Merck's CEO quits Trump's council over Charlottesville

Rodiano Bonacci
Agosto 20, 2017

The CEO of the nation's third largest pharmaceutical company is resigning from the President's American Manufacturing Council citing "a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism".

Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank resigned from the panel later Monday, saying his company "engages in innovation and sports, not politics".

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk and Disney chief executive Bob Iger stepped down from councils in June after Trump withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord. Meanwhile, a weakened Trump will be less able to retaliate vs. corporations, especially as the number grows.

In response, Mr Trump tweeted that Mr Frazier would now have "more time to lower rip off drug prices".

President Donald Trump is saying that "racism is evil" as he condemns the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists as "criminals and thugs".

Frazier said Monday he was resigning from the council over Trump's response to a racist terror attack in Charlottesville over the weekend.

By Monday afternoon the AFL-CIO said it was "assessing" its role in the manufacturing group - which it said "has yet to hold any real meeting". In June, Disney CEO Robert Iger and Tesla CEO Elon Musk quit another White House business advisory council over Trump's decision to withdraw the USA from a global climate-change treaty, called the Paris Agreement.

As Chris Cillizza noted on CNN, "The wrong answer is to not name them, to cast the events in Charlottesville as an example of both-sides-do-it-ism and make your statement vague enough that it can be interpreted in any way shape or form as condoning this sort of behavior".

"The AFL-CIO has unequivocally denounced the actions of bigoted domestic terrorists in Charlottesville and called on the president to do the same", Trumka said in a statement. Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier was the first to announce his resignation followed by Under Armour's Kevin Plank and Intel's Brian Krzanich.

Kenneth Frazier of Merck said in a statement: "America's leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy".

This isn't the first time Trump has clashed this year with high-profile CEOs over his handling of policy matters.

The industry's silence comes as Trump is finalizing an executive order on drug prices that would relax industry regulation and contains measures that, some say, would protect existing drug prices or even increase them.

The White House said Sunday that Trump's remarks condemning violence at a white nationalist rally were meant to include the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi groups. At the time, the White House hailed the council, including Frazier, as "some of the world's most successful and creative business leaders".

And then, the CEO of computer chip maker Intel announced he would also leave the group. "We believe we should stay engaged to try to influence decisions in a positive way and help bring people together", Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said in an internal company memo.

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