Donald Trump has packed a surplus of uncertainty for Big Business into his already tumultuous presidency. Gone, for the most part, are the Twitter darts he aimed at companies he accused on the campaign trail of underinvesting in the U.S. Instead, he has welcomed a parade of executives into the West Wing for boardroom-style jawboning sessions.
Participants, including some Trump maligned as a candidate, have left feeling that they have a partner in the White House—a sentiment reflected in the market rally that followed his election, powered by hopes of tax cuts, regulatory rollbacks, and new infrastructure spending. (See our cover story for an in-depth look at what the new Trumponomics might ultimately mean for business and the economy.)
But while Trump’s assurances have soothed some executive nerves frayed by his populist campaign rhetoric, his actions—namely the legally challenged travel ban—have galvanized other corporate leaders to push back. Silicon Valley tech barons, many of whom are immigrants themselves and rely heavily on foreign-born engineering talent, were first into the breach when the Trump administration stunned the world with the executive order on Jan. 27. (Some were pushed to act in part by vocal grass-roots protests to the ban—blowback that apparently even compelled Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to quit Trump’s business advisory council a day before its inaugural meeting.) Other chief executives with globe-spanning operations, from Ford’s (F) Mark Fields to J.P. Morgan Chase’s (JPM) Jamie Dimon, also weighed in with tempered criticism. But tech—an industry Trump targeted for abuse as a candidate—remains the tip of the corporate spear pointed back at him, with nearly 130 companies from the sector formally supporting the legal challenge against the order.
Beyond the substance of the ban, though, the process that yielded it and some two dozen other executive actions taken during the first weeks of Trump’s presidency have sent new ripples of anxiety through C-suite ranks. Of particular worry: the sense that many in the highest levels of the Trump administration haven’t been consulted on significant policy changes ahead of time—and often don’t seem to know what’s coming. That, in turn, has left some otherwise supportive business leaders wondering if the Trump White House has the focus to shepherd through Congress complex overhauls of the tax system and growth-choking regulation that many companies are counting on.
And then there’s the important question of who has the President’s ear: hard-right voices like chief strategist Steve Bannon (who seems to have seized an early advantage) or more business-friendly figures like Gary Cohn, the former Goldman Sachs (GS) president now serving as Trump’s top economist.
The President, for instance, has promised to unveil a “phenomenal” tax-reform package in the next few weeks—a Cohn project that may slash corporate rates nearly in half. But then, who knows? Even that may be upstaged by the next round of immigration-enforcement measures or by a sudden Twitter war with a major trading partner. For now, Big Business is discovering that, in the Trump universe, it may not be that special after all. Just like everybody else, it has to wait to find out what comes next.
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A version of this article appears in the March 1, 2017 issue of Fortune with the headline “Business Waits in Limbo.”