The chief executive of pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. publicly resigned from a White House manufacturing council on Monday, declaring he felt “a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”
The move by Kenneth Frazier, one of corporate America’s leading African American executives, came after President Trump was criticized for not explicitly condemning white supremacists after violent clashes with counter-protestors turned deadly in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday.
Trump quickly lashed out at Frazier on Twitter.
“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 less than an hour after Merck posted Frazier’s statement on Twitter.
Frazier was among more than two dozen corporate executives and union officials advising the Trump administration on boosting American manufacturing.
But after Trump’s comments in the wake of the deadly Charlottesville protest, blaming the violence “on many sides” without specifically denouncing the white nationalists who were at the center of the clashes, Merck posted a statement on Twitter from Frazier announcing his resignation from the council.
“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,” Frazier said.
“As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism,” he said.
Many on Twitter noted that Trump responded more quickly and specifically to Frazier’s resignation than he did to the violence in Charlottesville.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said that Trump “proves again he’s capable of immediate and personal condemnation. Why not for white supremacists?”
7:30 a.m.: This article was updated with comment from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
This article originally was published at 7 a.m.