Corporate America Reacts to Capitol Building Violence

By April Hall
January 10, 2021

After the attack on the U.S. Capitol building, some business organizations and business leaders were quick to react.  The Business Roundtable, an association of about 200 chief executive officers of large American corporations, released a statement Thursday.

“The chaos unfolding in the nation’s capital is the result of unlawful efforts to overturn the legitimate results of a democratic election,” the statement read. “The country deserves better. Business Roundtable calls on the President and all relevant officials to put an end to the chaos and to facilitate the peaceful transition of power.”

“After the unconscionable and tragic events we witnessed,” it continued, “it could not be clearer that it is time for the nation and lawmakers to unite around President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris. It is only together that we can move forward to successfully confront our nation’s many challenges, chief among them ending the pandemic and ensuring a safe and rapid economic recovery.”

Some members of the Roundtable also weighed in individually, including JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon in a separate statement and Salesforce’s Marc Benioff with a tweet.

“I strongly condemn the violence in our nation’s capital,” Dimon said in the statement. “This is not who we are as a people or a country. We are better than this. Our elected leaders have a responsibility to call for an end to the violence, accept the results, and, as our democracy has for hundreds of years, support the peaceful transition of power. Now is the time to come together to strengthen our exceptional union.”

“Our leaders must call for peace and unity now,” Benioff tweeted during the riot. “There is no room for violence in our democracy.  May the One who brings peace bring peace to our country.”

Social media giants Facebook and Twitter responded by shutting down Trump’s accounts.

“Over the last several years, we have allowed President Trump to use our platform consistent with our own rules, at times removing content or labeling his posts when they violate our policies,” Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and CEO wrote on his blog. “We did this because we believe that the public has a right to the broadest possible access to political speech, even controversial speech. But the current context is now fundamentally different, involving use of our platform to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government.

“We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great. Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.”

Twitter permanently suspended the President’s personal twitter account, from which he has sent more than 25,000 tweets since becoming president, according to CNN.

“After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” according to a Twitter statement.

The company said the tweets were specifically a violation of their policy against “glorification of violence.”

Earlier in his tenure, Trump lost the support of some corporate CEOs after racially motivated riots in Charlottesville, Va. (See our earlier stories CEOs Take on POTUS: What's the board's role?; A Social-Risk Tipping Point?)

Jay Timmons, the president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), released a statement “in response to large groups of armed Trump adherents who have violently stormed the U.S. Capitol building as members of Congress meet to count the electoral votes.”

“Throughout this whole disgusting episode, Trump has been cheered on by members of his own party, adding fuel to the distrust that has enflamed violent anger. This is not law and order. This is chaos. It is mob rule. It is dangerous. This is sedition and should be treated as such. 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.”

Timmons called on Vice President Mike Pence to consider using the 25th amendment that allows for the removal of the president as unable to execute his duties.

“This is not the vision of America that manufacturers believe in and work so hard to defend. Across America today, millions of manufacturing workers are helping our nation fight the deadly pandemic that has already taken hundreds of thousands of lives. We are trying to rebuild an economy and save and rebuild lives. But none of that will matter if our leaders refuse to fend off this attack on America and our democracy — because our very system of government, which underpins our very way of life, will crumble.”

The NAM statement represents a shift in relationship the organization had with the president which included a meeting in March 2017 when, according to The Washington Post, Timmons said manufacturers increasingly felt the country was on the right track.

“And that’s because of the focus on taxes, regulations, infrastructure investment,” The Post reported Timmons said in the meeting. “We appreciate your commitment to investment in job creation and manufacturing. And we’re going to deliver.”

This relationship may be why Thursday’s statement was not universally endorsed by all of the organization’s members.

The president of a Dayton, Ohio, metal fabrication supplier, Steve Straub, sent The Post an email that said he didn’t support the statement. “There are other board members who feel the same way,” he said. He continued displaying a photo of himself alongside Trump on his company website.