“Steve Schwarzman, a Trump Adviser, Stays Loyal Till the End”

The NYT has broken a story that includes coverage of confidential meetings I’ve been involved in with the country’s business leaders since the election about what role they can play in supporting the stability of American democracy. I think the business community has a critical role to play and many business leaders have begun doing so. I’m not going to comment on the general accuracy of this story, other than to say that the story does quote me correctly:

On the morning of Nov. 6, 2020, Mr. Schwarzman joined about 25 chief executives, academics and others on a call to discuss the election results. Though votes were still being tallied, Joseph R. Biden Jr. appeared to have won. Mr. Trump was challenging the results.

Timothy Snyder, a Yale professor who had written a book titled “On Tyranny,” likened Mr. Trump’s actions to a coup d’état.

To Mr. Schwarzman, the notion appeared absurd. “This has been a tough time,” he said, according to a participant who shared details from a transcript of the call. Both the media coverage and the polls had misled people, Mr. Schwarzman said, and as a result, “people generally are skeptical about what anyone’s telling them.”

He argued that the vote counts, which were continuing days after the election, had created a perception problem, especially in places where Mr. Trump appeared to have an early win only for a Biden victory to be declared later. His comments didn’t sit well with some attendees.

“It was 100 percent known in advance that this was exactly what would happen in a place like Pennsylvania,” replied Richard H. Pildes, a constitutional-law expert, according to the participant who had the transcript. Kenneth Frazier, the chief executive of Merck, added that Mr. Trump’s actions were undermining democracy and should be of great concern, recalled attendees.

After Mr. Schwarzman’s comments were leaked to The Financial Times, some Blackstone investors began raising questions, say employees briefed on the calls. Staff members of pension funds, which invest with Blackstone, had previously told the firm’s officials that they wished Mr. Schwarzman would stay away from politics. Now, one pension wanted to know more about what he had said to the other executives and why, and another complained that they didn’t like what they were reading, two Blackstone employees said.

Even as he found himself ensnared in controversy, Mr. Schwarzman declined to criticize the president. It took him until Nov. 16 — more than a week after the election was called by networks — to acknowledge the win at an economic forum. (“It looks like Joe Biden,” he said.)

As Mr. Trump refused to concede, Mr. Schwarzman declined to sign a Nov. 23 letter in which more than 160 chief executives demanded a transition of power. Instead, he issued his own statement that “the country should move on,” adding that “I supported President Trump and the strong economic path he built.” (Jon Gray, Blackstone’s president and a big supporter of Mr. Biden, signed the group letter.)

Mr. Schwarzman also appears ready to move on. After the storming of the Capitol, he told colleagues that he thought the president should be removed. And he is now “ready,” he has said in recent prepared statements, to help Mr. Biden and his team.

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