By Emily Glazer, Chip Cutter and Lauren Weber 

Business leaders and trade groups called for an end to the violence in Washington D.C. on Wednesday as supporters of President Trump stormed the Capitol where legislators were meeting to certify President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College win.

The comments came during a week of statements and meetings involving corporate executives as they sought to publicly urge a smooth transfer of power while Mr. Trump and others disputed his election defeat.

Rioters forced lawmakers to shelter in place on Wednesday as Capitol Police rushed leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives from the floor. The developments came on a day when congressional allies of Mr. Trump challenged the election results from several states. Vice President Mike Pence, who was evacuated from the Capitol, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have rejected calls to overturn election results.

James Dimon, chairman and chief executive of JPMorgan Chase & Co., the country's largest bank, said the violence doesn't represent the U.S. "Our elected leaders have a responsibility to call for an end to the violence, accept the results, and, as our democracy has for hundreds of years, support the peaceful transition of power," Mr. Dimon said in a statement.

Marc Benioff, the chief executive of Salesforce.com Inc., tweeted: "Our leaders must call for peace and unity now. There is no room for violence in our democracy. May the One who brings peace bring peace to our country."

Others in the business community called for further steps. Jay Timmons, president and chief executive of the National Association of Manufacturers, said Mr. Pence should consider invoking the 25th amendment, which allows for a transfer of power when a president is unable to fulfill his duties.

"This is not the vision of America that manufacturers believe in and work so hard to defend," Mr. Timmons said in a statement. "Across America today, millions of manufacturing workers are helping our nation fight the deadly pandemic that has already taken hundreds of thousands of lives. We are trying to rebuild an economy and save and rebuild lives. But none of that will matter if our leaders refuse to fend off this attack on America and our democracy."

Thomas J. Donohue, CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which represents more than three million businesses across the country, called for an end to the violence and for Congress to regroup in the evening to certify the Electoral College results.

The Business Roundtable, a bipartisan group which counts among its members the CEOs of dozens of major U.S. companies, urged Mr. Trump and other officials to "put an end to the chaos and to facilitate the peaceful transition of power." Executives, including Microsoft Corp. chief Brad Smith, tweeted the statement and reiterated their support for a peaceful transition. "This is a day to speak up for our Constitution and its values," Mr. Smith tweeted.

Mr. Biden, in a speech from Wilmington, Del., pushed Mr. Trump to "publicly demand an end to this siege."

Hours after violence erupted at the Capitol complex, Mr. Trump urged supporters to go home while calling them "very special," in a video released from the White House that also reiterated his debunked claims about the election results. While he called for protecting law enforcement, the president added: "I know how you feel."

As the violence and chaos unfolded, some CEOs addressed their employees directly. Tim Ryan, the U.S. chairman of consulting and accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, had expected to talk to employees about normal business matters during a webcast scheduled for Wednesday. Instead, after seeing the Capitol breached by rioters shortly before the call, he told them, "It is safe to say that this is a surreal day that will go down in our country's history and it is devastating to watch these events unfold right before our eyes."

PWC checked on employees in the Washington D.C. area to ensure they were safe, and is monitoring for similar uprisings in other cities, a spokeswoman said. Mr. Ryan also told employees on the webcast they could take the rest of the day off if they were feeling overwhelmed by the day's events.

The chaos interrupted workdays as many employees stopped what they were doing to follow the coverage. At Progressive Stamping & Fabrication LLC, a 28-person manufacturer in Oklahoma City, people -- including some who were disappointed with the election outcome -- monitored developments online and on an office television, said Dave Younge, an owner of the company.

Mr. Younge, a Republican, said he was busy with work and unaware of what was unfolding when he started receiving news alerts. "I thought holy cow, this is going on?" he said. "This is very disappointing."

Write to Emily Glazer at emily.glazer@wsj.com, Chip Cutter at chip.cutter@wsj.com and Lauren Weber at lauren.weber@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 06, 2021 18:27 ET (23:27 GMT)

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