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Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Kenneth Frazier, CEO of the pharmaceuticals company Merck, was the first CEO to leave one of President Trump's business advisory councils last August after the president made divisive remarks following the white nationalist Charlottesville protests. Now, he's explaining why he abandoned Trump's council in a new interview with the New York Times:

“In this case, we were not talking about politics. We were talking about the basic values of the country. ... I think words have consequences and I think actions have consequences. I just felt that as a matter of my own personal conscience, I could not remain.”

Why it matters: The NYT interview is the first time Frazier has spoken publicly about this situation and it brings Trump's controversial Charlottesville comments back to light in a time when he's facing allegations from multiple women about past affairs.

More from Frazier:

  • “It was my view that to not take a stand on this would be viewed as a tacit endorsement of what had happened and what was said,” he told NYT.
  • He's the grandson of a man who was born into slavery. At the time he left the business council, he tweeted from Merck's account: “I feel a responsibility to take a stand against extremism,” he wrote on Merck’s Twitter account at the time.
  • “In that moment, the president’s response was one that I felt was not in concordance with my views," Frazier told NYT. "And I didn’t think they were in concordance with the views that we claim to hold as a country.”

One more thing: Charlottesville wasn't the only Trump moment Frazier disagreed with. “There were things that happened earlier on in this administration that I didn’t necessarily agree with, about immigration and climate change, but I didn’t think that it was my role to actually speak out on those issues,” he told NYT. “There’s a process for deciding how we address those issues as a country. This is a democracy.”

Go deeper

54 mins ago - Health

Pfizer says COVID vaccine over 90% effective in kids

A health care worker preparing a Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine dose in New York City on Oct. 21. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said their COVID-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective at protecting children between the ages of 5 and 11 from symptomatic infections from the virus, according to a study posted online by the Food and Drug Administration Friday.

Why it matters: Pfizer is seeking an emergency use authorization to vaccinate children — one of the last groups of Americans still largely ineligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine.

Changing the inflation conversation

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Inflation looks like it’ll run hot for longer than plenty of smart people thought it would. The conversation over just how much more Americans will have to pay for their stuff has taken on a new intensity, as supply problems show few signs of fading.

Why it matters: The rate of price growth has remained consistently strong in recent months — a time that some thought would bring cooling prices after an initial reopening spike. What goes on with prices will influence the decisions made by Congress, the Biden Administration, and the Federal Reserve.

The biggest headline from Biden's town hall

President Biden greets attendees during a commercial break in Baltimore last night. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

What matters from President Biden's town hall with CNN's Anderson Cooper at Baltimore Center Stage on Thursday:

The biggest headline: Biden is jettisoning the corporate tax increases that White House officials have insisted, for the past 10 months, are wildly popular across the country. He admitted he doesn't have the votes.