HARTFORD, CT — They can’t do anything about it, but Connecticut Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy are troubled by president-elect Donald Trump’s appointment of Stephen K. Bannon as chief strategist.
The former chairman of the Breitbart web site, Bannon, according to Blumenthal, is “associated with a website that deals in anti-Semitic, racist, xenophobic, misogynic comments. He really should have no place in a position of authority in the upcoming administration.”
Blumenthal said he’s hoping Trump would reconsider the Bannon’s appointment.
“It sends a terrible message in light of his stated intention to bring the country together and bridge divisions,” Blumenthal said. “I strongly support that effort to come together and establish common ground.”
He said the appointment is a “wrong turn” for the incoming administration.
There is no Congressional confirmation process over the appointment, which also has received criticism from the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Southern Poverty Law Group.
Southern Poverty Law Center President Richard Cohen said Monday that the alt-right movement, to which the Breitbart website caters, “is simply a rebranding of white nationalism and is the energy behind the avalanche of racist and anti-Semitic harassment that plagued social media platforms for the entire presidential campaign.”
Jason Miller, communications director for the Trump presidential transition, said Monday morning in a CNN interview that Trump has taken a “very measured tone” since winning the election.
Miller said it’s “irresponsible” of the media to focus on the divisions created during the campaign.
Blumenthal said Bannon’s appointment “threatens to impede and undercut the president-elect’s stated intention … to bring the country together and heal the open wounds.”
Murphy said a Pakistani mother was worrying out loud about what a Trump administration might mean for her and her family and was told by her middle school aged son that she shouldn’t worry because he didn’t tell anyone in his class that they were Muslim and they would be able to hide.
“Some version of that conversation is happening in every corner of this country,” Murphy said.
Murphy said he was pleased to listen to the 60 Minutes interview Sunday and hear Trump tell his supporters there was no room for hatred or bias in his administration, “but the appointment of Steve Bannon runs directly contrary to the positive messages Donald Trump has been sending.”
Immigrant and Muslim families are “worried about what the next four years will hold,” Murphy said. “These presidential appointment announcements don’t allay those fears at all. This announcement was very troubling.”
He said the fears in these communities are real and the Trump administration is going to have to make sure that immigrant kids and Muslim kids know that they are safe.
“Right now I’m not sure that they feel that,” Murphy said.
Blumenthal said they may not have any say over Bannon’s appointment but the “poisoning of the waters” with his appointment will be “consequential for president-elect Trump when he takes office.”
He said whether it’s a Supreme Court nominee or a cabinet member, they want to work with the president.
“We want the president to succeed, but this appointment of Steve Bannon is a wrong turn and it sends a signal that he is not following the conviction he laid out that he wanted to bridge these divisions. I just want to emphasize that actions speak louder than words,” Blumenthal said.
Of Bannon, Blumenthal said Bannon is an individual associated with “xenophobic, racist, anti-Semitic comments should have no place in the White House.”
U.S. Rep. John B. Larson also released a statement regarding Bannon’s appointment today:
“As the duly elected president, Donald Trump is entitled to appoint whoever he chooses to his White House,” Larson said. “However, this choice has left many Americans — including a number of my constituents — deeply disturbed and sincerely troubled. In the words of the late Maya Angelou, ‘When someone shows you who they are, believe them; the first time.’ The content Bannon curated in his role at Breitbart News has more than shown who he is.”