After aides, corporate America desert ex-US persident Donald Trump for 'inciting' Capitol riot

After the US Capitol violence, Trump faced a swift backlash from organisations across the board, ranging from social media giants, banks, universities, and even the Professional Golfers' Association

FP Staff January 23, 2021 07:34:30 IST
After aides, corporate America desert ex-US persident Donald Trump for 'inciting' Capitol riot

File image of Donald Trump

A large chunk of corporate America distanced itself from former US president Donald Trump and his Republican allies after a breach of the US Capitol on 6 January. Many of the biggest names in business — Goldman Sachs, Coca-Cola, Ford and Comcast — suspended political donations after the mob of Trump supporters ransacked the US Capitol in a deadly and violent spree.

Trump faced a swift backlash from organisations across the board, ranging from social media giants, banks, universities, and even the Professional Golfers' Association (PGA) of America. The ex-president was also impeached by the US House on the charge of "inciting" the riot.

A look at the companies that cut ties with the businessman-turned-politician:

Social media

Perhaps the most impactful action came from social media companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google.

Facebook and Instagram said they were going to silence his social media accounts till the end of his presidency, which was on 20 January, when 46th President Joe Biden was sworn in.

"We believe the risks of allowing President Trump to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great, so we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had said.

Trump, whose tweets invariably made news headlines for the four years of his presidency, had made Twitter his loudspeaker of choice. The platform permanently suspended Trump's account after the US Capitol violence, and said the move was being taken "due to the risk of further incitement of violence".

Before the permanent ban, the company had locked his Twitter accounts for 12 hours after he repeatedly posted false accusations about the integrity of the election.

Trump started using Twitter more than a decade ago when he embraced the platform's immediacy and scale to "rally loyalists, castigate enemies and spread false rumors", AP reported.

YouTube also imposed a week-long suspension on Trump’s channel amid concerns over "ongoing potential for violence".

The Google-owned platform said it had removed content that was uploaded on 12 January to the 'Donald J Trump' channel for inciting violence, although it was not immediately clear which videos in question were in violation.

“After careful review, and in light of concerns about the ongoing potential for violence, we removed new content uploaded to the Donald J Trump channel and issued a strike for violating our policies for inciting violence,” a YouTube statement said.

Snapchat also banned Trump and the online shopping platform Shopify pulled Trump stores off its platform.

The move from the social media companies, which many called long overdue, is also a reminder of the enormous power that social media platforms can wield when they choose.

Additionally, Apple and Google banned the Parler app, widely used by Trump's followers, for "failing to police violent and threatening content on its platform". Amazon also banned Parler from using its web hosting services.

GoFundMe, a popular fundraising site, said it will block people from raising money "to travel to a political event where there is a risk of violence".

The New York City and US Chamber of Commerce

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio announced on 13 January that the city government will terminate business contracts with Trump due to the Capitol violence.

"I’m here to announce that the city of New York is severing all contracts with the Trump Organisation,” de Blasio had said in an interview on MSNBC. De Blasio said the Trump Organisation earns about $17 million a year in profits from its contracts to run two ice skating rinks and a carousel in Central Park as well as a golf course in the Bronx.

The city can legally terminate a contract if the leadership of a company is engaged in criminal activity, the Democratic mayor said.

"Inciting an insurrection — let’s be very clear, let’s say the words again — inciting an insurrection against the United States government clearly constitutes criminal activity," he said.

Similarly, the US Chamber of Commerce threatened to withhold campaign funds from politicians who railed against approval of Biden's election victory on 13 January. However, it didn't identify which politicians, AP reported.

The chamber is among the most powerful business groups in Washington.

Chamber CEO Thomas Donohue said he didn't think the invasion was a “full coup” attempt but said the chamber didn't like the mob's conduct.

Al Jazeera quoted Donohue as condemning Trump "for encouraging his supporters to storm the Capitol, saying his actions were absolutely unacceptable and completely inexcusable".

He also accused Trump of "undermining democratic institutions and ideals".

Professional Golfers' Association of America

The PGA of America on 11 January cut ties with Trump when it voted to take the PGA Championship event away from his New Jersey golf course next year.

The vote was conducted days after the riot at the Capitol. This is the second time in just over five years the PGA of America removed one of its events from a Trump course.

PGA president Jim Richerson says the board voted to exercise its right to “terminate the agreement” with Trump National in Bedminster, New Jersey.

“We find ourselves in a political situation not of our making,” Seth Waugh, the CEO of the PGA of America, said in a telephone interview.

“We’re fiduciaries for our members, for the game, for our mission, and for our brand. And how do we best protect that? Our feeling was given the tragic events of Wednesday that we could no longer hold it at Bedminster. The damage could have been irreparable. The only real course of action was to leave.”

Financial groups

Banks like JPMorgan Chase & Co, Citigroup Inc, Morgan Stanley, BlackRock, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo suspended political donations.

Reports said that the Deutsche Bank, which is Trump’s main lender, decided to stop doing business with Trump and his company.

According to a Bloomberg report, Girl Scouts of Greater New York is also looking for a way to exit a long-term lease at 40 Wall St. while real estate brokerage Cushman & Wakefield Plc is no longer work with the former president’s business.

In another report, Bloomberg said, "BankUnited Inc.’s Florida-based lender is the latest financial firm that said it has stopped working with former U.S. President Donald Trump."

Al Jazeera reported that Goldman Sachs Group Inc was "likely to implement a policy that blocks donations to the lawmakers who opposed certifying Biden’s win".

"AT&T, Amazon, Comcast, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Ford, Best Buy and Marriott International, Walmart, Airbnb, Dow, and Walt Disney Co said their political action committees had suspended all contributions to any member of Congress who voted against the certification of the presidential election results. Disney called the siege at the Capitol a 'direct assault on one of our country’s most revered tenets: the peaceful transition of power'," Washington Post reported.

Universities

Lehigh University's board on 12 January stripped Trump of an honorary degree it granted to him more than three decades ago.

The executive committee of the private university in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, moved to rescind the honour a day after a violent mob stormed the US Capitol on Wednesday, shortly after Trump made a speech in the area.

The Lehigh Board of Trustees affirmed that decision and issued a brief public statement that did not explain its reasoning for the decision.

The board of Wagner College in Staten Island, New York, also rescinded an honorary degree it had awarded to Trump in 2004.

Lehigh faculty three years ago voted overwhelmingly to ask the board to take back the degree, but the trustees declined to do so at that time.

Trump was awarded the honour in 1988 when he was Lehigh's graduation speaker.

 

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