Business Leaders React to Violence in Washington, D.C.

Chaos in nation's capital prompts condemnation of riots, calls for peaceful transition of power
Photograph: Shutterstock

Mob action at the U.S. Capitol building by supporters of President Donald Trump on Jan. 6 has drawn sharp condemnation from business groups whose members include some of the country's biggest retailers and industrial producers.

The 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," National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement in the wake of the violence in Washington, D.C.

"Our retailers, the millions of associates they employ and the communities they serve across the country want and need our elected officials to focus on the priorities that ensure faith in our government through stability," Shay said. Washington, D.C.-based NRF is the world's largest retail trade association.  

Business Roundtable, whose chairman is Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon, issued a statement Jan. 6 calling for Trump and "all relevant officials" to end chaos in the nation's capital and facilitate a peaceful transition of power. The events were "the result of unlawful efforts to overturn the legitimate results of a democratic election," the statement read.

On Jan. 7, the group, whose other members in the grocery retail space are Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos and Target Corp. CEO Brian Cornell, issued a second statement calling elected officials' claims of a fraudulent presidential election "a danger to our democracy, our society and our economy."

"After the unconscionable and tragic events we witnessed, it could not be clearer that it is time for the nation and lawmakers to unite around President-elect [Joe] Biden and Vice President-elect [Kamala] Harris," read the second statement, issued upon the conclusion of Congress' electoral-vote-counting session. The statement also noted: "While our ballots may have been divided, our support for the democratic process and the peaceful transition of power must be unequivocal."

Kroger Co. Chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen wrote in a personal LinkedIn post that he was "sad and dismayed" by events at the Capitol, adding, "We're all Americans first and, by working together toward the common good, we can ensure brighter days ahead."

Among the earliest and most forceful denunciations of the storming of the Capitol building came from the National Association of Manufacturers, whose president and CEO, Jay Timmons, served from 2002 to 2004 as executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. In a news release calling the Trump supporters who vandalized the Capitol and prompted its lockdown "armed thugs," Timmons urged Vice President Mike Pence to consider working with the president's Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment.

"This is not the vision of America that manufacturers believe in and work so hard to defend," Timmons stated. "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."


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