Hours after Kenneth Frazier, CEO of Merck Pharma, announced he was stepping down from the President’s Manufacturing Council, President Donald J. Trump hit back on Twitter.
Frazier’s resignation came two days after violence broke out at a white nationalist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. In a statement Monday morning, Frazier said he felt “a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”
Critics from all sides have criticized the president Trump for not taking a stronger stance against white supremacists after violence broke out at the rally, which left three people dead and nearly 20 injured.
“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 in the statement.
Trump didn’t mince words in his reaction to Frazier’s resignation, saying the pharmaceutical company CEO would now “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
Frazier was one of 28 company executives who joined Trump’s American Manufacturing Jobs Initiative in January.
Other CEOs have also left Trump’s advisory councils, including former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, who left in February. Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger left the Strategic and Policy Forum in June following Trump’s announcement that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.
As a trustee for Penn State, Frazier served as the chair of the special investigative committee in 2011 on the child-sex abuse case involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
Frazier has served as chairman of the board and CEO of Merck since 2011. In his statement, he said the U.S finds strength “from its diversity and the contributions made by men and women of different faiths, races, sexual orientations and political beliefs.”
Following the violent clash this weekend, Trump didn’t address white nationalists directly in his comments.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides — on many sides,” Trump said during a news conference at his New Jersey golf course.
Congressional Democrats called out Trump on Twitter by comparing the president’s response to Frazier’s resignation and his comments on the Charlottesville violence.
Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., said Trump didn’t “hesitate for a second to attack” Frazier but “balks at calling out avowed white supremacists for what they are.”
Jackie Speier (@RepSpeier) August 14, 2017
Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., said he was still waiting for Trump to “publicly condemn neo-Nazis.”
Dan Kildee (@RepDanKildee) August 14, 2017