UPDATED with Sony CEO comments. John Stankey, CEO of AT&T and an industry figure who had a high-profile tangle with the administration of President Donald Trump, issued a statement decrying the “appalling insurrection” in Washington.
While the statement doesn’t name Trump, it does congratulate Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on being officially confirmed as president and vice president after Congress certified the Electoral College vote early this morning. Following goading by Trump, who has pushed baseless claims of election fraud, a throng of agitators overwhelmed police and occupied the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. The breach delayed the Congressional procedure for several hours, creating a vividly chaotic, destructive scene.
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“We applaud all those who stood strong to thwart an appalling insurrection bent on blocking the peaceful transfer of power following a free and fair election,” Stankey said. “Freedom, democracy and rule of law are America’s bedrock and must never be usurped. We congratulate President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris on their Electoral College victory. There is much to be done to move the country forward.”
Stankey, a career AT&T executive became the company’s CEO in 2020 after overseeing the acquisition of Time Warner and integrating the entertainment assets into the telecom giant. In 2017 and 2018, he spent months in Washington as Trump-appointed antitrust regulators at the Department of Justice pursued a lawsuit trying to block the AT&T-Time Warner merger.
Trump’s direction of the suit — one of the few to be filed in decades over a so-called “vertical” merger — have never been fully established. Numerous press reports have established that Trump’s longtime animus against CNN motivated him to try to undo the merger. Even though a federal judge resoundingly rejected the DOJ argument, he also barred any testimony about Trump’s role during the trial.
The AT&T chief was one of the first management figures in media and technology to formally weigh in on the events at the Capitol.
On Wednesday night, Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Tony Vinciquerra sent a brief memo to employees.
“We are horrified by the images we saw out of D.C. today,” he wrote. “The rioters who stormed and occupied the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to disrupt the Electoral College certification and strike at the heart of our most cherished democratic principles do not represent who we are as a country. This was a disgraceful attack. While this was something that took place in D.C., tensions are clearly high in many other parts of the country where we all live and work. Hopefully we see no further violence or disruption in other states or cities, but please be mindful of events in your communities and stay safe.”
Across corporate America, reactions to the chaos in D.C. have been fairly sporadic. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon issued a forceful condemnation on Wednesday before the Capitol building had even been secured. “This is not who we are as a people or a country,” he said in a statement. “We are better than this. 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.”
JPMorgan Chase is the largest U.S. bank in terms of assets managed.
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