President Trump strongly opposes “job-killing regulations” and generally wants the government to leave businesses alone. The corporate tax cuts he signed in 2017 were one of the most business-friendly moves to come from Washington in decades.
But there are exceptions to Trump’s chumminess with corporate America—and several businesses he seems to have a personal grudge against. We’ve identified 13 of them.
Amazon. Trump periodically jabs the e-commerce giant, as he did on March 29 when he complained that it puts local shops out of business, underpays the U.S. Postal Service for delivering its packages and shirks its obligation to pay taxes. Amazon (AMZN) stock has fallen more than 7% on concerns Trump could somehow damage the company’s finances. But Trump’s criticism is odd, because Trump himself has boasted about how “smart” it is to pay the least amount of tax possible. Trump’s real focus probably isn’t Amazon itself, but its CEO, Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post—which frequently publishes stories critical of Trump.
Time-Warner. Trump’s Justice Department is mounting unusual opposition to AT&T’s (T) plan to buy the Time-Warner (TWX) TV and film network, claiming it violates antitrust rules. But many antitrust experts disagree, since AT&T and Time-Warner don’t compete with each other and the deal would be a “vertical” merger rather than one in which a merged company could gain enough market share to pinch consumers. Republicans generally eschew this type of government meddling in business deals, but the real trigger here may be CNN, which Trump routinely derides as “Fake News CNN.” Time-Warner owns CNN, and Trump may be trying to scuttle the deal as retribution against critical coverage on the cable channel.
Boeing. Trump bashed the aerospace giant for “out-of-control” costs on the next version of Air Force One, while then claiming credit for $1.4 billion in cost savings on a renegotiated contract last February. Peace made. But Boeing (BA) may now be vulnerable to Trump’s America-first trade policy. Trump is imposing new tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports to the United States, and China is likely to retaliate with similar tariffs on U.S. imports in coming weeks. Boeing sells a lot of aircraft to China and could find itself out of the running if new tariffs make its planes more expensive in China than competitive offerings from Europe’s Airbus.
Wells Fargo (WFC). Trump has singled out this bank for a variety of consumer abuses that have led to millions of dollars in fines. “I will cut regs but make penalties severe when caught cheating!” Trump tweeted in December.
Health insurers. Trump hasn’t gone after these companies by name, but he seems incensed that big insurers, such as Cigna (CI), Aetna (AET), Anthem (ANTM) and UnitedHealth (UNH), received government subsidies as part of the Affordable Care Act. Trump killed those subsidies last year. “Money pouring into Insurance Companies profits, under the guise of ObamaCare, is over,” Trump tweeted in October. “They have made a fortune.” When health insurance stocks fell on news of the axed subsidies, Trump gloated, “Health insurance stocks, which have gone through the roof during the ObamaCare years, plunged yesterday after I ended their Dems windfall!”
Comcast (CMCSA). It owns NBC, another perennial Trump target. When NBC fired Matt Lauer last November, Trump tweeted, “When will the top executives at NBC & Comcast be fired for putting out so much Fake News.”
Merck (MRK). Trump took it personally when CEO Ken Frazier quit a Trump manufacturing council last August, following controversial remarks Trump made about a white supremacists rally in Charlottesville, Va. Trump has also complained sporadically about the high cost of prescription drugs. So Frazier’s snub provided a populist opportunity for Trump. “Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President’s Manufacturing Council,” the president tweeted, “he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!”
The NFL. Trump condemned the league on Twitter roughly two dozen times last year, urging fans to boycott any team with players who refused to stand for the national anthem. Trump’s tireless campaign against the league probably contributed to a ratings slump last year.
ESPN. After former anchor Jemele Hill called Trump a “white supremacist,” Trump tweeted, “With Jemele Hill at the mike, it is no wonder ESPN ratings have ‘tanked,’ in fact, tanked so badly it is the talk of the industry.” Disney (DIS), which competes with Time-Warner, owns ESPN.
The New York Times, or in Trumpspeak, the “failing New York Times.” Trump has a beef with many news organization, but the Times (NYT) has managed to draw more presidential ire than just about any other. Trump has attacked the paper at least 40 times on Twitter since becoming president, accusing it of “writing total fiction” and being “naïve (or dumb)” and “weak and ineffective.” That, despite the fact that Trump, himself, is widely considered to be one of the Times’ frequent off-the-record sources. Maybe Trump knows more than he lets on.
Confidential tip line: email@example.com. Encrypted communication available.
Rick Newman is the author of four books, including Rebounders: How Winners Pivot from Setback to Success. Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman