Top CEOs wanted Trump to be impeached after the deadly Capitol riot, according to a new survey by Yale

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Grace Dean
·4 min read
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Trump White House
President Donald Trump on the South Lawn of the White House on January 12, 2021 Drew Angerer/Getty Images
  • CEOs were overwhelming in favor of impeaching President Donald Trump, according to Chief Executive Leadership Institute data shared with Insider.

  • In a survey, every CEO who responded said Trump helped incite last week's violent attack on Congress.

  • Most think there'll be further violence on inauguration day, and even this weekend.

  • Business leaders are "the most trusted pillar" right now, the institute's founder said.

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Top chief executives backed President Donald Trump's impeachment for inciting last week's deadly Capitol insurrection.

In a survey of roughly 40 CEOs of major US companies just hours before the House of Representatives voted, 96% said Trump should be impeached and removed from office.

"We're at a point where an attack on our system requires our system to respond," one of the CEOs, speaking anonymously, told Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, who conducted the survey as founder of Yale's Chief Executive Leadership Institute (CELI).

"Impeachment is an imperative," the CEO added.

Every respondent to the institute's survey answered "yes" to the questions "is Donald Trump unfit to be President?" and "did President Trump help incite last week's violent attack on Congress?"

Sonnenfeld conducted the survey at a CELI meeting Wednesday morning with CEOs from industries including tech, pharmaceuticals, retail, and transport. They attended the meeting on condition of confidentiality, but previous attendees at CELI meetings include execs from Disney, Accenture, Goldman Sachs, and Deloitte, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Former senior government officials, advisors, and academics were also present at the meeting.

After Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol last week in a desperate bid to overturn the presidential election results, which turned into a violent insurrection leaving five people dead, some businesses have been quick to cut off ties with Trump and his supporters. Some have cut off political funding to the 147 GOP lawmakers who voted against certifying Joe Biden as president, while others have temporarily pulled the plug on all political donations.

Read more: Lawmakers, Hill staffers, and reporters recount the harrowing experience as a violent pro-Trump mob broke into the Capitol to protest the electoral-vote count

"A lot of us are hesitant to wade into political waters. We don't want to bring politics into the boardroom or to our employees," one of the CEOs said at Wednesday's CELI meeting.

"But we need to recognize that threats to the rule of law are legitimate business issues," they continued."It's totally legitimate and therefore also very important that we speak out on these issues."

The business leaders' overwhelming support for Trump's impeachment showed a dramatic shift in attitude from a similar meeting held by Sonnenfeld the day before the siege, when only 7% of those present said they thought he should be impeached.

The CEOs' biggest concern was public safety, Sonnenfeld told Insider. Four in five respondents to the survey said they thought Washington would be under attack from domestic terrorist on inauguration day, and even more - 93% - said they think public safety is at risk in all states this weekend.

At the meeting, the CEOs discussed a range of measures companies can introduce in response to the riots.

The CEOs were overwhelmingly in favor of using their political funding to show their stance, Sonnenfeld told Insider. Every respondent to they survey said that business PACs and trade associations should cut off donations to the legislators who voted against Biden's certification.

This was something more than two dozen CEOs were mulling even before Wednesday's violent siege. And without the attack, most CEOs would have still gone ahead with pulling this funding, Sonnenfeld told Insider - but the siege meant that Trump's reputation suddenly plummeted from being "tainted" to being "destroyed," he said.

But the blanket approach of temporarily cutting off all political funding, which has been introduced by the likes of Facebook, Microsoft, and JPMorgan, wasn't as popular among the CEOs. Only 42% of respondents agreed with this approach.

Read more: Hallmark asks Republican Senators Josh Hawley and Roger Marshall to refund its political donations after they voted against Biden's certification

It isn't just lawmakers that CEOs think they should be taking action against. The vast majority said they would also withdraw support for members of the media who had supported Trump's baseless claims that the election was stolen. When asked whether they would "avoid being interviewed by TV hosts/anchors who are peddling election denial, such as Fox News' Maria Bartiromo and Lou Dobbs," 85% of respondents said "yes."

It's unlikely that major CEOs will continue holding events at any of Trump's venues, Sonnenfeld told Insider, referring to how the Professional Golfer's Association (PGA) of America pulled its 2022 Championship from Trump's New Jersey golf course.

Some CEOs at Wednesday's meeting called for further regulations to hold social-media platforms responsible for their content and encourage better moderation. One CEO called on others to back politicians who take courageous positions.

The actions that CEOs take are important, Sonnenfeld explained.

"The business leaders right now are the most trusted pillar - over the clergy, public officials, even media and academic," he said.

Read the original article on Business Insider