Merck CEO Steps Down From Trump Business Council

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A pharmaceutical CEO left President Donald Trump's manufacturing council after Trump's comments regarding the protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12.

Kenneth C. Frazier, chief executive of Merck Pharmaceuticals, stepped down from the president's American Manufacturing Council, citing Trump's slow response to the white nationalist rally, which turned deadly, according to The New York Times.

Frazier, who is black, issued a statement on the Merck Twitter account announcing his resignation from the president's council.

“America’s leaders must honor our fundamental views by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal," Frazier wrote.

Trump, who is still on vacation at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, responded to Frazier's resignation with a tweet of his own.

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"Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President's Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES," Trump wrote.

Several executives and other leaders offered their support for Frazier and his decision. Frazier is one of a few black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and was personally invited to join Trump's newly minted council shortly after the president's inauguration, reports CNN Money.

Trump also drew criticism for his decision to attack Frazier, considering the amount of blowback he received for his response to the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville. During the protests, a white nationalist allegedly drove a car into a group of counter-protesters, killing one and injuring at least 30.

Frazier is only the second African American to head a major pharmaceutical firm, according to The New York Times.

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"It took Trump 54 minutes to condemn Merck CEO Ken Frazier, but after several days he still has not condemned murdering white supremacists," said Keith Boykin, a former aide to former President Bill Clinton.

Trump issued a further statement about the rallies in Virginia, making more specified rebukes about white supremacy and singling them out, reports the Los Angeles Times.

"Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans," Trump said on Aug. 14.

Other executives on the business council issued statements via Twitter denouncing racism and bigotry, but did not note if they were planning to resign.

Other executives have left Trump's councils in the past, most of them after the president's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, a multinational agreement, according to CNN Money. Elon Musk of Tesla, Bob Iger of Disney and Lloyd Blankenfeld of Goldman Sachs all left advisory boards.

Sources: The New York Times, CNN Money, Los Angeles Times / Featured Image: World Economic Forum/Wikimedia Commons  /  Embedded Images: Los Angeles Times, Merck/Twitter

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