Kenneth C Frazier, the African- American CEO of Merck pharmaceutical giant, today resigned from President Donald Trump's American Manufacturing Council after racially tinged clashes in Charlottesville, saying he was taking a stand against intolerance and extremism.
"I am resigning from the President's American Manufacturing Council," said Frazier, who is one of the few African-American CEO of a Fortune 500 Company.
"As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism," he said in a statement posted on Twitter.
Hundreds of white supremacists clashed with counter demonstrators as a car rammed into the crowd and a police helicopter crashed on Saturday, killing three people and injuring 19 others in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Trump condemned the violence but said "many sides" were involved, inviting criticism from across the political spectrum for not specifically denouncing the far right.
"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," Frazier said.
Trump responded within the hour, describing Frazier's resignation as good riddance.
"Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President's Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!" Trump tweeted.
Trump has been widely criticized for his remarks on the Charlottesville violence on Saturday. His political opponents have slammed him for not specifically mentioning white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups in his statement.
The White House has said that was not the case.
"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," a White House spokesperson said in a statement.
Democratic Congressman Jimmy Gomez was highly critical of Trump today. "Trump can immediately denounce Merck CEO who resigns WH Council but not white supremacists who spew hate & spread terror. Says a lot," he tweeted.
Congressman Frank Pallone hoped more CEO would resign.