In forceful statements, some issued as pro-Trump rioters breached the U.S. Capitol building Wednesday, retail groups and other business leaders condemned the mob and in some cases blamed the president for inciting it.
The violence interrupted the usually routine tally of the presidential electoral college votes, which Vice President Mike Pence and members of Congress resumed, and completed, hours after the chaos ended, working overnight after law enforcement cleared the building. Four people reportedly died.
National Retail Federation CEO Matthew Shay on Wednesday called it "a sad and distressing day for our country" and asked the Trump administration to "move quickly to provide the leadership that will end this affront to our democracy."
Other groups had even stronger words. The Business Roundtable called on "the President and all relevant officials to put an end to the chaos and to facilitate the peaceful transition of power." And the Retail Industry Leaders Association was among those to blame President Trump himself for the violence.
"The events at the US Capitol today were nothing less than an attack on our democracy," RILA President Brian Dodge said in a statement Wednesday. "At a time when our elected officials were meant to perform a routine yet powerfully symbolic function of the peaceful transfer of power, they were met with a violent mob, incited by the President of the United States and his agents."
Marketplace platform Shopify, for its part, removed e-commerce stores run by the Trump Organization and Trump campaign as a result of the previous day's violence, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons was among the first to release a statement, and in it he called for Pence to "seriously consider working with the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to preserve democracy." That portion of the Constitution allows, among other actions, the Vice President and a majority of the cabinet to declare that "the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office" and remove him or her.
President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday appeared on television to condemn the mob's actions and called on Trump to calm his supporters. The president later issued a video calling for peace in which he also praised the rioters. Most retail groups noted the importance of a smooth turnover of power, with RILA praising Biden's remarks.
All groups called for a return to stability, necessary to civil society and a thriving economy, and a perennial business priority. The past year — dominated by an ongoing pandemic and its economic damage as well as a series of protests against police brutality and for civil rights — has been defined by uncertainty. Wednesday's violence shook the country further.
The American Apparel & Footwear Association called it a "crime against the United States and its people" and called for a peaceful transition of power in order to heal the nation and the economy.
Biden doesn't take office until Jan. 20, but some statements from business and other leaders in the past several hours suggest an eagerness for his term to commence.
"Now is the time to rebuild our economy, bring aid to families and businesses in need, and effectively manage the COVID-19 pandemic," ICSC, which represents shopping centers, said in its statement Thursday. "We look forward to working with President-Elect Biden and all of our democratically elected officials to do so."