Steve Bannon, the former Breitbart News CEO and head of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, was appointed chief strategist for the president-elect’s new administration. The appointment has drawn ire from many who see Bannon as a leader in the Alt-Right’s white nationalist movement.
On Nov. 15, Rep. David Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island, announced that he, along with 168 fellow Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, had signed a letter asking Donald Trump to rescind his appointment of Bannon.
The decision “sends a disturbing message about what kind of president Donald Trump wants to be,” Cicilline wrote in a statement, according to the Boston Globe.
The letter, sent Nov. 16 to Trump at his office in Trump Tower, urges the president-elect to “build a diverse White House staff who are committed to the core American values of inclusiveness, diversity and tolerance.”
According to The Guardian, Republicans have refused to criticize Bannon despite growing concern.
“I don’t want to accuse a man of being antisemitic or racist whom I’ve never met,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, said. “I’ve never met [Bannon]. I wouldn’t know him if he walked in the door.”
Graham then added of Breitbart, “[T]he website in question was a friendly site to the alt-right. I don’t like them and they don’t like me and I’m glad.”
"The alt-right supports the mass deportation of undocumented immigrants and protectionist trade policies,” Thomas Main, a professor at Baruch College, CUNY, said, reports the Los Angeles Times. “It opposes feminism, diversity, gay rights, globalism, gun control and civil rights.”
Speaking from the Senate floor on Nov. 15, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid denounced Bannon’s appointment, notes the Guardian.
“If Trump is serious about seeking unity, the first thing he should do is rescind his appointment of Steve Bannon,” Reid said. “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.”