Merck CEO Kenneth C. Frazier resigned from the president’s council on manufacturing Monday in direct protest of President Donald Trump’s lack of condemnation of white nationalist actions in Charlottesville, Va. over the weekend.
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In a statement, Frazier, who is African-American, said he believes the country’s strength comes from the diversity of its citizens and that he feels personally compelled to stand up for that diversity and against intolerance.
“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 wrote. “As CEO of Merck, and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”
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Trump immediately fired back at Frazier on Twitter, saying the Merck CEO now “will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!”
Frazier joined Merck in 1992 and rose through the ranks to become CEO of the company in 2011. He was one of nearly 30 manufacturing and labor leaders named to the President’s Manufacturing Council in January. Made up of CEOs of large American companies including Ford, Dow Chemical, General Electric, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, the council is supposed to meet with the president regularly to discuss American manufacturing and job creation.
Frazier is no stranger to controversy, according to a report from The Hill, serving as chairman of the commission that investigated the pedophilia scandal at Penn State University and ultimately found Penn State administrators failed to take action to stop Gerry Sandusky, the football coach eventually convicted of sexual abuse.