CEOs Resign from President’s Manufacturing Council

Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier listens at right as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with manufacturing executives at the White House in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The election of a businessman to the White House fueled a wave of optimism among America’s CEOs. Now some of those same business leaders are turning on President Trump.

On Monday, Kenneth Frazier, the CEO of Merck (MRK), joined the growing list of executives who feel compelled by Trump’s words and policies to take a stand against him. Frazier, one of the country’s most prominent black business leaders, quit Trump’s manufacturing council to “take a stand against intolerance and extremism.” That appeared to be a reference to Trump’s statement over the weekend blaming the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, on “many sides” after neo-Nazis and white nationalists clashed with counter-protesters.

Trump lashed out at Frazier within minutes, saying the resignation would give him “more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!”

 

Following two days of criticism, Trump on Monday called out the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists as “evil” and “hate groups” that are “repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.” Frazier did not mention the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, in his statement, but he did say that “as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”

Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank said Monday night that he’s leaving President Trump’s manufacturing council, the second departure by a high-profile business leader in the space of a day. Plank didn’t give a clear reason for stepping down, but his announcement comes amid fierce criticism of Trump’s response over the weekend to violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“Under Armour engages in innovation and sports, not politics” Plank said in a statement. He said he would “continue to focus my efforts on inspiring every person that they can do anything through the power of sport which promotes unity, diversity and inclusion.”