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“It’s like kumbaya”: President Trump strikes different tone with CEOs in closed-door meetings

President Donald Trump, the populist outsider who flipped American politics on its head by attacking the establishment and the “unfairness” of big business, has been jarringly friendly in his meetings with the country’s biggest CEOs. From pharmaceutical heads to automakers, Trump has been unexpectedly cordial, and even expressed a willingness to help ease burdons, according to dozens of executives and lobbyists who spoke to Reuters about the meetings.

In early February, Trump sent pharmaceutical stocks in a downward spiral after a White House spokesman confirmed that the president supported Medicare drug price negotiations, which would precipitate a bidding war between drugmakers and the government.

But in a January meeting weeks before, Trump could not have been any nicer, according to a pharmaceutical insider familiar with the meeting.

“There is no question that it was better than it could have been or we thought it could be,” the source told Reuters.

Since taking office, Trump has hosted nine meetings with groups of business leaders, including retailers, health insurers, tech giants and airlines.

In these meetings, Trump has apparently focused his concern on the needs of big business, hampered by all the regulations and a high corporate tax rate. Trump often asks about which regulations are holding businesses back from adding new jobs and often promises to resolve the issues, according to executives.

“He said one thing for the cameras and the door shuts and then it’s like kumbaya,” said another person briefed on a meeting between Trump and a group of CEOs.

At the end of most meetings, Trump provides a tour of the White House for the CEOs, Ginger Gibson and David Shepardson reported for Reuters:

Trump leads CEOs into the Oval Office, showing off paintings, sculptures and the furniture, as well as the rug and curtains he has picked out. He also points out a bust of Martin Luther King Jr., which he inherited from Obama. Then he takes a group photo behind the desk.

“He becomes tour guide and brings them over to the Oval Office,” the same official said. “He’s very proud of the Oval Office.”

Taylor Link is a news writer at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @taylorlink_

Taylor Link.

Source: Salon: in-depth news, politics, business, technology & culture > Politics

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