Politics

What Trump Had to Say About Merck CEO Who Quit Business Council

President slams pharmaceutical exec, 'He will have more time to lower ripoff drug prices'

President Donald Trump ripped into Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier Monday for resigning from the American Manufacturing Council.

The CEO of the pharmaceutical firm announced his resignation Monday in a statement citing the president’s decision not to use the specific words “white supremacy” and “Neo-Nazi” in condemning the hate groups who participated in the Charlottesville protest Saturday. This protest resulted in the death of one woman, with dozens of others wounded. Although Trump condemned “in the strongest possible terms” the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence” that took place “on many sides” in Charlottesville, he received widespread criticism for failing to identify specific groups.

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“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 his statement. “As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”

He added: “Our country’s strength stems from its diversity and the contributions made by men and women of different faiths, races, sexual orientations, and political beliefs.”

In response, Trump took to Twitter Monday morning to needle Frazier over his resignation, saying, “Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President’s Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!”

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The American Manufacturing Council, led by Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris, originally sported 28 members when it was formed in January to aid Trump in revitalizing U.S. manufacturing and creating jobs. But Frazier became the latest White House council member to step down in a protest against Trump and his policies.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Disney CEO Robert Iger resigned in June after Trump announced that the U.S. would be withdrawing from the Paris climate accord. Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick withdrew from Trump’s business advisory council in February after the president issued his travel-ban executive order.

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Although Frazier took issue with Trump’s all-encompassing Charlottesville statement on Saturday, the White House issued a statement Sunday clarifying that Trump “said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry, and hatred. Of course that includes white supremacists, KKK Neo-Nazi and all extremist groups. He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together.”

But that didn’t stop Frazier from making a personal statement and removing his voice and expertise from Trump’s manufacturing council.

Trump responded to Frazier’s departure less than an hour after the Merck CEO made his announcement — a fact that mainstream media members noticed and exploited as they continued to push their narrative.

“It took Trump 54 minutes to condemn Merck CEO Ken Frazier, but after several days he still has not condemned murdering white supremacists,” CNN commentator Keith Boykin tweeted.

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“Merck CEO Ken Frazier has officially earned more vigorous denunciation from Donald Trump than neo-Nazis. Happy 2017,” MSNBC’s Joy Reid tweeted.

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“It took Trump 54 minutes to harass Ken Frazier but we’re still waiting for him to denounce white nationalists,” Huffington Post global social media editor Ethan Klapper tweeted.

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(photo credit, homepage images: Gage Skidmore/World Economic Forum, Flickr; photo credit, article image: Gage Skidmore, Flickr)

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