(Updated 11:35, ET, with comments from RILA, NRF.)
Business groups forcefully condemned President Donald Trump for stoking supporters to attack the U.S. Capitol Wednesday and lawmakers for going along with the president’s debunked conspiracy claims about election fraud by trying to block certification of the Electoral College results.
National Association of Manufacturers CEO Jay Timmons, a staunch supporter of Trump policies, issued a stunning rebuke of the president Wednesday and called for him to be removed from office. The Retail Leaders Industry Association also forcefully denounced conspiracy theories about the election and called yesterday’s events sedition.
“Armed violent protestors who support the baseless claim by outgoing President Trump that he somehow won an election that he overwhelmingly lost have stormed the U.S. Capitol today, attacking police officers and first responders, because Trump refused to accept defeat in a free and fair election. Throughout this whole disgusting episode, Trump has been cheered on by members of his own party, adding fuel to the distrust that has inflamed 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. Anyone indulging conspiracy theories to raise campaign dollars is complicit. Vice President Pence, who was evacuated from the Capitol, should seriously consider working with the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to preserve democracy,” the statement said.
Under the 25th Amendment, if a majority of the Cabinet and other principal executive branch officers declare the president unfit for office, the vice president temporarily becomes acting president, with Congress ultimately determining whether the removal can go forward if there is a challenge.
The National Association of Manufacturers has often backed the president during his presidency, hosting him for a speech in 2017, hailing his tax reform moves and praising his trade decisions, according to USA Today. NAM favored the administration’s action against China’s trade practices and for pushing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement, but has also called for a more balanced immigration policy than Trump pursued.
Vice President Mike Pence spoke to NAM’s 2020 winter board of directors meeting last February.
“The events at the US Capitol today were nothing less than an attack on our democracy. At a time when our elected officials were meant to perform a routine yet powerfully symbolic function of the peaceful transfer of power, they were met with a violent mob, incited by the President of the United States and his agents,” said Brian Dodge, president of the Retail Leaders Industry Association, in a statement.
“It is clear our nation has a long road ahead to repair the division that manifested itself today in our nation’s Capital, but it starts with acknowledging that free and fair elections must be respected, regardless of the outcome. It’s time for men and women of goodwill in government to denounce the conspiracy theories and cancerous rhetoric employed by those cravenly attempting to capitalize on political chaos. All those trafficking in sedition must be rebuked,” he said.
On Monday, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donahue foreshadowed the potential for violence at a rally in Washington organized by Trump to complain that he was cheated out of a second term despite the lack of credible evidence of any widespread election irregularities. He said lawmakers who planned to object to the certified results from several states during Wednesday’s official count of the electoral votes were only furthering division in the country to score political points.
“The United States of America faces enormous challenges that not only require an orderly transition of administrations, but the focus of the incoming Biden administration and the new Congress, and cooperation across party lines. We urge Congress to fulfill its responsibility in counting the electoral votes, the Trump administration to facilitate an orderly transition for the incoming Biden administration, and all of our elected officials to devote their energies to combatting the pandemic and supporting our economic recovery,” he said in a statement.
“In the coming days, thousands of Americans are expected to gather to voice their views. This is a fundamental right and we urge respect for all those who exercise their constitutional rights. Small businesses, local communities and our nation pay a steep price when demonstrations turn violent and destructive, so it is critical that these gatherings be peaceful,” Donahue said.
The Chamber of Commerce has traditionally supported Democrats in congressional races, but last fall endorsed more than 30 Democrats for the House — drawing fire from Trump and Republican leaders, The Wall Street Journal reported in October. The Chamber also strongly supported the large tax cut package in 2017 that Trump happily signed.
The Business Roundtable, an association of the nation’s leading chief executives, also called on the president and other officials to immediately facilitate the peaceful transition of power to Biden, saying the attack on the Capitol “is the result of unlawful efforts to overturn the legitimate results of a democratic election. The country deserves better.”
The National Retail Federation said, “Today’s riots are repugnant and fly in the face of the most basic tenets of our constitution, and the Administration must move quickly to provide the leadership that will end this affront to our democracy.”
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, in a piece published Wednesday before the chaos began, called on principled Republicans to break with the “Trump cult” and rebuild a new Republican Party, adding that those who try to nullify the election results should be forever shunned.
“Shareholders of every major U.S. corporation should make sure that these companies’ political action committees are barred from making campaign contributions to anyone who participates in Wednesday’s coup attempt,” he wrote.