The African-American chairman and CEO of drug manufacturer Merck abruptly resigned from a presidential council on manufacturing in protest of President Donald Trump’s remarks about “many sides” being to blame for violence over the weekend in Charlottesville, Va.
Merck chairman and CEO Kenneth Frazier said he was leaving Trump’s American Manufacturing Council, explaining that U.S. leaders must “clearly reject expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy.”
“Our country’s strength stems from its diversity and the contributions made by men and women of different faiths, races, sexual orientations and political beliefs,” Frazier said in a statement that did not mention Trump by name.
“America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal,” he continued.
“As CEO of Merck, and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”
— Merck (@Merck) August 14, 2017
Trump very quickly took to Twitter to attack the CEO, saying Merck would “have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!”
Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President's Manufacturing Council,he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 14, 2017
Trump has been criticized from both sides of the aisle for his response on Saturday to the violent protests in Charlottesville, in which one counter protester, Heather Heyer, was killed when the driver of a car plowed into a group of pedestrians. The driver, James Alex Fields, 20, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.
Trump condemned the “hatred, bigotry and violence,” but failed to specifically call out the white supremacist and Nazi groups that organized the deadly march and rally in Charlottesville, instead, blaming the violence on “many sides.”
Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) pleaded with the president to use the words “white supremacists” and to label what happened Saturday as a terrorist attack, instead of vaguely calling out violence on “both sides.” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) declared that “white supremacy is a scourge” that “must be confronted and defeated.” Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) tweeted, “We should call evil by its name. My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.”
Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer (D) directly blamed Trump for the explosion of hate in his city this weekend, accusing the president of intentionally courting white supremacists, nationalists and anti-Semitic groups during his 2016 campaign.
“This is not hard. There’s two words that need to be said over and over again: domestic terrorism and white supremacy,” Signer said. “That is exactly what we saw on display this weekend, and we just aren’t seeing leadership from the White House.”