Another view: Merck CEO shows the power of corporate conscience

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I am resigning from the President's American Manufacturing Council. "Grandstanders should not have gone on".

On Monday night, the CEOs of Under Armour and Intel followed Frazier and quit Trump's manufacturing council. "However, Under Armour engages in innovation and sports, not politics".

Merck and Co.'s Kenneth Frazier, Under Armour Inc.'s Kevin Plank and Intel Corp.'s Brian Krzanich have resigned from U.S. President Donald Trump's American Manufacturing Council following Trump's response to the racially-charged weekend violence at a rally of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The other big pharmaceutical executive on Trump's council, Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky, has yet to comment publicly about whether he will remain in the group.

Campbell Soup CEO Denise Morrison stated, "Racism and murder are unequivocally reprehensible and are not morally equivalent to anything else that happened in Charlottesville" - referring to Trump's much criticized response to the white supremacist rally that resulted in the death of a counterprotester over the weekend.

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a Yale School of Management professor who leads the university's annual CEO summit, said business leaders are stepping up as trust in public officials declines.

Critics, including Republicans, said Trump gave cover to white supremacists and Nazis who organized the Charlottesville event to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, and came spoiling for a fight.

CEOs began tendering their resignations from White House councils after Trump's first comments on Saturday after the violence.

Trump swiftly hit back at Frazier on Twitter, saying the CEO would now "have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!".

Another view: Merck CEO shows the power of corporate conscience
Another view: Merck CEO shows the power of corporate conscience

On Sunday, however, the White House added: "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".

Mr Musk has also left the manufacturing council. "We should honor - not attack - those who have stood up for equality and other cherished American values".

The chief executive wrote a statement Wednesday announcing that he no longer believes serving on the president's council is "an effective vehicle" for his firm to "advance" their mission of promoting "sustainability, diversity and inclusion".

Unilever CEO Paul Polman wrote on Twitter, "Thanks @Merck Ken Frazier for strong leadership to stand up for the moral values that made this country what it is".

By then nearly two days had passed since the president's first remarks on Charlottesville - and some of the nation's most prominent business leaders had filled the gap with denunciations of racism.

"Presidential commissions are often ceremonial", said Mark Cohen, director of retail studies at Columbia University. At first, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk defended his roles on Trump's manufacturing and economic advisory councils.

The group held one White House meeting on February 3, in which Trump promised "exciting times ahead" and that this administration was "coming out with a tax bill soon and a healthcare bill even sooner".

Among those who have said they will stay on, some have argued that it is valuable to have a seat at the table as the government shapes policy that could affect their companies and employees. Trump himself has stayed out of sight, though he traveled from NY to his golf club in New Jersey for the night.

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Calvo had the president on speaker phone, and posted a video of the exchange to his Facebook page . The North responded with a warning that it was considering an attack on the USA territory of Guam.