But what occurred Wednesday seemed finally to be too much. Trump staged a rally in Washington a short walk from where Congress was counting the electoral college votes, with Trump whipping up his followers with fabrications about election results and urging them to march to the Capitol to protest. Later, Trump appeared to sympathize with the mob and support the violent actions.
The National Association of Manufacturers soon after released an extraordinary statement from its president, Jay Timmons, saying Vice President Pence “should seriously consider working with the Cabinet to invoke the 25th amendment to preserve democracy.”
The amendment allows for the president to be replaced if the leader is unable to do his job, for a variety of reasons, either temporarily or permanently. Although the amendment previously had been floated by anti-Trump political groups as an extreme solution to his presidency, it is remarkable that it was now being suggested by the mainstream trade organization representing 14,000 companies nationwide.
“This is not law and order,” Timmons said in his statement about what occurred at the Capitol on Wednesday. “This is chaos. It is mob rule. It is dangerous. This is sedition and should be treated as such.”
Timmons also said anyone “indulging conspiracy theories to raise campaign dollars is complicit.”
Michael Corbat, chief executive of Citibank, said he was disgusted by the scenes. “I pray that this situation can be resolved without further bloodshed,” he said in a statement.
JPMorgan chief executive Jamie Dimon said in a statement that he “strongly” condemned the violence. “This is not who we are as a people or a country,” he said. “We are better than this.”
Arvind Krishna, chief executive of IBM, said he, too, condemned the “unprecedented lawlessness and we call for it to end immediately. These actions have no place in our society, and they must stop so our system of democracy can work.”
U.S. Chamber of Commerce chief executive Thomas Donohue said, “The attacks against our nation’s Capitol Building and our democracy must end now.”
Donohue said Congress must return “to conclude their Constitutional responsibility to accept the report of the Electoral College.”
Goldman Sachs chief executive David Solomon said in a statement that the attack on the Capitol was damaging to the United States.
“It’s time for all Americans to come together and move forward with a peaceful transition of power,” he said. “We have to begin reinvesting in our democracy and rebuilding the institutions that have made America an exceptional nation.”
Alex Gorsky, the chief executive of Johnson & Johnson, said in a statement that he is “devastated by this assault on what our country has stood for since its founding: free, fair and peaceful elections.” He said it is time to stand for unity, “not face-to-face in conflict — and to chart our path to a better and healthier future.”
Mike Sommers, president of the American Petroleum Institute, who worked two decades for John A. Boehner when Boehner (R-Ohio) was a congressman, said he found the television footage “absolutely sickening” and “heartbreaking.” Asked about Trump’s role, Sommers said: “I blame him completely. He has proven himself unworthy of the office of being president.”
Referring to the rioters who stormed the Capitol, Sommers said: “This country has relied on the peaceful transfer of power since our founding. What happened today was an absolute outrage and the parties responsible should be held accountable.”
Business Roundtable, a group representing some of the nation’s top chief executives, issued a statement that blames the chaos on “elected officials’ perpetuation of the fiction of a fraudulent 2020 presidential election,” calling it “not only reprehensible, but also a danger to our democracy, our society and our economy.”
Rob Nichols, president of the American Bankers Association, said in a statement: “This is a dark day for our democracy. The violence playing out on Capitol Hill and in the streets of Washington is reprehensible and should shock and sadden all of us. Our nation is better than this."
The leader of a large construction labor union called for Trump to “immediately step down" or for Trump’s cabinet to forcibly remove him. “Any less action by the Cabinet, and America should consider them all co-conspirators,” Sean McGarvey, president of North America’s Building Trades Unions, which claims more than three million members, said in a statement late Wednesday.
Condemnation of the violence Wednesday came even from some industries that have benefited from the Trump administration’s policies.
The Aerospace Industry Association, which represents military manufacturers including Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Raytheon, published a statement Thursday afternoon condemning the rioting along with “those who incite such violence.” The statement did not name Trump, although it did congratulate President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris on the congressional certification of their election win.
“We applaud Congress for its determination to keep our nation’s constitutional process on track in spite of the violent attempts to derail this important work,” said association president Eric Fanning, who served as Army secretary in the Obama administration.
The National Defense Industrial Association also issued a pointed statement condemning the violence. “The despicable acts of yesterday’s mob, egged on by irresponsible rhetoric, is anathema to those values and the foundational document that has made America the shining city on the hill that has beckoned millions to a better way of life," said the statement from Hawk Carlisle, a retired four-star Air Force general who heads the group.
Criticism also came from business leaders who have been close supporters of Trump in the past.
“The insurrection that followed the President’s remarks today is appalling and an affront to the democratic values we hold dear as Americans,” Stephen A. Schwarzman, chief executive of the Blackstone Group, wrote in a statement posted on the investment firm’s Web site.
“I am shocked and horrified by this mob’s attempt to undermine our Constitution," said Schwarzman, among the financial industry’s largest donors to Trump.
Steven Mufson, Taylor Telford, Jena McGregor and Aaron Gregg contributed to this report.