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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

America needs law and order — but emphatically not the kind that President Trump has in mind when he uses the phrase. That's the message being sent by a broad coalition of CEOs who are silencing Trump and punishing his acolytes in Congress.

Why it matters: Private-sector CEOs managed to act as a faster and more effective check on the power of the president than Congress could. They have money, they have power, and they have more of the public's trust than politicians do. And they're using all of it in an attempt to preserve America's system of governance.

The big picture: The Constitution created an elaborate system of checks and balances that separated powers between the three branches of government. That system weakened as members of all three branches hewed increasingly to the platforms of the two political parties.

  • Be smart: A new political force is emerging — one based on centrist principles of predictability, stability, small-c conservatism, and, yes, the rule of law.

What they're saying: "You cannot call for violence," said Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg Monday, in an interview with Reuters Next explaining why she de-platformed Trump.

"In this moment, the risk to our democracy was too big. We felt that we had to take the unprecedented step of an indefinite ban, and I’m glad that we did."

Between the lines: American capitalism is based on a foundation of legal contracts, all of which ultimately rely on the strength and stability of the government.

  • When a sitting president threatens that stability by inciting an insurrectionist mob that storms the legislature, corporate America will do everything in its power to restrain him.

Driving the news: Tech giants including Facebook, Google, Amazon and Twitter have moved to quiet Trump and the far right. Other corporations are pulling political funding from all legislators who supported overturning the result of November's free and fair election.

  • And all of this has happened before the House of Representatives can even schedule an impeachment vote.

The backstory: Axios first told you about CEOs as America's new politicians in 2019, when they increasingly were responding to pressure.

  • Then corporate leaders mobilized last spring on coronavirus response, last summer over racial justice, and now they are joining ranks on climate change.

What's next: CEOs must be considered a permanent political force, wielding awesome power. This week's actions won't be the last.

  • But now these executives will face continual questions about their choices or their silence.

The bottom line: In his final days in office, Trump has managed to unify corporate America — against him. The country's CEOs in general, and its tech CEOs in particular, have found themselves capable of projecting their power onto the White House in a way that was both successful and unprecedented.

Go deeper

Jan 27, 2021 - Technology

Facebook to downplay politics on its platform

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday said the company will dial back on pushing political groups and content to users.

Why it matters: Facebook is hoping to dim intense political pressure from conservatives and liberals by backing away from arguments it’s long made that political speech is vital to free expression.

Biden says Russia likely to invade Ukraine

President Biden addressed the brewing conflict between Russia and Ukraine during a press briefing Wednesday, saying of Russian President Vladimir Putin, "my guess is he will move in."

Why it matters: U.S. officials have issued a series of warnings about Russia's threatening military buildup on the border with Ukraine, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying in Kyiv earlier Wednesday that Russia could invade "on very short notice."

Biden challenges GOP agenda: "What are Republicans for?"

President Biden pushed back against Republican efforts to obstruct his agenda during a press conference Wednesday, asking "What are Republicans for?"

Why it matters: Biden's speech comes as he approaches one year in office, facing low polling numbers and a stalled agenda.