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Merck CEO quits Trump's manufacturing council, citing stand against extremism

Merck & Co. Inc. Chairman and CEO Kenneth Frazier said he resigned from President Donald Trump's White House manufacturing council, citing a "matter of personal conscience," and a "responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism."

"Our country's strength stems from its diversity and the contributions made by men and women of different faiths, races, sexual orientations and political beliefs," Frazier said in a statement posted to Twitter Aug. 14. "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."

Trump has been criticized broadly, including by members of his own Republican party, for not specifically calling out white supremacists and neo-Nazis for the violence in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12, which led to the death of a 32-year-old woman.

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. It's been going on for a long time in our country," Trump said from his golf club in New Jersey.

Trump responded to Frazier's resignation with a tweet: "Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President's Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!"

As a member of the manufacturing council, Frazier had attended several events in the past year at the White House, where he joined other company chiefs in advising Trump on various business matters.

Most recently, Frazier was at the White House in July with Pfizer Inc.'s CEO Ian Read touting their ongoing partnership with Corning Inc. in making glass vials for injectable medicines and vaccines more resistant to damage.