Goldman Sachs CEO says bank does not support Trump travel ban

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By Olivia Oran

<span class="articleLocation”>Goldman Sachs Group Inc Chief Executive
Lloyd Blankfein became the first major Wall Street leader to
speak out against President Donald Trump’s order to halt
arrivals from several Muslim-majority countries.

In a voicemail to employees on Sunday, Blankfein said
diversity was a hallmark of Goldman’s success, and if the
temporary freeze became permanent, it could create “disruption”
for the bank and its staff.

“This is not a policy we support, and I would note that it
has already been challenged in federal court, and some of the
order has been enjoined at least temporarily,” Blankfein said,
according to a transcript seen by Reuters.

Most U.S. corporate bosses have stayed silent on Trump’s
immigration curbs, underscoring the sensitivities around
opposing policies that could provoke a backlash from the White
House.

While Apple Inc, Alphabet Inc’s Google
and Facebook Inc emailed their staff to denounce the
order, many of their counterparts in other industries either
declined to comment or responded with company statements
reiterating their commitment to diversity.

Top BlackRock Inc executives including CEO Larry
Fink sent a memo to staff on Monday saying Trump’s order
presented “challenges” to its goals of diversity and inclusion.
BlackRock is examining the direct impact on its employees, as
well as the broader implications of the order, they said.

“We, of course, all want to promote security and combat
terrorism, but we believe it needs to be done with respect for
due process, individual rights and the principle of inclusion,”
they wrote.

JPMorgan Chase & Co’s operating committee, which
includes CEO Jamie Dimon, avoided directly denouncing the
policy. In a note to staff over the weekend, the firm said it
was reaching out to all employees affected and noted that the
country was “strengthened by the rich diversity of the world
around us.”

Other banks, including Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo
& Co, said they were reviewing the executive order and
its implication on staff.

Representatives for Bank of America Corp and
Citigroup Inc declined to comment, as did those for stock
exchange operators Bats Global Markets, Nasdaq Inc and New York Stock Exchange parent Intercontinental
Exchange Inc.

The U.S. hedge fund industry was also virtually silent on
the immigration restrictions. Representatives for most major
firms —including Bridgewater Associates, Renaissance
Technologies, Millennium Management and Two Sigma Investments —
did not respond to requests for comment over the weekend.

Private equity firms, including Blackstone Group LP,
whose CEO, Stephen Schwarzman, chairs Trump’s advisory panel of
business leaders, also would not comment on the travel ban.

People familiar with some of the banks’ and firms’ decisions
in making public statements said a fear of riling President
Trump was inhibiting most CEOs’ responses.

Since the election, he has taken to Twitter to excoriate
certain companies, causing stock price swings. And because Wall
Street is hoping for an easing of financial reform regulations,
most firms want to stay in Trump’s good graces, they said.

The tepid responses from many of Blankfein’s peers made his
comments all the more potent, especially because Goldman has
gotten attention for the number of its alumni who have joined
Trump’s administration.

The most high-ranking Goldman executive to have joined the
Trump administration is former Chief Operating Officer Gary
Cohn, who left the bank in December to become head of the White
House National Economic Council. Others include Treasury
Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin and Trump advisers Steve
Bannon, Anthony Scaramucci and Dina Powell.

Those recruits have put the Goldman back in the spotlight as
a bank that long had influence in government and public policy,
from the days of the Great Depression to the 2008 financial
crisis.

But after the bank was embroiled in scandals over its
mortgage-market bets, it embarked on a campaign to improve its
image. Blankfein has promoted its focus on philanthropy and
diversity initiatives, as well as Goldman’s role in job
creation. (Additional reporting by Richa Naidu in Bengaluru and Lawrence
Delevingne and Trevor Hunnicutt in New York)



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