After supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on Wednesday, he drew scathing rebukes from some prominent figures in the Republican Party, as well as the National Association of Manufacturers, which called for his potential removal through the invocation of the 25th Amendment.
The heightened criticism from the Republican Party and the business community — two groups often reluctant to admonish Trump — echoed in withering remarks from Dick Parsons, a former chairman of Citigroup and former CEO of Time Warner who served in some fashion every Republican president from Gerald Ford to George W. Bush.
In a new interview, taped on Wednesday afternoon as the attack unfolded, Parsons denounced Trump’s “exhorting the mob” and held Trump responsible for “the results” of the violence, which led to fourth deaths.
“I think it's really sort of shameful that we have a president who is exhorting the mob — that's what this president is doing,” Parsons says. “Whatever the results of the storming of the Capitol, those are going to be on Donald Trump's hands.”
“It doesn't matter that he's a president of the United States — his behavior is just out of bounds and wrong,” Parsons adds. “He’s basically perpetrating a lie, which I personally believe he knows is a lie.”
On Thursday, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao resigned, and Illinois Representative Adam Kinzinger became the first Republican member of Congress to back the removal of Trump through the invocation of the 25th Amendment. Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi also backed the use of the 25th Amendment.
‘Walk down to the Capitol’
Before lawmakers assembled on Wednesday for a joint session of Congress to certify the 2020 election, Trump delivered a 70-minute speech to his supporters in Washington D.C. He described the election results as an “egregious assault on our democracy,” and said his supporters should “walk down to the Capitol.”
After his supporters had later broken into the Capitol, Trump released a video urging them to “go home,” but also praising them as “very special” and repeating baseless allegations of a stolen election. Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR) removed the video from their platforms. Twitter locked Trump’s account for 12 hours, and Facebook has suspended his account indefinitely.
Once Congress finally certified the election results early Thursday morning, Trump released a statement promising an “orderly transition” to President-elect Joe Biden.
Parsons, who two years ago told Hollywood Reporter that Trump is “ill-equipped to be president,” said his conduct on Wednesday aligned with the approach he has taken since his election defeat last November.
“I don't think our president has covered himself with glory here,” Parsons says. “But I don't think our president has covered himself with glory since the election.”
Parsons spoke to Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer in an episode of “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment.
Known for leading organizations through crisis, Parsons took over as chairman of Citigroup in 2009 after the financial crash, and he became interim CEO of the Los Angeles Clippers in 2014 after the league removed owner Donald Sterling.
He also helped rejuvenate the Apollo Theater over more than two decades on its board of directors, from which he stepped down last month.
When asked whether the events on Wednesday would elicit public criticism from business executives otherwise often reluctant to address Trump, Parsons said, “I think so.”
“Because this is something that's like a spiral,” Parsons adds. “And it's been further out of control every time it goes around the center, and now it has kind of broken through anybody's ability to rationally sort of accept it.”