Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday accused President-elect Donald Trump of placing a “champion of white supremacists” a mere “step away from the Oval Office.”
Reid made his incendiary comments against the appointment of Steve Bannon, who rose to prominence as the executive chairman of the alt-right website Breitbart, on the Senate floor.
“What message does Trump send to the young girl who woke up Wednesday afraid to be a woman of colour in America?” the outgoing minority leader asked.
“It is certainly not a message of healing.”
Bannon was announced on Sunday as Trump’s chief White House strategist, a move that prompted a frenzy of condemnation from both liberals and conservatives. As the head of Breitbart, Bannon steered the website toward the fringes of the right, championing nationalistic and anti-immigrant rhetoric. He once described it as “the platform for the alt-right.”
Reid noted that, as a result, white nationalists had praised Trump’s White House appointment of Bannon.
“If Trump is serious about seeking unity, the first thing he should do is rescind his appointment of Steve Bannon,” Reid said.
The Nevada senator continued: “As long as a champion of racial division is a step away from the Oval Office, it will be impossible to take Trump’s efforts to heal the nation seriously. So I say to Donald Trump: take responsibility.”
“Rise to the dignity of the office instead of hiding behind your Twitter account,” Reid concluded. “And show America that racism, bullying and bigotry have no place in your White House.”
Reid’s comments on the Senate floor came just days after he released a scathing statement in which he said Trump’s election had “emboldened the forces of hate and bigotry.” In the statement, the five-term senator called Trump a “sexual predator.”
On Sunday, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway warned Reid to be careful in a “legal sense” when criticising the president-elect.
President Barack Obama has declined to comment on Trump’s appointment of Bannon.
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