WASHINGTON — The chairman and CEO of drug manufacturer Merck resigned from a White House council on manufacturing in protest of President Donald Trump’s response to white supremacist violence in Charlottesville.
Trump very quickly took to Twitter to attack the CEO, Kenneth C. Frazier.
Frazier said in a statement that “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 is one of the country’s most prominent African-American CEOs.
Trump has been criticized 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 did not specifically call out the white supremacist and Nazi groups that staged the march and rally in Charlottesville. He also blamed the violence on “many sides.” The White House on Sunday issued an unsigned statement saying that “of course that includes white supremacists, KKK Neo-Nazi and all extremist groups.”
But Democrats and a handful of elected Republicans criticized the remarks that Trump made himself as insufficient.
Trump is meeting on Monday morning with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray to discuss the Charlottesville situation.
Frazier’s resignation had some echoes to that of Walt Disney Co. CEO Robert Iger. He stepped down from a White House advisory council in June in protest of Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accords. Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, also resigned.