Business leaders condemn violence on Capitol Hill: ‘This is sedition’

By Emily Flitter, Gillian Friedman, Kellen Browning and David Gelles

Business groups and leaders of large corporations condemned the violence on Capitol Hill that disrupted efforts to certify the election of President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday.

Hours after supporters of President Donald Trump forced lawmakers from the floors of the Senate and House of Representatives, the Business Roundtable, a group of CEOs from some of the nation’s largest companies, called on the president and other officials to “put an end to the chaos and 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 organization posted on Twitter.

The National Association of Manufacturers, one of the country’s largest lobbying groups, suggested that Vice President Mike Pence should consider invoking a provision of the 25th Amendment that allows members of the president’s Cabinet to temporarily remove him from power.

“Anyone indulging conspiracy theories to raise campaign dollars is complicit,” the association said. “Vice President Pence, who was evacuated from the Capitol, should seriously consider working with the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to preserve democracy.”

“This is sedition,” the group said of the actions of the mob, and said Trump had incited the violence.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also denounced the violence.

“The attacks against our nation’s Capitol building and our democracy must end now,” Thomas Donohue, the chamber’s CEO, said in a statement. “The Congress of the United States must gather again this evening to conclude their constitutional responsibility to accept the report of the Electoral College.”

“Today’s riots are repugnant and fly in the face of the most basic tenets of our Constitution,” said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association.

Other business leaders spoke out individually, although many avoided calling out the president and other politicians by name. “I strongly condemn the violence in our nation’s capital,” Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

“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,” he said. “Now is the time to come together to strengthen our exceptional union.”

The CEO of Wells Fargo, Charles Scharf, called on leaders to “come together to address the divisions in our society.”

“We must embark on the peaceful transition of power to President-elect Biden,” he said.

Michael Corbat, CEO of Citigroup, said he was “disgusted by the actions of those who have stormed the U.S. Capitol in an effort to disrupt the certification of the Electoral College.”

The CEO of Bank of America, Brian Moynihan, called the events “appalling” and said they “underscore the urgent need for all Americans to unite behind one of our most cherished principles: the peaceful transfer of power.”

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, said the events were “shocking and scary for all of us” in an email to employees that was obtained by The New York Times.

“The lawlessness and violence occurring on Capitol Hill today is the antithesis of democracy and we strongly condemn it,” Pichai said.

Tim Ryan, CEO of the accounting firm PwC, formerly known as PricewaterhouseCoopers, was addressing staff during a previously planned webcast as the Capitol was stormed, prompting him to tell employees what was happening.

“Our Capitol building has been stormed by protesters that are resisting our democratic process and are threatening violence,” Ryan said, according to the company. “I think it is safe to say that this is a surreal day that will go down in our country’s history, and it is devastating to watch these events unfold right before our eyes.”

Dan Schulman, president and CEO of PayPal, called the events “shocking and disturbing” and said they violated “the very foundation of our democracy.”

Arvind Krishna, IBM’s chairman and CEO, posted on Twitter: “IBM condemns today’s unprecedented lawlessness and we call for it to end immediately.”

Labor unions also denounced the violence.

Mary Kay Henry, head of the Service Employees International Union, said the violence was about “wielding the power of whiteness to threaten what we hold dear — the chance for families of every race to thrive.”

Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, posting on Twitter, called the actions an “attempted coup.”

“We are witnessing one of the greatest assaults on our democracy since the Civil War,” he said.

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