An influential pharma boss has quit an advisory role over Donald Trump’s failure to condemn neo-Nazis involved in violent clashes with anti-fascist protesters in Virginia that left three people dead.
Merck chief executive Kenneth Frazier – one of America’s most prominent black executives – quit the US President’s American Manufacturing Council on Monday, saying he was taking a stand against intolerance and extremism in the wake of the violence.
:: Leaders condemn ‘repulsive’ far-right protests
Mr Trump criticised Mr Frazier’s decision on Twitter, but has come under fire himself for repeatedly failing to condemn the neo-Nazis who staged the initial rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
In a tweet announcing his resignation, Mr Frazier said: “America’s leaders must honour our fundamental views by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal.”
Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President’s Manufacturing Council,he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 14, 2017
The US President hit back, saying that now that “Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from the President’s Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!”
Mr Trump has claimed “many sides” were involved in the violence in Charlottesville, but has been heavily criticised across the political spectrum for not specifically denouncing the far right.
:: Neo-Nazi site given 24 hours after Heyer post
Video: Scaramucci criticises Trump’s Virginia response
The US President has been at his New Jersey golf club on a “working vacation”, but is expected to return to Washington on Monday to sign an executive action on China’s trade policies.
He will likely face questions and criticism from the media over his initial response to the violence on Saturday.
On Monday, attorney general Jeff Sessions said the death of paralegal Heather Heyer, 32, who was killed when a car ploughed into a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, “does meet the definition of domestic terrorism in our statute”.
He told ABC: “You can be sure we will charge and advance the investigation towards the most serious charges that can be brought, because this is an unequivocally unacceptable and evil attack that cannot be accepted in America.”
Video: What happened in Charlottesville?
Mr Sessions said he expects to hear more from Mr Trump after a meeting on Monday.
A White House statement on Sunday said: “The president said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred and of course that includes white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazi and all extremist groups.
“He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together.”
Video: Car rams counter-protesters in Charlottesville
Several executives from top US companies have stepped down from a number of presidential advisory councils in protest over Mr Trump’s policies.
Tesla chief executive Elon Musk and Walt Disney chief executive Robert Iger quit the Strategic and Policy Forum in June after Mr Trump announced the US would withdraw from the Paris climate accord.
Mr Musk has also left the manufacturing council.
Former Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick left the President’s business advisory council in February amid pressure from his company over the Trump administration’s immigration policies.
Source: Sky News