Trump Turns to Schwarzman, Dimon for White House Jobs Panelby
Some advisers favor free-trade deals and donate to Democrats
President-elect facing criticism for appointing billionaires
President-elect Donald Trump turned to some of Wall Street’s biggest names to create a panel of business leaders that will give him strategic advice on the economy after he takes office, including two financiers with deep Democratic roots.
Blackstone Group LP Chief Executive Officer Steve Schwarzman will chair the President’s Strategic and Policy Forum, which will begin meeting with Trump in February, according to a statement Friday from his private equity firm. JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon and BlackRock Inc. CEO Laurence Fink, major donors to Democratic politicians, will also sit on the panel.
“This forum brings together CEOs and business leaders who know what it takes to create jobs and drive economic growth,” Trump said in a statement issued by Blackstone. “My administration is committed to drawing on private sector expertise and cutting the government red tape that is holding back our businesses from hiring, innovating, and expanding right here in America.”
Presidents traditionally turn to business leaders for advice on the economy. President Barack Obama named CEOs from companies including Xerox Corp. and Dow Chemical Co. to an advisory committee on international trade, while Schwarzman has partnered with the current administration on efforts to hire veterans.
Trump asked him to pick the group’s members, Schwarzman said Friday in a Bloomberg Television interview, recounting his discussions with the president-elect and adding that the executives are hopeful their advice will benefit the country.
“He said, ‘It’s really for me to learn what people have to say in an unconstrained way: they don’t report to me, they’re independent, and I want to know what they know,’” said Schwarzman, 69, a billionaire who has historically backed the Republican Party’s presidential nominee but didn’t publicly voice support for Trump during the campaign. “It was nice to see people put aside narrow interests.”
Dimon, 60, has led JPMorgan since 2005. Unlike competitors, it remained profitable during the financial crisis. A self-described Democrat who has advocated liberal positions, he’s also the banking industry’s most prominent defender and an occasional critic of its regulators.
He was at one time rumored to be under consideration as Trump’s Treasury secretary. He did not endorse a candidate in the presidential election.
Fink, 64, has been critical of Trump in the past. He was once floated as a possible Treasury secretary under Obama or Hillary Clinton, had she defeated Trump.
Other panel members include General Motors Co. CEO Mary Barra, Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove, Bob Iger of Walt Disney Co., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. CEO Doug McMillon and former Boeing Co. CEO Jim McNerney.
Trump has turned to business leaders, bankers and Wall Street executives to fill his cabinet, selecting former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive Steven Mnuchin as his nominee for Treasury secretary and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross for commerce secretary.
GM’s Barra said in a statement that her participation on the panel “offers us a seat at an important table where we can contribute to a constructive and open dialogue about key policy issues.” Disney’s Iger said the forum reflects “an array of individual perspectives from a cross-section of industries” and he welcomes the chance to discuss “ways to grow jobs and expand economic opportunity.”
At a rally in Cincinnati on Thursday, Trump said his administration would include “some of the greatest business people in the world,” brushing off criticism that he has appointed too many millionaires and billionaires.
“One of the networks said, why would he put on a billionaire at Commerce? Well, that’s because this guy knows how to make money, folks,” Trump told the crowd.
Trump said the business leaders he was selecting for his cabinet were “killers” who would help him implement a sweeping agenda of tax cuts and new trade deals.
Many of the business leaders serving on Trump’s panel support some of the trade deals Trump railed against as a candidate, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership that he says he will exit.
Other panel members include former General Electric Co. Chairman and CEO Jack Welch, Goldman Sachs’s lead independent director, Adebayo Ogunlesi, who is also chairman and managing partner of Global Infrastructure Partners, and Ginni Rometty, the CEO of International Business Machines Corp.
Rometty wrote Trump a three-page letter on Nov. 14 outlining ideas that she said “can advance a national agenda in a time of profound change.” She defended IBM’s operations overseas, and allowed that “in the years ahead, there will be issues on which we agree, and issues on which we do not.”