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Former McDonald's CEO: Trump's actions 'despicable' following weekend of violence

  • Former McDonald's CEO Ed Rensi tells CNBC that Trump's slow reaction to condemn a deadly white supremacist march meant he "lost a bit of a fan in me."
  • He also praises Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier's decision to leave a manufacturing council as a result.
  • Rensi says if he were on the council, he would have confronted Trump face to face and resigned.
  • The country should come together and "celebrate our diversity, celebrate our differences and celebrate the wonderfulness that comes out of all that," he says.

Former McDonald's CEO Ed Rensi had harsh words Monday for President Donald Trump following a violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and what Rensi called the president's "unacceptable" response.

Rensi said Trump's slow reaction to condemn the march meant he "lost a bit of a fan in me." He also said Trump's tweet attacking Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier was "despicable."

Frazier, the only African-American CEO of a major pharmaceutical company, resigned Monday morning from the president's American Manufacturing Council.

"As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism," Frazier wrote in a tweet.

Trump responded on Twitter, saying the drug executive would have more time to "LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!" now that he was no longer a part of the advisory group.

In an interview on CNBC's "Squawk Alley" before Trump explicitly denounced white supremacists and the "racist" violence, Rensi praised Frazier's decision to leave. He said if he were on the council, he would have confronted Trump face to face and resigned, saying, "he would have a battle every day with me."

"Our job as CEOs is to return great value to the shareholders and stakeholders of our companies, but that involves social conscience," Rensi said. "We got to do the right thing for the right reasons."

Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, was one of the few current executives who had words of support for Frazier and his decision to resign by midday Monday. He thanked Frazier for his "strong leadership."

Rensi warned Trump will become "irrelevant" if he doesn't change his ways and embrace leading, rather than strategizing as if this were campaign stumping.

"The president of the United States works for us and we ought to challenge him," Rensi said.

He also said the country should come together and "celebrate our diversity, celebrate our differences and celebrate the wonderfulness that comes out of all that."

Drawing from a quote from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Rensi said, "The content of your character counts, not just the color of your skin."