Pennsylvania business leaders joined national business leaders and some Wall Street CEOs in blaming President Trump for the mob attack on the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.
The Capitol attack “effectively ended the Trump presidency,” said Susan Jacobson, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia. “This attack is bad for democracy, the country, and making progress together.”
The National Association of Manufacturers on Wednesday said Vice President Mike Pence should consider invoking the 25th Amendment, under which he and a majority of Trump’s cabinet members could begin a process to remove Trump from office. NAM’s board includes leaders of GE, ExxonMobil, Dow Chemical, Philadelphia-based FMC, Exton-based Saint-Gobain North America and other big industrial concerns.
The Business Roundtable, a Washington organization composed of the top executives of many of the nation’s largest companies, also issued a statement critical of the mob action.
“The chaos unfolding in the nation’s capital is the result of unlawful efforts to overturn the legitimate results of a democratic election,” it read. “The country deserves better.” Locally the group includds Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, Vanguard Group CEO Mortimer “Tim” Buckley, Johnson & Johnson boss Alex Gorsky, and Edward L. Breen of DuPont Co., along with other national figures such as Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Tim Cook of Apple and Mary Barra of General Motors.
The group also “calls on the president and all relevant officials to put an end to the chaos and to facilitate the peaceful transition of power.”
In Pennsylvania, Gene Barr, president and chief executive of the 10,000-member Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, the state’s biggest business group, spoke out vigorously in an interview.
“What happened was unacceptable, it was violent, it was an assault on democracy,” Barr said Thursday.
He also said he had been “appalled” to see Confederate flags waved inside the Capitol, “which they never reached in the Civil War.”
As for Trump, Barr said, “I did not see the appropriate tone out of this president, given the violence and the assaults that occurred yesterday — in the U.S. Capitol.”
Business people are facing facts, Barr added: “Joe Biden will be the president. Kamala Harris will be the vice president.
“When anyone asks if the election was ‘stolen’, I say, ‘The Democrats would have to be really bad thieves, given the success Republicans had taking two statewide offices from them, and keeping the state House and Senate, and not losing any congressional races.”
What of the apparent split between the president’s most fervent supporters and business Republicans? “The president is more of a populist, than a Republican,” the Chamber leader said, agreeing that Trump’s support for cheap money, record deficits, strict immigration curbs, import taxes (tariffs), and cash handouts were not in line with the traditional business agenda, though business welcomed Trump’s tax cuts and conservative judges.
Wall Street executives, including former Trump allies, have also been critical of his failure to acknowledge what is obvious to them: he is beaten.
“The insurrection that followed the president’s remarks [Wednesday] is appalling and an affront to the democratic values we hold dear as Americans,” said Steve Schwarzman, one of Trump’s top donors and an Abington native who heads Blackstone, one of the largest private-equity managers and a major money manager for Pennsylvania’s state pension funds. “The outcome of the election is very clear and there must be a peaceful transition of power.”
“We are better than this. Our elected leaders have a responsibility to call for an end to the violence, accept the results,” and “support the peaceful transition of power,” said Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan, the largest U.S. bank, which has more than 10,000 employees in the Philadelphia region.
Larry Fink, chief executive of BlackRock, the largest U.S. private money manager, with local operations in Wilmington and Princeton, called the Capitol attack “an assault on our nation, our democracy, and the will of the American people.”
Hedge fund billionaire Bill Ackman, who owns large stakes in Starbucks, Chipotle, Lowe’s, Fannie Mae, and other familiar companies, called on Trump to step down before Biden’s inauguration Jan. 20
“Donald Trump, it is time for you to resign and apologize to all Americans,” Ackman wrote in a social-media post. While once a Trump booster, Ackman has grown more critical of the president in recent months.
In a message to employees, Comcast chief executive and chairman Brian L. Roberts said he “watched with deep sadness and alarm yesterday as chaos and lawlessness unfolded at the United States Capitol.”
Democratic values “must be upheld,” he added, “and I hope that we can move forward together as a nation to build a better future.”
Vanguard Group, issued a similar statement. “As a company, we condemn these acts of violence and any threat to our democratic process,” the company said, without mentioning the President. “Like all other Americans, we stood in shock and horror watching the inconceivable events at our nation’s capital. We are deeply troubled by the unlawful and violent actions of those who sought to interrupt the democratic process.”
Comcast, the cable TV giant that is among Philadelphia’s top employers, owns NBCUniversal, Cable Communications, Dreamworks Animation, Comcast Spectacor, and Sky Group in Europe, among other entities. President Donald Trump has routinely denounced the firm and the coverage of him by its news channels. Vanguard, based in Malvern in Chester County, manages $6 trillion in assets and is the world’s largest provider of mutual funds.
Unlike some others in the business world, the Comcast and Vanguard bosses did not identify Trump in the statements or explicitly criticize him.
Few of the Fortune 500 leaders so publicly challenged the President earlier in his term. In 2017, however, after Trump failed to criticize white supremacists who rallied in Charlottesville, Va., Merck chief executive Kenneth Frazier resigned from the President’s American Manufacturing Council.
“America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal,” Frazier said at the time.