Donald Trump to speak at private CEOs meeting, weeks after conviction

Donald Trump to speak at private CEOs meeting, weeks after conviction

Former US President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump points as he arrives back at Trump Tower after being convicted in his criminal trial in New York City, on May 30, 2024. 

Timothy A. Clary | AFP | Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump will attend a private meeting with one of the most powerful business lobbying groups in Washington as he tries to craft an alliance with major corporate leaders. 

Joshua Bolten, the CEO of the Business Roundtable, confirmed in an email to members on Wednesday that Trump will be at the group’s plenary meeting in Washington on June 13.

Though President Joe Biden was invited, he cannot attend due to overseas travel for a G7 meeting. The business group instead asked White House chief of staff Jeff Zients to come, according to Bolten’s email. Zients accepted the invitation last week and plans to address the group on June 13, according to a person familiar with his plans. Biden addressed the group’s quarterly meeting in 2022.

The meeting is off the record and closed to the press, Bolten wrote in his message, which said that Trump’s team confirmed to the group that the former president will be at the gathering.

After publication of this story, the Business Roundtable confirmed in a statement that Trump will address the group’s members at their upcoming quarterly meeting. The group also confirmed Zients will speak to the organization since Biden will be abroad. 

“As is our usual practice, earlier this spring, Business Roundtable invited both major political parties’ presumptive presidential nominees to address our members at our June CEO Quarterly Meeting,” said Michael Steel, the senior vice president of communications for the organization. “Former President Trump has accepted. President Biden will be traveling overseas to the G7, but White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients is slated to appear in his stead.”

Trump’s campaign later confirmed that the former president will take part in a “moderated discussion” at the meeting. 

The invite to members arrived almost a week after Trump was convicted in New York of falsifying business records to hide a hush money payment to a porn star. Trump has continued to deny those charges. 

The meeting could draw all of the Business Roundtable’s members, which features over 200 CEOs. It could prove to be a pivotal moment for Trump, who has been trying to reel in business leaders to support and donate to his campaign for president, while touting the idea of tax cuts and implementing sweeping tariffs if he defeats Biden in November. 

Among the group’s members is Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman, who recently endorsed Trump after saying in 2022 he wanted to back an alternative to the former president. Other members include JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, Carlyle Group CEO Harvey Schwartz, AT&T CEO John Stankey and Chevron CEO Mike Wirth. 

The Business Roundtable did not always support Trump’s policies during his presidency. 

While it cheered on Trump’s tax cuts, the group took issue with the then-president’s policy tariffs on Chinese products. 

Several of its members resigned in 2017 from the White House’s business advisory councils following the white nationalist attack in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

Chuck Robbins, chair and CEO of Cisco and current chair of the Business Roundtable, said at the time that “it is incomprehensible that we’re having this conversation in 2017” and that his company denounced “racism, discrimination, neo-Nazism, white supremacy.”

After the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, the Business Roundtable condemned the attack and called on Trump to “put an end to the chaos and to facilitate the peaceful transition of power.”

Still, Trump has regularly tried to court wealthy business leaders despite clear differences with some of them.

Susie Wiles, Trump’s senior campaign adviser, spoke in front of a group of powerful Republican megadonors in Florida in January about why she believes they should support Trump. The group is led by veteran investor Paul Singer. 

Even post-conviction, Republican-leaning business leaders have shrugged off Trump’s conviction and, in some cases, extended more support. The Trump operation announced that it raised over $50 million in the 24 hours following the guilty verdict last week.

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