Yarmuth, Democrats call on Trump to withdraw Bannon appointment

11/16/2016 04:45 PM

Democratic lawmakers, including Kentucky U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, are calling on President-elect Donald Trump to withdraw his appointment of Steve Bannon as White House chief strategist.

Yarmuth, D-Louisville, joined more than 140 Democratic colleagues in penning a letter to the President-elect, calling for Bannon’s appointment to be withdrawn on Tuesday.

In the letter, Yarmuth and his Democratic colleagues said they felt Trump struck the right chord in his election night speech calling for unity, but his appointment of the former executive chairman of the right-wing website Breitbart News “undermines” unity.

“Unfortunately, your appointment of Stephen Bannon, whose ties to the White Nationalist movement have been well-documented, directly undermines your ability to unite the country,” the letter reads. “As elected representatives of millions of Americans from diverse backgrounds, religions, and ethnicities, we strongly urge you to reconsider your decision to appoint Mr. Bannon to White House Chief Strategist.”

Citing violence and other extreme incidents across the country since the election targeting Muslim Americans, African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Jewish Americans, the group says the appointment of Bannon sends a message to extremists.

“Mr. Bannon’s appointment sends the wrong message to people who have engaged in those types of activities, indicating that they will not only be tolerated, but endorsed by your Administration,” Yarmuth and others write. “Millions of Americans have expressed fear and concern about how they will be treated by the Trump Administration and your appointment of Mr. Bannon only exacerbates and validates their concerns.”

Bannon’s appointment has been cheered by white nationalists including former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke who told CNN the appointment is “excellent.”

“I think that anyone that helps complete the program and the policies that President-elect Trump has developed during the campaign is a very good thing, obviously,” Duke told CNN. “So it’s good to see that he’s sticking to the issues and the ideas that he proposed as a candidate. Now he’s president-elect and he’s sticking to it and he’s reaffirming those issues.”

In the letter sent to Trump, Yarmuth and his Democratic colleagues point to Duke and others who are applauding the decision.

“Disturbingly, leading white nationalists like former KKK Grand Dragon David Duke, American Nazi Party Chairman Rocky J. Suhadya, Richard Spencer, Peter Brimelow, and Brad Griffin have praised the news of Mr. Bannon’s appointment,” the letter says. “We believe it should concern you that civil rights groups, including the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center, are widely opposed to Mr. Bannon’s appointment.

“We strongly believe that Mr. Bannon’s appointment will not allow the country to heal and come together as one,” the letter continues. “As one of your top advisors, the White House chief strategist will help set the tone for your administration. The person in this role must be prepared to serve the interests of all Americans, not those of a select few.”


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