Instead of Denouncing White Nationalists, Trump Attacks Merck CEO for Leaving Advisory Panel

Ken Frazier resigned amid the president’s refusal to denounce white supremacy.

President Donald Trump railed against Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier on Twitter Monday morning, shortly after the pharmaceuticals executive announced his decision to leave a White House advisory council in protest over the president’s refusal to directly denounce white nationalists in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

In a statement explaining his exit from the president’s manufacturing council, Frazier, who is African American, said he felt compelled to “take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”

“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,” Frazier said.

Trump has attracted bipartisan condemnation for failing to name and condemn the white supremacist groups responsible for the “Unite the Right” rally that turned deadly in Charlottesville over the weekend. One person was killed after being struck by a vehicle that rammed into a group of counterprotesters on Saturday. The suspect, James Alex Fields Jr.—who was spotted among white nationalist activists over the weekend—is being arraigned Monday on charges including murder. Separately, two state troopers died in a helicopter crash on Saturday while responding to the violence. 

The president has instead blamed “many sides” for the violence, while repeatedly disregarding multiple reporters’ questions on Saturday over whether he sought to condemn white nationalist groups that have expressed solidarity with Trump’s agenda. 

One group, however, has lavished praise on the president’s equivocal remarks: neo-Nazis themselves. “Really, really good. God bless him,” the white nationalist website the Daily Stormer said on Sunday. 

Since the events in Charlottesville, Ivanka Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have denounced the white supremacist groups. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday morning said the car attack on counterprotesters “met the definition of domestic terrorism in our statute.” 

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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