Intel CEO becomes third to quit Trump's manufacturing council

Merck & Co. CEO Ken Frazier and U.S. President Donald Trump

The number of manufacturing council members who have quit following US President Donald Trump's remarks about white supremacists has risen to six after a key American labour leader said he was stepping down. Within minutes, Trump attacked Frazier, who is African American, for his decision and what the president called Merck's "ripoff drug prices".

Frazier's message was clear: "America's leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy".

The top boss of Merck & Co Incorporation - one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies - was one of the first to react to Trump's failure to condemn the white nationalists for Saturday's outbreak of violence in Charlottesville, which left one dead and more than a dozen injured. One woman died and at least 19 people were injured after a driver with ties to white supremacists rammed his auto into counterprotesters.

Merck chief executive Kenneth Frazier was the first to depart the council Monday, followed by Intel Corp.

The president denied that his original statement about the violence in Virginia on Saturday - saying "many" sides were to blame, rather than hate groups - was the cause of the departures.

Mr. Trump's initial response was to say he condemned the "egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides". Trump and Bro also paid tribute to a pair of Virginia state troopers who died in a helicopter crash while patrolling the demonstrations in Charlottesville. Just 12% said they expected it to hurt.

"It's certainly a sign that Trump's more controversial stuff isn't playing well with companies selling to middle America", said Goolsbee, now a professor at the University of Chicago.

"I am appreciative of the opportunity to have served, but have chose to step down from the council", Plank said.

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".

Frazier's statement - along with those of scores of others, including many Republicans - might have even had an effect on Trump's decision, later Monday, to get more specific about what happened in Charlottesville. And General Electric said in a statement that it had "no tolerance for hate, bigotry or racism" while adding that Jeff Immelt, the company's chairman and recently retired chief executive, would also continue to advise the president.

Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank and Intel CEO Bryan Krzanich have withdrawn from the American Manufacturing Council. A new White House statement on Sunday explicitly denounced the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi groups, but it was attributed to an unnamed spokesperson and not the president himself. "You put your name and your company's name in the spotlight, and people who don't like what you did can find ways to try to retaliate".

One other member, Dell, said there was "no change" in how it is "engaging with the Trump administration" on policy issues that affect the company.

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