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Critics Decry Trump's Controversial Chief Strategist Pick

Critics are accusing president-elect Donald Trump of pandering to white nationalism with the appointment of a controversial figure as chief strategist in his administration.

Steve Bannon is the chairman of Breitbart News and served as a strategist for Trump's presidential campaign before the businessman-turned-president appointed him to the senior post Nov. 13.

Breitbart is a popular website among the "alt-right," and has been accused of peddling anti-Semitic, nationalist and racist stories under Bannon's stewardship.

The site's staff aligned themselves with Trump early in his presidential bid, and parted ways with two staffers -- former writer Michelle Fields and former editor Ben Shapiro -- after Fields accused Trump's former campaign manager of assaulting her.

Bannon's appointment was condemned by groups like the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

"It is a sad day when a man who presided over the premier website of the 'alt-right' -- a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists -- is slated to be a senior staff member in the 'people's house,'" Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, wrote in a statement posted to Twitter.

Some Republicans were also highly critical of the appointment.

"Just to be clear news media, the next president named a racist, anti-semite as the co-equal of the chief of staff," John Weaver, an advisor to Ohio Gov. John Kasich, tweeted Nov. 13.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations weighed in as well, issuing a statement saying that Bannon's appointment “sends the disturbing message that anti-Muslim conspiracy theories and white nationalist ideology will be welcome in the White House," according to The New York Times.

But Kellyanne Conway, Trump's campaign manager, defended Bannon. She pointed to his degree from Harvard Business School, his past as a naval officer, and his role in producing several movies, and told reporters that Bannon is not a white nationalist.

“I’m personally offended that you think I would manage a campaign where that would be one of the going philosophies,” Conway said.

Sources: CNN, The New York Times, Jonathan Greenblatt/Twitter, John Weaver/Twitter / Photo credit: The New York Times

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