President Trump has spent the week fumbling to lay out his vision for “reopening” the US economy during the novel coronavirus pandemic. First, he convened a group of CEOs from the tech, transportation, and other industries without telling many of them about their participation. Then, on Thursday, he rolled out a “plan” that was a surprise to many of those same industry leaders. Now, on Friday, Trump called for citizens in Michigan, Minnesota, and Virginia to “LIBERATE” their states, each being a place where protests against social distancing have bubbled up all week.
People involved in those protests — which are being backed or promoted in part by anti-vaccination groups and anti-government funds linked to the Kochs — are already seeing it as a literal call to arms, according to NBC.
Industry leaders have abandoned the President’s councils before in reaction to his overreaches of authority, racist behavior, or both. But so far, at least, the inciting language Trump tweeted on Friday isn’t enough to shake anyone loose from these new ramshackle advisory groups. Instead, it looks more like the business-as-usual approach for many of them, which involves cozying up to the Trump administration in hopes of getting something that they want, regardless of optics, material cost, or the fact that it often backfires.
As for the tweets themselves, Twitter tells The Verge that it did not find them to be in violation of the the company’s rules, which is not surprising given how the company generally treats Trump to begin with. Twitter said that the use of the word “liberate” is vague and unclear, and that it isn’t necessarily calling for harmful action. Twitter pointed The Verge to a March 18th update to its policy enforcement guidance that specifically deals with COVID-19, which states:
We’ll continue to prioritize removing content when it has a clear call to action that could directly pose a risk to people’s health or well-being, but we want to make it clear that we will not be able to take enforcement action on every Tweet that contains incomplete or disputed information about COVID-19.
Here’s the full accounting of the members of the group, and below is a list of who we’ve reached out to, and what (if anything) they’ve said.
- Apple, whose CEO Tim Cook is part of the advisory group, declined to comment.
- Google, whose CEO Sundar Pichai is part of the advisory group, declined to comment.
- Microsoft, whose CEO Satya Nadella is part of the group, declined to comment.
- Facebook, whose CEO Mark Zuckerberg is part of the group, declined to comment.
- Intel, whose CEO Bob Swan is part of the group, declined to comment.
- Tesla, whose CEO Elon Musk is part of the group, did not respond to a request for comment.
- General Motors, whose CEO Mary Barra is part of the group, said through a spokesperson it doesn’t “see the linkage” between the company’s role on the advisory group and the President’s call for citizens to rise up against the orders of their state governments, and declined to comment any further on the tweets. The spokesperson instead said GM is working with other automakers and the United Auto Workers union on figuring out the best way to restart production at its automotive plants.
- Fiat Chrysler, whose CEO Mike Manley is part of the group, said its “first priority is the health and safety of our employees, their families and the communities we call home,” and also called out the company’s ongoing work with the UAW. A company spokesperson said Fiat Chrysler is “pleased to work with the Administration to ensure that the appropriate social-distancing protocols and PPE are in place for our workers to be safe and productive as we restart production at our facilities across the United States.”
- Ford, whose executive chairman Bill Ford is part of the group, did not respond to a request for comment.
- Uber, whose CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is part of the group, did not respond to a request for comment.
- United Airlines, whose executive chairman Oscar Munoz is part of the group, did not respond to a request for comment.
This post will be updated if and when any other companies respond.