveland Clinic’s Toby Cosgrove planned to stay on as Trump adviser, but panel disbanded

President Trump's Strategic and Policy Forum has now been disbanded.
Toby Cosgrove
Toby Cosgrove

While other big-name CEOs ditched President Donald Trump’s manufacturing panel and strategic and policy forum in the wake of the president’s response to this weekend’s violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, one well-known hospital executive had no plans to step down as an adviser.

Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove, M.D., indicated on Monday that he would not leave the strategic and policy forum despite widespread criticism across the country that Trump failed to condemn white supremacists who carried torches and flags with swastikas last weekend during a protest that ended when a car drove into the crowd of counterprotesters, resulting in the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 people. An Ohio man, who has been described as a white supremacist, has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with the attack.

RELATED: Cleveland Clinic’s Toby Cosgrove to step down, search begins for new president and CEO

But the decision may be taken out of his hands. CNBC this afternoon reported that members of the Strategic and Policy Forum have agreed to disband the group and Trump announced on Twitter that he would end both the business panels. 

The controversy escalated after Trump placed blame for the violence on “many sides” during remarks that appeared to many that he was criticizing the counterprotesters as well as the white supremacists. His comments led several well-known business executives to step down as advisers to Trump’s council on manufacturing jobs. Among them: Merck CEO Ken Frazier, who said that America’s leaders need to clearly reject “expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy."

But a spokeswoman for the Cleveland Clinic told earlier this week that Cosgrove planned to remain an adviser on Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum, a nonpartisan panel that makes business and economic growth recommendations.

"Dr. Cosgrove believes that it's important to be able to provide input at the highest level of government on healthcare matters," Eileen Sheil told the publication. “There hasn't been a meeting of the Strategic and Policy Forum since April, and there aren't any future meetings scheduled," Sheil said.

Cosgrove, who intends to leave Cleveland Clinic’s top post at the end of the year, was a frontrunner for Trump’s pick for secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, but he withdrew his name from consideration when he couldn’t get out of his commitment to the Cleveland Clinic.

RELATED: 1K docs, nurses urge Cleveland Clinic to cancel fundraiser at Trump resort

The institution has been under fire recently for failing to cancel an annual fundraiser planned at a resort owned by Trump after his executive order on immigration. The Cleveland Clinic has said it plans to hold the fundraiser there again in 2018, and more than 1,600 medical students, nurses and doctors have signed a new petition urging the organization to find a new location for the fundraiser in light of Trump's policies—which conflict with the  Cleveland Clinic’s mission.

“Hosting the event on Trump property is a symbolic and financial endorsement of the President’s policies and statements, many of which threaten our patients’ health — particularly the very young, the very old, cancer patients, and the chronically ill,” the petition says. “This is explicitly counter to the Clinic’s stated core values of compassion and integrity. Holding the fundraiser in that location comes at the expense of the most vulnerable among us."