Who Is Ken Frazier? The Merck Executive Resigned In Protest Of Trump
One of the president's surrogates is making his opposition to the handling of the Charlottesville violence clear. Kenneth Frazier, CEO of of the pharmaceutical company Merck & Co., has resigned from President Trump's manufacturing council. Frazier's resignation is notable, as he is the only black member of the aforementioned council.
"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 said in a statement. "As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism."
President Trump's response and his refusal to specifically condemn white supremacist groups at the rally in Charlottesville that led to the death of at least one counter-protester, Heather Heyer, has been roundly criticized by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress.
"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides," Trump said in a statement on Saturday. "On many sides. It's been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time."
Trump tweeted about Frazier Monday morning. "Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President's Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!" he wrote.
The president's vague condemnations on Saturday were embraced on white supremacist websites like the Daily Stormer. "Trump comments were good," wrote one member. "He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us. He said that we need to study why people are so angry, and implied that there was hate... on both sides!"
The user went on to add, "There was virtually no counter-signaling of us at all. He said loves us all. Also refused to answer a question about White Nationalists supporting him."
Several white supremacists, such as former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke, said Saturday's rally was a sign of white America's determination to fulfill Donald Trump's promises to "take [their] country back."
“We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump," Duke said on Saturday. "That’s what we believed in. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back.”
A spokesperson for the White House insisted on Sunday that the president's statement on Saturday included white supremacists. "The president 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,” said the spokesperson.
President Trump has yet to condemn such groups directly himself.