A group representing U.S. manufacturers said Vice President Mike Pence should consider moving to eject President Donald Trump from office. A lobby representing corporate executives called on Trump himself to end the chaos in the nation’s capital. Bank CEOs were bluntly angry.
The storming of the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters on Wednesday, after the president urged a larger group of protesters to march on Congress, spurred an outpouring of unusually emotional condemnations from influential business leaders who had long been supportive of the president and his party.
National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons, a Republican who once enjoyed a close if uneasy relationship with Trump, raised the the specter of the 25th Amendment, which allows the vice president and Cabinet to declare the president unfit to discharge his duties and assume power.
“This is sedition and should be treated as such,” Timmons said in a written statement. “The outgoing president incited violence in an attempt to retain power, and any elected leader defending him is violating their oath to the Constitution and rejecting democracy in favor of anarchy.”
The blunt statement stood out even on a day in which Washington was consumed by fear and heartbreak as a violent mob stormed the Capitol.
“Vice President Pence, who was evacuated from the Capitol, should seriously consider working with the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to preserve democracy,” Timmons said.
Other business groups, many of whom had good relationships with the White House and the Trump administration, also weighed in Wednesday afternoon, at times abandoning their veneers of diplomacy and typically measured corporate rhetoric. They condemned the actions of Trump’s supporters, who interrupted the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College win, forced lawmakers to evacuate their chambers and threw the Hill into panic.
“I am disgusted by the actions of those who have stormed the U.S. Capitol,” Citi CEO Michael Corbat wrote. “I have faith in our democratic process and know that the important work of Congress will continue.”
Corbat’s sentiments were echoed by JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf. IBM CEO Arvind Krishna called for an end to the “unprecedented lawlessness.”
Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon mourned the broader damage done to America’s “reservoir of goodwill“ globally. “Recently, we have squandered that goodwill at an alarming pace, and today’s attack on the U.S. Capitol does further damage,” Solomon wrote.
David Sampson, president and CEO of the American Property Casualty Insurance Association, without naming Trump, leveled blame at him.
“Words matter and when leaders call for violence, violence ensues,” Sampson said. “Make no mistake, what we witnessed this afternoon was an attack on our democratic institutions.”
National Association of Realtors President Charlie Oppler said he was in disbelief. “America’s largest trade association stands with our democracy and our nation’s centuries-old observance of peaceful protests and the peaceful transfer of power. What happened today at the U.S. Capitol was an assault on both.”
American Gas Association President and CEO Karen Harbert called the violence “a horrible and dangerous affront to democracy in our nation.”
At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which sits within view of the White House, CEO Tom Donohue called for the “attacks” against the Capitol building to end. Rob Nichols, head of the American Bankers Association, called it “a dark day for our democracy.” Structured Finance Association CEO Michael Bright called it a “display of cowardice.”
The American Petroleum Institute, U.S. Travel Association, the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions, and International Franchise Associations — groups that speak in Washington on behalf of broad segments of the American economy — also condemned the day’s violence.
The business community’s outrage was the final breaking point in a relationship with a president that had begun his term waging rhetorical wars on companies that refused to his bidding. The two sides eventually settled into an apprehensive truce, with the Trump administration rolling back regulations even as it upended trade and foreign policy, at times roiling markets.
The Business Roundtable, which represents chief executives of many of the nation’s largest businesses, called on Trump to put an end to the unrest.
“The chaos unfolding in the nation’s capital is the result of unlawful efforts to overturn the legitimate results of a democratic election,” the group wrote. “The country deserves better.”