More businesses join backlash against Trump after Capitol siege

Trump and his brand have grown so toxic in the wake of last week’s US Capitol siege that businesses, institutions and even cities are cutting ties to all things Trump.

Trump and his brand have become increasingly toxic as consumers demand that businesses, politicians, and other influential figures take a stand against the outgoing US president and the assault on democracy made in his name [File: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters]

From social media bans to cancelled golf tournaments and city contracts, the business backlash continues after supporters of United States President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol building last week.

The violent siege left at least five people dead and caused extensive damage. Trump became the only president to be impeached twice Wednesday and continues to face calls for his removal from office with only a week to go before his term ends.

Trump and his brand have become increasingly toxic as consumers demand that businesses, politicians, and other powerful figures take a stand against the outgoing US president and the assault on democracy made in his name.

It is a big blow for the reality TV star turned president, who has long boasted of his business acumen and styles himself as a master negotiator.

Here is a list of firms, institutions and cities cutting ties with Trump and the Republican lawmakers who refused to certify the 2020 election results.

New York City

New York City is cancelling its contracts with the Trump Organization, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday.

“The contracts make very clear if a company and the leadership of that company is engaged in criminal activity, we have the right to sever the contract,” de Blasio told news network MSNBC on Wednesday. “Inciting an insurrection against the US government clearly constitutes criminal activity.”

The mayor said the city is expecting its decision to cut business with the Trump Organization to be met by legal challenges.

Big Tech

Social media firm Snap Inc has permanently terminated Trump’s Snapchat account, a company spokeswoman said.

It said it had decided to permanently ban the account “in the interest of public safety, and based on his attempts to spread misinformation, hate speech, and incite violence”.

Google-owned YouTube suspended Trump’s channel and removed a video for violating its policy against inciting violence.

The home page of the Trump channel featured a month-old video of Trump casting doubt on the voting election process that logged some 5.8 million views. The free channel has 2.77 million subscribers.

“In light of concerns about the ongoing potential for violence, we removed new content uploaded to Donald J Trump’s channel for violating our policies,” YouTube said in a statement.

The channel is now “temporarily prevented from uploading new content for a minimum of 7 days”, it said.

Twitter has permanently suspended Trump’s account “due to the risk of further incitement of violence”, the company said in a statement on Friday.

Several world leaders and US politicians welcomed the move, but others – including critics of Trump – blasted the action as politically motivated and an infringement on free speech.

Facebook, which owns photo-sharing app Instagram, announced it was blocking Trump’s account “indefinitely” on Thursday – the day after Trump supporters breached the US Capitol building in a violent, unruly mob.

“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 wrote in his post that explained the decision.

Some of Trump’s most avid followers are also caught in the Big Tech backlash after Apple and Google banned the Parler app from their stores for failing to police violent and threatening content on its platform. An alternative social network that is popular with Trump supporters, Parler also fell in the crosshairs of Amazon.com, which pulled the plug on web hosting services for the platform.

On Monday, Parler sued Amazon.com, calling its decision to terminate hosting services “politically motivated”. The following day, Amazon defended its move, saying the social media platform failed to police violent content before and after the Capitol riot.

Parler’s CEO John Matze told Reuters news agency on Wednesday that the service may never get back online.

Amazon.com also suspended all donations to the lawmakers who voted against certifying Biden’s win.

Fundraising site GoFundMe also announced it would no longer allow people to use its platform to raise money to travel to a political event where there is a risk of violence, Reuters reported.

Twitter has permanently suspended Trump’s account [File: Joshua Roberts/Illustration/Reuters]   

Business groups

US Chamber of Commerce CEO Thomas Donohue has condemned Trump for encouraging his supporters to storm the Capitol, saying his actions were “absolutely unacceptable and completely inexcusable”.

Donohue told a news conference on Tuesday that Trump “undermined our democratic institutions and ideals” and it was up to Vice President Mike Pence, the cabinet and Congress to decide whether to try to remove Trump early through the US Constitution’s 25th Amendment or through impeachment proceedings.

“We trust them to use those tools judiciously, if needed, to ensure our nation’s wellbeing and security,” Donohue said, calling on elected officials across the country to encourage a peaceful transition of power and promote calm.

The statement was unusually strong for the biggest and most influential US business lobby group, which has traditionally supported Republicans and backed a number of Trump’s policy initiatives over the past four years, including tax cuts passed in 2017, reduced regulations, energy initiatives and unprecedented coronavirus relief to businesses.

Sports

Trump has made no secret of his love for golf, but the Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA) announced on Monday that it was pulling its 2022 championship from the golf course the president and his family own in Bedminster, New Jersey.

“It’s become clear that conducting the PGA Championship at Trump Bedminster would be detrimental to the PGA of America brand; it would put at risk the PGA’s ability to deliver our many programmes and sustain the longevity of our mission,” PGA President Jim Richerson said in a video statement.

“Our board has thus made the decision to exercise the right to terminate the contract to hold the 2022 PGA Championship at Trump Bedminster,” he added.

US President Donald Trump, an avid golfer who owns multiple courses, had the PGA cancel the 2022 championship it planned to hold at his New Jersey property [File: Joshua Roberts/Reuters]

Colleges and universities

Two higher education institutions — Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and Wagner College in New York — announced they would be rescinding honorary degrees they had previously conferred on Trump.

Wagner College’s board of trustees held a special session to revoke Trump’s degree on Friday, it announced in a statement.

Lehigh leadership announced they had done the same — revoking the honorary degree Trump has held since 1988.

Hospitality

In addition to suspending donations to legislators who objected to certifying Biden’s win, home-sharing platform Airbnb announced it is cancelling existing reservations and blocking new ones in the Washington, DC metro area during inauguration week after its users voiced concerns about armed groups using the platform to book accommodations.

The governors of Maryland and Virginia and the mayor of Washington, DC “have been clear that visitors should not travel to the DC Metro area for the Inauguration”, Airbnb said in a statement on Wednesday. “Additionally, we are aware of reports emerging yesterday afternoon regarding armed militias and known hate groups that are attempting to travel and disrupt the Inauguration.”

The platform also said it had removed accounts belonging to “individuals who are either associated with known hate groups or otherwise involved in the criminal activity at the Capitol Building, and they have been banned from Airbnb’s platform”.

Hotel chain Marriott International Inc said it would suspend political donations to Republican lawmakers who voted against certifying Biden’s win, Bloomberg News reported.

“We have taken the destructive events at the Capitol to undermine a legitimate and fair election into consideration and will be pausing political giving from our political action committee to those who voted against certification of the election,” a Marriott spokesperson said.

Financial groups

Three other big banks are also reconsidering their political donation policies in the wake of the violence at the Capitol, Bloomberg News reported, with JPMorgan Chase & Co planning a six-month suspension of donations to both Republicans and Democrats.

Citigroup Inc has suspended all political donations for the quarter, Bloomberg reported, and Goldman Sachs Group Inc is likely to implement a policy that blocks donations to the lawmakers who opposed certifying Biden’s win.

“We want you to be assured that we will not support candidates who do not respect the rule of law,” Candi Wolff, Citi’s head of global government affairs, said in a memo to employees viewed by Bloomberg.

Morgan Stanley suspended donations to the political action committees of candidates who voted against certifying the results but did not bar donations across the board, The New York Times reported.

Boston-based State Street Corp announced it would not support legislators or political candidates who demonstrate views or take actions that undermine “legitimate election outcomes”, Reuters reported.

Deutsche Bank – Trump’s main lender – has decided to stop doing business with Trump and his company, The New York Times reported on Monday, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Signature Bank, where the president also has accounts, called on Trump to step down in a forceful statement posted to its website.

“We witnessed the president of the United States encouraging the rioters and refraining from calling in the National Guard to protect the Congress in its performance of duty,” the bank wrote. “At this point in time, to ensure the peaceful transition of power, we believe the appropriate action would be the resignation of the president of the United States, which is in the best interests of our nation and the American people.”

Healthcare

Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, whose 36 member companies provide health insurance for one in three Americans, announced it is suspending donations to lawmakers who objected to certifying Biden’s victory.

“In light of this week’s violent, shocking assault on the United States Capitol, and the votes of some members of Congress to subvert the results of November’s election by challenging Electoral College results, BCSBA will suspend contributions to those lawmakers who voted to undermine our democracy,” the association’s president and CEO Kim Keck said in a statement.

Retailers and payment platforms

Global retail giant Walmart announced in a statement on Tuesday that its “political action committee is indefinitely suspending contributions to those members of Congress who voted against the lawful certification of state electoral college votes”, Reuters reported.

Electronics retailer Best Buy said it would halt donations to those lawmakers as well.

Canada-based online retail platform Shopify Inc took down two stores affiliated with Trump on Thursday, including TrumpStore.com and Shop.DonaldJTrump.com.

Both sold some of the president’s signature products – like his “Make America Great Again” hats, which were ubiquitous during the Capitol riot.

Online payment firm Stripe also announced it would no longer be processing payments for Trump’s campaign website, The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

PayPal also closed the accounts of individuals and groups that helped send people to Washington, DC for Trump’s rally, Bloomberg News reported.

The accounts include those of the Christian crowdfunding site GiveSendGo and Joy in Liberty, which raised $30,000 for Trump supporters’ travel. PayPal, which owns instant cash transfer app Venmo, also closed the accounts belonging to Ali Alexander, one of the organisers of the so-called “Stop the Steal” event that turned deadly.

Shopping platform Etsy, which lets small businesses sell handmade crafts and apparel, announced it was removing the seller who made the “Camp Auschwitz” T-shirt worn by one of the men who attended the Capitol riot. The item was flagged by the Auschwitz Memorial, which called it “painful” and “disrespectful” to survivors and victims of the concentration camp.

“We will consider any items that celebrate last week’s attacks on the Capitol — or any future events that incite violence or threaten our democracy — as policy violations and deactivate shops as we deem appropriate,” Etsy’s CEO, Josh Silverman, wrote in a blog post that explained his decision on Tuesday.

Other big corporations

Sportswear giant Nike’s political action committee says it will not support any member of Congress who voted to decertify Electoral College results confirming Joe Biden as the next US president.

American Express also announced it would halt donations to Republican lawmakers who opposed certifying Biden’s electoral victory.

Telecom giants AT&T, Verizon and Comcast Corp, chemical company Dow Inc and multinational conglomerate General Electric and announced they would suspend donations to those lawmakers as well.

Hallmark Cards Inc went a step further, asking two of the lawmakers who objected — Missouri Senator Josh Hawley and Kansas Senator Roger Marshall — to return donations Hallmark had made to their campaigns.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

Related

More from Economy
Most Read