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Slowly but surely, some of Donald Trump’s closest allies in the business world are accepting what Trump himself has yet to acknowledge—that Joe Biden won the 2020 election and will be the next president of the United States.
On Monday, Blackstone Group chairman and CEO Stephen Schwarzman, one of the President’s staunchest and most prominent allies on Wall Street, publicly stated as much—telling Axios that the outcome of the election “is very certain today, and the country should move on.”
“I supported President Trump and the strong economic path he built,” Schwarzman said in a statement to the publication. “Like many in the business community, I am ready to help President-elect Biden and his team as they confront the significant challenges of rebuilding our post-COVID economy.”
Schwarzman acknowledged comments he made three days after the election, during a meeting of two dozen Fortune 500 CEOs, in which he defended Trump’s reluctance to concede the race. While many of the CEOs reportedly discussed taking collective action if Trump refused to leave the White House, Schwarzman defended the President’s right to legally challenge the outcome.
“I’m a fan of good process,” Schwartzman told Axios, adding that he was “trying to be a voice of reason and express why it’s in the national interest to have all Americans believe the election is being resolved correctly.”
The Blackstone head’s willingness to embrace President-elect Biden as the future commander-in-chief is notable because of his close relationship with Trump. Schwarman parlayed his status as one of Wall Street’s biggest political donors to become a close confidant of the President, particularly on matters relating to trade and U.S.-China policy.
But as the President’s legal challenges to the election’s outcome continue to falter and his administration continues to stonewall the tradition process of handing over the reigns, more business leaders and industry groups have taken Schwarzman’s stance of accepting Biden’s victory and urging an orderly transition of power.
Last week saw Tom Donahue, CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—one of the nation’s most powerful business lobbying groups, and traditionally Republican-leaning—urge Trump to “not delay the transition a moment longer.” Likewise, the leadership of the National Association of Manufacturers also called on the federal government to begin the transition process last week, while JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon appealed for a “peaceful transition” to “a new president,” and Walmart CEO Doug McMillon took the somewhat unusual step of congratulating Biden on his company’s third-quarter earnings call.
So far, those calls have yet to be echoed by most establishment Republicans, the overwhelming majority of whom have refused to publicly challenge the President’s efforts to challenge the election, baselessly cast doubt on its integrity, and stifle the transition process. Their willingness to accommodate Trump appears rooted in an aversion to alienating the Republican base, among whom Trump remains hugely popular.
But even that wall of obedience among mainstream Republicans appears to be cracking. Former New Jersey governor and Trump ally Chris Christie labeled the President’s legal strategy “a national embarrassment” over the weekend, while Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) congratulated Biden on his victory and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) called on Trump to respect “the sanctity of our electoral process.”
Renowned journalist Carl Bernstein also reported the names of 21 Republican senators who have privately “expressed extreme contempt for Trump and his fitness to be president”—raising the possibility that more lawmakers will break from the President’s ranks in the days and weeks to come.
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