The National Association of Manufacturers, one of the most influential business groups in the US, called on Vice President Mike Pence Wednesday to consider removing President Donald Trump from office.
The statement from Republican-leaning NAM, the nation’s largest manufacturing association, marks perhaps the strongest political statement by a major business group in modern history. And it puts an exclamation point on the breakup between the business community and the self-styled CEO president.
Pence “should seriously consider working with the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to preserve democracy,” NAM CEO Jay Timmons, a former Republican political operative, said in the statement.
The comments show just how appalled Corporate America is over the ongoing attack on democracy. NAM, founded in 1895, is one of the oldest and most powerful business groups in the nation, representing small and large manufacturers in all 50 states.
The call comes after Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol, interrupting the joint session of Congress counting Electoral College votes. Pence was evacuated during the chaos.
“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 said. He added, “This is not law and order. This is chaos. It is mob rule. It is dangerous. This is sedition and it should be treated as such.”
Business community is ‘horrified’
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, one of America’s top business leaders, also condemned the violence in Washington.
“This is not who we are as a people or a country. We are better than this,” Dimon said in a statement. “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.”
Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, founder of Yale University’s Chief Executive Leadership Institute, said the condemnation from NAM is unprecedented.
“Everyone in the business community is horrified,” Sonnenfeld told CNN Business.
Sonnenfeld agreed with NAM’s call for Pence and the Cabinet to consider the 25th Amendment. “The business community will give them back-up,” he said.
Manufacturing group championed the Trump agenda
The call by NAM is even more startling because the advocacy group is staunchly pro-business and was a vocal supporter of Trump, cheering the president’s tax cuts, deregulation and efforts to revive manufacturing.
In 2018, Republican Congressman Kevin Brady, then chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said the Trump tax cuts wouldn’t have been possible without the support of NAM and Timmons, who has been CEO since 2011.
Before joining NAM, Timmons served as the chief of staff to Republican Senator George Allen of Virginia, and executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, according to his bio.
During the 2020 election cycle, NAM contributed $165,000 to Republican Congressional candidates, according to OpenSecrets. That marked 72% of the group’s contributions.
Chamber of Commerce: Congress must meet tonight
In a similar vein, the Business Roundtable, whose CEO members lead companies that employ nearly 19 million people, called on Trump and other officials to “put an end to the chaos and to facilitate the peaceful transition of power.”
“The chaos unfolding in the nation’s capital is the result of unlawful efforts to overturn the legitimate results of a democratic election,” the Business Roundtable said in a statement.
The US Chamber of Commerce CEO Thomas Donohue called on Congress to gather “this evening to conclude their Constitutional responsibility to accept the report of the Electoral College.”
Other leaders across Wall Street and Corporate America similarly condemned the violence in Washington and offered hope for calm ahead.
GM CEO Mary Barra called for unity and said the violence at the US Capitol “does not reflect who we are as a nation.”
BlackRock CEO Larry Fink decried the storming of the Capitol as an “assault on our nation, our democracy and the will of the American people.” Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf called for an “immediate end to this violence” and for a peaceful transition of power to President-elect Biden.
IBM CEO Arvind Krishna said in a tweet that the company “condemns today’s unprecedented lawlessness and we call for it to end immediately.” The condemnation comes a day after IBM announced the hiring of Gary Cohn, Trump’s former senior economic adviser.
Michael Corbat, the CEO of Citigroup, said in a statement that he is “disgusted” by those who stormed the US Capitol.
“While these scenes are very difficult to watch,” Corbat said, “I have faith in our democratic process and know that the important work of Congress will continue and that people will be held accountable for their actions.”
– American Bankers Association: “This is a dark day for our democracy. The violence playing out on Capitol Hill and in the streets of Washington is reprehensible and should shock and sadden all of us. Our nation is better than this.”
– Tim Cook, CEO of Apple: “Today marks a sad and shameful chapter in our nation’s history. Those responsible for this insurrection should be held to account, and we must complete the transition to President-elect Biden’s administration. It’s especially when they are challenged that our ideals matter most.”
– Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America: “Today’s appalling events in our nation’s capital underscore the urgent need for all American’s to unite behind one of our most cherished principles: the peaceful transfer of power that has happened without interruption since our country’s founding. We must move forward together peacefully, respectfully and with a singular, shared focus on our American ideals.”
– Chuck Robbins, CEO of Cisco: “What is happening in our nation’s capital is appalling and saddening. The United States has long served as a beacon of democracy, and today we are reminded of both its importance and fragility. @Cisco condemns the violence we have witnessed today & call for it to end immediately.
“It’s time to recognize the legitimate democratic process, ensure a peaceful transition of power and come back together as one nation.”
– Guy Rosen, Facebook VP, Integrity, and Monika Bickert, Facebook VP, Global Policy Management: “Let us speak for the leadership team in saying what so many of us are feeling. We are appalled by the violence at the Capitol today. We are treating these events as an emergency. Our Elections Operations Center has already been active in anticipation of the Georgia elections and the vote by Congress to certify the election, and we are monitoring activity on our platform in real time.”
– Jim Farley, CEO of Ford: “The Ford Motor Company condemns the violent and antidemocratic actions today. These were destructive acts against our shared principles and beliefs of a peaceful transition of power. We commit to working together, with respect and empathy, to uphold core American values…”
– David M. Solomon, Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs: “For years, our democracy has built a reservoir of goodwill around the world that brings important benefits for our citizens. Recently, we have squandered that goodwill at an alarming pace, and today’s attack on the U.S. Capitol does further damage. It’s time for all Americans to come together and move forward with a peaceful transition of power. We have to begin reinvesting in our democracy and rebuilding the institutions that have made America an exceptional nation.”
– Alfred Kelly, Jr., Chairman and CEO of Visa: “I am shocked and saddened by what I’ve seen today. We at Visa stand 100% behind the results of the election and the collective voices of the citizens of this country. We are fully supportive of a smooth transition of power which has been the case for almost two and a half centuries. In this time of intense anxiety for our country and the world, I continue to have tremendous faith in the resilience of our United States institutions.”