Justin Sink and Matt Townsend, Bloomberg | Quint, February 3, 2017

President Donald Trump has needled Mary Barra at General Motors Co. He’s troubled Doug McMillon at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and gone after Boeing Co., once headed by Jim McNerney. Those business leaders, and about a dozen others, sat down on Friday with Trump to talk trade, regulation and more.

In his first two weeks as president, Trump has rewritten the Washington playbook for corporate America, as he has for U.S. allies. In the process, he has opened rifts between companies over how to approach matters ranging from taxes to immigration and revealed the first cracks in companies’ tentative embrace of him, drawing criticism from some of the chief executives who were in the room Friday morning.

The meeting is the latest in a series of White House events designed to allow Trump to solicit feedback from business leaders — and burnish his image as a can-do businessman ready to strike deals. The events usually start with pictures and video clips to feed the news cycle and then a closed meeting with the president and top aides.

After the photo ops is when it gets interesting, of course, and it could be up to Blackstone’s Schwarzman to keep things in order, said Davia Temin, founder of the crisis-management company Temin & Co. in New York. If he’s allowed to be in charge, he should run it like a board meeting, with vigorous but respectful debate.

“One model is a high degree of professionalism and politeness, even while being tough and entrenched in your questioning,” she said. But “some boards are different — some boards you have knock-down, drag-outs.” […read more]