April 17, 2017
Washington – Corporate executives have swamped President Donald Trump’s White House to an astonishing degree, a Public Citizen review of news reports and White House press releases reveals.
Since his inauguration, Trump has met with at least 190 corporate executives – averaging more than two a day, according to Public Citizen’s analysis. Counting repeat attendees, Trump has had at least 222 corporate executive meetings.
These totals do not include his reported frequent telephone conversations with Blackstone’s Steve Schwarzman, JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon and other CEOs. Nor do they not count administration members and nominees.
Public Citizen released its analysis as the Trump administration comes under fire for policy reversals attributed to corporate influence and just days after the administration ended the public disclosure of White House visitor logs.
“Donald Trump has asked America’s CEOs for marching orders, and in meeting after meeting, they are happily issuing instructions,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “As best anyone can decipher what’s going on at the White House, the CEOs are in charge now – and they are predictably advocating their narrow, short-term profitability interests, not what’s in America’s interest.”
While Trump occasionally has granted an audience with individual executives, the high numbers are due in large part to gatherings of executives at the White House. These extraordinary gatherings, which have the explicit purpose of providing a way for Big Business to shape the administration’s policies, are supplemented by the president’s more casual interactions with corporate leaders at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., where the membership fee is now $200,000.
Many of the gatherings reflect the administration’s interest in giving special consideration to the views of specific corporate sectors, such as airlines, health insurance corporations, pharmaceutical corporations, the automotive industry and regional banks. One of every five corporate executives who have met with the Trump administration since his inauguration represented the banking or financial sector, a particular focus of Trump’s criticism during the campaign.
During the presidential campaign, candidate Trump proclaimed, “Our campaign is about breaking up the special-interest monopoly in Washington, D.C.”
“President Trump not only has betrayed the promises of candidate Trump by failing to break up the special-interest monopoly in Washington, D.C., he has invited the special interests into the White House and asked them for guidance on how to deepen and perpetuate their monopoly,” Weissman said.
Among the corporate executives Trump has entertained within the first 100 days are wealthy donors (such as Sheldon Adelson, David Koch, Carl Lindner III) and the heads of large corporations (including JPMorgan Chase, Dow Chemical and Wal-Mart). During the transition, Trump presided over a meeting that included media executives representing CNN, MSNBC, NBC and Fox News.
Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1971 to represent consumer interests in Congress, the executive branch and the courts.