US firms condemn ‘appalling’ insurrection

US business leaders widely condemned Wednesday’s storming of the Capitol, even as financial markets marched higher, untouched by the turmoil.

Former allies of President Donald Trump, including financier Steve Schwarzman, said the effort to disrupt the election was “appalling”.

The American Petroleum Institute said President Trump had proven himself “unworthy” of his title.

One top manufacturing group called for his immediate removal.

The president of the National Association of Manufacturers, said the push to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the November election was “sedition”, and blamed the president and some Republican lawmakers for enflaming sentiment.

“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 favour of anarchy,” said Jay Timmons, a Republican who was once seen as having a close working relationship with the White House.

“Anyone indulging conspiracy theories to raise campaign dollars is complicit.”

He said that the vice president should work with cabinet members to remove President Trump, using the 25th amendment – a call that was later taken up by many Democrats and others.

Uneasy relationship
The widespread condemnation came as the business community faces broader questions about its relationship with President Trump, which has been uneasy during his time in office.

The corporate world has supported some of his policies, including deregulation and the slashing of taxes on corporations in 2017 from 35% to 21%.

But some of the president’s other policies regarding trade and immigration, as well his support from racist groups and willingness to attack US businesses on social media, have challenged chief executives who would typically try curry favour with America’s top political leader.

Some bosses who took positions in the administration, or seats on business advisory groups, later tried to distance themselves.

Gary Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs executive who helped usher tax cuts in, was the director of President Trump’s National Economic Council before later stepping down. He called Wednesday’s rioting “un-American”.

He said that violent pro-Trump supporters “must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.”

Apple boss Tim Cook, also known for forging ties with President Trump, said “those responsible for this insurrection should be held to account”.

“We must complete the transition to President-elect Biden’s administration,” he added.

On Wednesday, Canadian e-commerce platform Shopfiy – which has faced years of calls to cut ties with right-wing websites – said it was taking down stores affiliated with the President, citing policies against inciting violence.

Activists pushed US retail giant Amazon to take similar action.

Despite the political turmoil in the United States, financial markets have hit new heights during the Trump presidency.

On Wednesday, the Dow receded slightly as footage of rioters spread. But it still gained 1.4% to close at yet another new high. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq also gained.

Markets opened higher again on Thursday.

The victory of two Democrats in Georgia Senate races, confirmed on Wednesday, gives Mr Biden’s party a slim majority in the Senate, which is seen as making further stimulus spending more likely.

“It’s one of those days where if you look at the markets, but don’t look at the news, you’d never guess that the two were happening on the same day,” said Emma Wall, analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

“They’re looking through this unrest and seeing a Democratic almost clean sweep … and there will hopefully be more certainty in the market,” she added.