The New York Times reports: Several of the president’s top advisers, including his new Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, pressed Mr. Trump to issue a more forceful rebuke after his comment on Saturday that the violence in Charlottesville was initiated by “many sides,” prompting nearly universal criticism.
That pressure reached boiling point early Monday after the president attacked the head of Merck pharmaceuticals, who is black, for quitting an advisory board over his failure to call out white nationalists.
Merck’s chief executive, Kenneth C. Frazier, resigned from the president’s American Manufacturing Council on Monday, saying he objected to the president’s statement on Saturday blaming violence that left one woman dead on “many sides.”
“America’s leaders must honor 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,” Mr. Frazier said in a tweet announcing he was stepping down from the panel. Mr. Frazier is one of just a handful of black chief executives of a Fortune 500 company.
— Merck (@Merck) August 14, 2017
Less than hour later, Mr. Trump, responded on social media as he departed his golf resort in Bedminster, N.J., for a day trip back to Washington.
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
Mr. Trump’s shot at one of the country’s best-known black executives prompted an immediate outpouring of support for Mr. Frazier from major figures in business, media and politics. “Thanks @Merck Ken Frazier for strong leadership to stand up for the moral values that made this country what it is,” Paul Polman, the chief executive of Unilever, wrote on Twitter.
It’s not unusual for Mr. Trump to attack, via Twitter, any public figure who ridicules, criticizes or even mildly questions his actions. But his decision to take on Mr. Frazier, a self-made multimillionaire who rose from a modest childhood in Philadelphia to attend Harvard Law School, was extraordinary given the wide-ranging criticism he has faced from both parties for not forcefully denouncing the neo-Nazis and Klan sympathizers who rampaged in Charlottesville. [Continue reading…]