Poll of US Big-Company CEOs Finds Support For Removing Trump From Office

The results, from a poll at a Yale event for CEOs in New York, are quite different than the most recent polling of broader public opinion in the country.

President Trump's trade policies are dividing CEOs.While the timeline of when President Trump will face his impeachment trial in the Senate remains an open question, when he does face lawmakers the outcome should be removal from office—at least according to a majority of big-company US CEOs polled earlier this week.

In an unscientific survey of 78 CEOs representing some of America’s largest companies that was taken at a gathering in New York of the Yale School of Management’s CEO Leadership Institute, 56% of those who responded said the president should be found guilty and removed from office, and 44% said they did not think he should be removed.

That result is quite different than the most recent polling of broader public opinion in the country. A Gallup survey released Wednesday morning found only 46% of those polled said the president should be removed, down six percentage points from the firm’s initial reading just a few weeks ago, as the inquiry opened. According to Gallup, 51% oppose impeachment and removal, a gain of five percentage points over the same period of time.

It was just one surprising reading of CEO opinion at the event, which was celebrating its 100th session. Hosted by Yale’s Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a longtime contributor to Chief Executive, The CELI Summits are a four-times a year, bi-partisan gathering of the country’s top government officials, politicians, academics and media and business leaders who come together for a day of informal, off-the-record discussion and sometimes raucous debate.

The poll question that attracted the most unanimity among CEOs was on the issue of China, with 96% of those polled agreeing that the Trump administration’s “phase one” deal with China did not adequately address major issues such as intellectual property, tech transfer and joint ownership (only 4% disagreed). On the issue of who came out on top in the negotiations so far, just 15% said the US, with 34% saying the Chinese had and 7% saying both. Some 46% said neither.

“Despite the CEO enthusiasm for the current economy,” Sonnenfeld said, “they were overwhelming critical of the coverage of phase I the proposed China trade deal. They feel key issues such as on intellectual property protection and forced technology transfers were insufficiently addressed. There was disagreement on how to negotiate the next stage successfully with China, but widespread agreement that US security was weakened by Administration efforts to draw Ukraine into US politics. Most of the CEOs also were worried that we have failed to effectively address the risks to our own election security due to unchecked foreign intervention.”

Asked if it should be illegal for a US president to ask a foreign country to investigate US citizens, 59% of the CEOs polled said yes, 41% no. The same percentages held when asked if President Trump’s undermining of the Ukrainian government had hurt US national security.

In other results from the day’s polling:

  • 66% of CEOs polled said they were worried about US election security due to foreign interference, versus 34% who said they were not worried.
  • 68% said the Senate should be able to compel the President’s immediate staff to testify in the impeachment trial, versus 32% who said no.
  • An overwhelming 87% said President Trump should not have interfered in the discipline of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, versus 13% who disagreed.
  • 78% of CEOs polled also said Navy Secretary Richard Spenser was right to resign over the Gallagher episode, versus 22% who disagreed.