At least 120 House Democrats have signed a letter demanding President-elect Donald Trump rescind his appointment of Breitbart News chief Steve Bannon as chief strategist. The effort was led by Rhode Island Representative David Cicilline, while Democrats in the Senate have also spoken out.
Cicilline is reportedly circulating the letter, which blasts Bannon and calls for his withdrawal, among members of the House, The Boston Globe reported. A spokesman for Cicilline said that the letter has the support of the entire House delegations from north Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
According to The Globe, the letter criticizes Bannon’s previous work with the alt-right website Breitbart News and notes that Trump’s decision to give Bannon such a senior position in his administration runs against his promise to be president for all Americans.
“Your appointment of Stephen Bannon, whose ties to the White Nationalist movement have been well-documented, directly undermines your ability to unite the country,” Cicilline wrote.
“As the Executive Chairman of Breitbart News, Mr Bannon repeatedly and aggressively pushed stories that promote anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and racism,” he continued. “During an interview last summer, Mr Bannon bragged that Breitbart was ‘the platform for the alt-right,’ a movement that upholds White Nationalism while strongly rejecting diversity in any form.”
A statement announcing the letter stated the full list of signers would be revealed on Wednesday (16 November), the Globe reported.
The letter comes as several members of the Senate are pushing back against Bannon’s appointment. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) gave an impassioned speech on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday (15 November) calling on Trump to remove Bannon.
Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley also urged the president-elect to rescind his appointment during a news conference with two other Senate Democrats and their soon-to-be colleague, Maryland Representative Chris Van Hollen, Politico reported. “We call on President-elect Trump to exclude the proponents of discrimination and hatred from the ranks of his administration, and that includes immediately firing Steve Bannon as his chief strategist,” Merkley said.
“Quite frankly,” added Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono, “it’s sad that we are having a debate about whether a white supremacist should serve as a senior counselor to the president-elect.”
Trump has faced a wave of criticism since appointing Bannon as his chief strategist. New Jersey Senator Cory Booker blasted Bannon as a man who led a website “that promotes truly radical views about race and religion”.
According to Politico, Booker warned, “Bannon won’t build bridges, he will burn them. He is unfit to advise America’s commander-in-chief. Donald Trump should reverse the decision to hire him and chart a different course for the good of the American people.”
In a similar Facebook post, Minnesota Senator Al Franken referred to Bannon as “a white nationalist who for years has stoke hatred.” He wrote: “White supremacists have made it clear that they see Bannon as their advocate in a Trump Administration, which is not only disturbing, but also dangerous for millions upon millions of people in Minnesota and across the country.”
Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway defended Bannon and said he has been “strategically” absent from interviews or public appearances. “I know him well. I work hand-in-glove with him and I feel that these charges are very unfair,” she said on NBC’s Today show.