Donald Trump's top business allies quiet on impeachment

In response to an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, many of his closest allies in Washington D.C. have dismissed it as a partisan hoax or downplayed the alleged wrongdoing. But his top supporters in the business community have done something else: remained near-uniformly silent.

Yahoo Finance contacted 37 prominent business leaders, many of them allies of Trump, some of whom have contributed tens of millions of dollars to his presidential campaigns and provided him with economic advice.

Three of the backers criticized the impeachment inquiry — while the vast majority of Trump’s wealthiest and most well-known supporters passed up the opportunity to defend him.

Blackstone (BX) CEO Steve Schwarzman and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon — both of whom served on one of Trump’s since-disbanded business advisory councils — declined to comment through spokespeople. The same response came from casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who along with his wife Miriam contributed $20 million to Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Meanwhile, hedge fund tycoon Robert Mercer and Related Co. Chairman Stephen Ross did not respond to multiple requests for comment. BlackRock (BLK) CEO Larry Fink, who also served on one of Trump’s business advisory councils, did not respond to a request for comment either.

John Paulson, a billionaire who held a fundraiser for Trump the day after Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the impeachment inquiry, declined to comment through an employee at his hedge fund Paulson and Co.

Some of Trump’s closest supporters stood with the president, though.

Related: Donald Trump faces impeachment inquiry

31 PHOTOS
Donald Trump faces impeachment inquiry
See Gallery
Donald Trump faces impeachment inquiry
ARCHIVO - En esta foto de archivo del 30 de noviembre de 2018, la entonces embajadora de EEUU en Ucrania, Marie L. Yovanovitch, habla en Kiev. Yovanovich declara el viernes 11 de octubre de 2019 ante las comisiones del Congreso que investigan al presidente Donald Trump antes de posiblemente iniciarle juicio político. (AP Foto/Efrem Lukatsky)
Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, center, arrives on Capitol Hill, Friday, Oct. 11, 2019, in Washington, as she is scheduled to testify before congressional lawmakers on Friday as part of the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
FILE - In this March 6, 2019 file photo, then U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, center, sits during her meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Kiev, Ukraine. (Mikhail Palinchak, Presidential Press Service Pool Photo via AP)
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about the House impeachment investigation during a formal signing ceremony for the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement at the White House in Washington, October 7, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Adam Schiff (D-CA), Chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence Committee speaks to the media before a closed-door meeting regarding the ongoing impeachment inquiry against US President Donald Trump at the US Capitol October 8, 2019 in Washington,DC. (Photo by Olivier Douliery / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)
Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben McAdams, of Utah, addresses the media at Midvale Senior Citizens Center Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, in Midvale, Utah. McAdams is changing his position to support the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. He said Friday he has not made a decision on whether the president should be impeached, but he supports investigating what he calls serious allegations. McAdams was previously one of a small handful of undecided House Democrats. He says he changed his mind because the Trump administration is unlikely to cooperate with an investigation unless it's conducted as an impeachment inquiry. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Staunch Trump ally Sen. Chuck Grassley pushes back against calls to out whistleblower
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., listens as Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., and other House Democrats discuss H.R. 1, the For the People Act, which passed in the House but is being held up in the Senate, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) speaks to reporters after the Trump administration blocked U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland from giving testimony in the House of Representatives' impeachment investigation of Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 8, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 01: Tourists make photographs inside the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol on October 01, 2019 in Washington, DC. Under the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the House of Representatives has opened an impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump following revelation that a whistleblower filed a complaint that Trump was seeking damaging information about a political opponent from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 30 : President Donald J. Trump talks to reporters about the whistleblower after participating in a ceremonial Swearing-In of the Secretary of Labor Gene Scalia in the Oval Office at the White House on Monday, Sept 30, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - OCTOBER 01: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks to the media on October 1, 2019 in Kiev, Ukraine. Ukraine has been at the core of a political storm in U.S. politics since the release of a whistleblower's complaint suggesting U.S. President Donald Trump, at the expense of U.S. foreign policy, pressured Ukraine to investigate Trump's rival, Joe Biden, and Biden's son, Hunter. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
(COMBO) This combination of pictures created on September 24, 2019 shows US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, on September 24, 2019 and US President Donald Trump in Washington, DC, September 20, 2019. - Amid mounting allegations of abuse of power by the US President, Pelosi announced the start of a formal impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives, the first step in a process that could ultimately lead to Trump's removal from office. (Photos by Mandel NGAN and SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN,SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., reads a statement announcing a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., steps away from a podium after reading a statement announcing a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
U.S. President Donald Trump reacts to audience applause after his address to the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to address the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
WASHINGTON, DC - September 24: Surrounded by journalists, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff (D-CA) emerges from a meeting with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, before the delivers a speech concerning a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on Tuesday September 24, 2019. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Members of the White House press corps - holding in the Trump Bar at Trump Tower - watch U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) live on television as she announces an impeachment investigation of U.S. President Donald Trump in New York City, New York, U.S. September 24, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump ATTENDS a bilateral meeting with Iraq's President Barham Salih on the sidelines of the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York City, New York, U.S., September 24, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) speaks to news reporters following an impeachment proceeding announcement, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., September 24, 2019. REUTERS/Tom Brenner
U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) walks through a House corridor following an Impeachment Proceeding announcement, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., September 24, 2019. REUTERS/Tom Brenner
U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL.) speaks to news reporters following an Impeachment Proceeding announcement, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., September 24, 2019. REUTERS/Tom Brenner
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 1125 -- Pictured: Host Jimmy Fallon as Donald Trump during the "Trump U.N. Speech" Cold Open on September 24, 2019 -- (Photo by: Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Protesters with "Kremlin Annex" call to impeach President Donald Trump in Lafayette Square Park in front of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., announced a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: U.S. House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks to the media in response to an announcement by Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) at the Capitol Building September 24, 2019 in Washington, DC. Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry today after allegations that President Donald Trump sought to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate leading Democratic presidential contender, former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, which was the subject of a reported whistle-blower complaint that the Trump administration has withheld from Congress. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) walks with her press secretary, Connor Joseph, to a House Democratic caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol where formal impeachment proceedings against U.S. President Donald Trump were announced by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi September 24, 2019 in Washington, DC. Spanberger is one of seven freshman members of the House with national intelligence or military backgrounds who recently spoke out in an opinion piece calling for an investigation of Trump. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: Reporters and congressional staff members wait outside a House Democratic caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol where formal impeachment proceedings against U.S. President Donald Trump were announced by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi September 24, 2019 in Washington, DC. Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry after allegations that President Donald Trump sought to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate leading Democratic presidential contender, former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, which was the subject of a reported whistle-blower complaint that the Trump administration has withheld from Congress. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 24: Reporters crowd around Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., as he leaves the House Democrats caucus meeting in the Capitol on impeachment of President Trump on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 24: Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, arrives for the House Democrats caucus meeting in the Capitol on impeachment of President Trump on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Protesters with Kremlin Annex with a light sign that reads "NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW" call to impeach President Donald Trump in Lafayette Square Park in front of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

“The election is just over a year away, we should all let the American public decide on President Trump’s fitness, not a highly partisan caucus in Congress,” said Christopher Ruddy, Newsmax CEO and longtime confidant of Trump. “It’s disappointing to see politics being played this way.”

Asked why most of Trump’s prominent business allies forwent the opportunity to comment on impeachment, Ruddy said, “ I have no idea.”

In recent months, some business leaders have come under fire for their ties to Trump, perhaps most notably Ross, who became the target of criticism and calls for boycotts last month after news broke of a Trump fundraiser he was set to host.

On Tuesday, Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry after reports that on a July phone call Trump had pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. In subsequent days, the Trump administration released a rough transcript of the call and a whistleblower complaint filed in its aftermath.

As of Saturday morning, The New York Times reported that 223 members of the House back an impeachment inquiry, giving it majority support in that chamber.

‘I’m disgusted by it’

Three business allies of Trump told Yahoo Finance they were dismayed by an impeachment inquiry that they consider unfounded.

“If the president willfully and flagrantly broke the law, he should be impeached,” Ruddy says. “However, I see no evidence of that so far.”

Peter Zieve, CEO of aerospace company Electroimpact Inc. who gave $1 million to outside groups in support of Trump’s 2016 campaign, said he is “sick” of the impeachment inquiry.

“I’m disgusted by it,” he adds. “Because there’s no reason to do that. I don’t see a high crime or misdemeanor.”

Asked to elaborate on his view, Zieve said, “I don’t want to talk about this. Thanks very much.”

Todd Ricketts, Chicago Cubs co-owner and Finance Chair for the Republican National Committee, described the impeachment inquiry as a partisan attack that has helped the RNC raise money.

“While irresponsible Democrats are seeking a vote on impeachment, countless Americans are voting with their check books — resulting in an unprecedented amount of financial support for the Republican National Committee,” he says.

Travis Brown, founder of political consulting firm Pelopidas, who has done outreach to the business community on behalf of Trump’s reelection campaign, helping it and joint fundraising committees raise $54 million in the second quarter of this year, declined to comment.

The same response came from Robert Murray, chief executive of Murray Energy Corporation, who gave $300,000 to Trump’s inauguration and afterward reportedly submitted a list ways he would like the administration to cut environmental regulations.

When reached by phone, some of Trump’s backers sounded surprised to be asked about impeachment.

“Oh boy, I was once in politics but I don’t have any comment,” says Patrick Durkin, the managing director at Atlas Merchant Capital, who has done fundraising outreach for Trump’s reelection campaign.

Other private sector allies of Trump who either did not respond to multiple requests for comment or declined to comment include a number who served as main economic advisers to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign: Heritage Foundation Fellow Stephen Moore, Coalition for Prosperous America Chairman Dan Dimicco, Cerberus Capital Management Co-CEO Stephen Feinberg, and Andy Beal, founder and chairman of Beal Bank.

 

Read Full Story