17 companies Trump had lunch with in late 2016

In mid-November, four weeks before President Trump finalized his Strategic and Policy Forum, a strange trade surged.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order to set up a forum with CEOs of companies across the country in order to advise him on regulation and economic growth. The forum has a six-month duration that is designed to end with recommendations to the president. It was originally called the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative; Trump jettisoned it after several companies boycotted, including Apple and Merck.

Many were curious about how it would be received since it would have the involvement of CEOs of major companies and seems geared towards Washington policy. Trump has railed against the federal government’s onerous regulations and both Trump and former President Barack Obama fought hard to change and alleviate regulations. So when Trump made the announcement on Nov. 15, 2017, it came as no surprise that many companies jumped at the chance to participate.

But there was more to the forum than they anticipated, and the trading activity in exchange for the chance to sit down with Trump wasn’t what they expected. The high bid for Tuesday’s meeting came in the fourth quarter of 2016. Early in that quarter, a pair of prominent executives sat down with the president at a dinner and announced they had a proposed $25 billion deal to create 10,000 jobs in the US. Just six months later, Trump would announce that the deal had fallen through. It’s unclear what happened with that deal, but it raised a number of questions.

The most important thing was to understand that not every company approached Trump with its vision of creating jobs or economic growth in the US. Instead, a much more likeliest scenario was that Trump would be seeking out CEOs who have something else in common: They had little to lose by promoting the ideas of free trade and increased American manufacturing. The fact that many of the CEOs on the forum would have faced opposition at home to their positions was considered by many as another hurdle that would be cleared.

All companies listed in the list below participated in the forum in some capacity. It’s difficult to pinpoint why each company would have an interest in sitting down with Trump. Some have political reasons for what they could offer Trump, like Ford, Whirlpool and Boeing. A handful might not wish to look weaker in their industry as they head into an election year, like Exxon Mobil and Disney. Others, such as Pfizer, may simply have been looking to retain new business from the forum.

The table below shows the companies that participated in the Strategic and Policy Forum in the fourth quarter of 2016. It includes every member of the forum who engaged the president on behalf of one of two possibilities. The best scenario for these companies is that Trump encourages them to push for more investment in their companies and economic growth. The second is that he rejects their perspectives, ends the initiative, or requires the company to change its position.

The companies who participated in the forum in the fourth quarter of 2016:

American Airlines Boeing

Campbell Soup Co.


Deere & Co.

Emerson Electric Co.

General Electric Co.

Hershey Co.

Illinois Tool Works Inc.

International Business Machines Corp.

Kraft Heinz Company

Marriott International Inc.

Lowe’s Companies Inc.

McDonald’s Corp.

Office Depot Inc.

Pfizer Inc.

Redwood Trust Inc.

Starbucks Corp.

USG Corp.

Whirlpool Corp.

United Technologies Corp.

Union Pacific Corp.

United Parcel Service Inc.

Some corporate leaders reached out to Trump after the forum was launched. Some reached out after the forum closed, while others didn’t. Pfizer Inc. reached out to Trump after the panel meeting in early December. It wished to continue to discuss trade and healthcare, specifically around the opioid epidemic and the president’s proposal to provide nearly $200 billion in tax cuts for businesses and individuals, according to Paul Shearon, the senior vice president and global corporate vice president of corporate strategy and business development. Shearon says Pfizer sought out the conversation. The comment was made public via White House records.

“We considered a lot of things and we decided to make it happen,” she says.

At the final forum, Pfizer presented the tax plan it was drafting.

“We felt like a lot of our investments were impacted by that, and this was an opportunity to showcase it,” Shearon says.

Below are the members of the Strategic and Policy Forum from the fourth quarter of 2016:

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