Merck CEO resigns from presidential council over Trump remarks

An African-American CEO of a major pharmaceutical company has resigned from a presidential council in a direct response to President 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, arguing 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.

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"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."

Trump quickly fired back at the CEO, saying Merck would "have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!"

 

Frazier previously served as the chairman of a commission that investigated the pedophilia scandal at Pennsylvania State University. The commission's report found that Penn State administrators failed to take action to stop Jerry Sandusky, a football coach convicted of sexual abuse.

Trump faced backlash this weekend for denouncing the violence in Charlottesville, where one person died and numerous more were injured in clashes Saturday between white supremacists and counterprotesters, but not directly putting blame on any particular group.

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides — on many sides," Trump said at a press conference from his New Jersey golf course.

The White House on Sunday sought to clarify Trump's position.

"The president said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry, and hatred," the White House said on Sunday. "He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together." 

Other White House officials have also since defended the president's comments. National security adviser H.R. McMaster said Sunday he thinks Trump has been "very clear" in his response, adding that the country can't "tolerate this kind of bigotry."