President Trump attacked Kenneth Frazier Monday morning, minutes after the Merck CEO resigned from the president’s American Manufacturing Council.
Frazier’s announcement came as the White House is embroiled in controversy for its response to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., that left one counterprotester and two state police officers dead.
“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.
Trump quickly ripped Frazier on Twitter, writing that his resignation will give more time to “LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!”
Trump drew widespread criticism, including from Republicans, for not more forcefully denouncing the white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville. A number of lawmakers also implored the president to say publicly that the incident was an act of terrorism. Trump only condemned violence from “many sides.”
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides,” Trump said Saturday.
Later Monday, Trump gave a follow-up statement in which he explicitly condemned the “KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.” A spokesperson for Merck told CNBC that Trump’s most recent comments did not change Frazier’s decision to step down.
Frazier’s exit is the second high-profile departure from the council. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, resigned in June after Trump announced the U.S. would leave the Paris climate agreement. Trump did not publicly respond to Musk’s resignation.