Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California said Tuesday that Donald Trump’s choice of Stephen Bannon as senior advisor inflames fears spreading along with hostile acts against minorities.
“Virtually everyone who has contacted my office has expressed shock that Bannon, so closely linked to anti-Semitic and misogynistic opinions, will have the ear of the president,” said Feinstein, the highest ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Feinstein said there’s an atmosphere of fear, comparing it to when San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk were assassinated in 1978. Feinstein became mayor after the slayings.
“In the last week, Muslim university students were attacked for their faith, Latino students humiliated by peers who say they’ll be deported, Confederate flags and racist slurs used to intimidate African-Americans, and swastikas and Nazi propaganda spray painted on buildings. That’s not the America I know,” Feinstein said in a written statement.
She said Trump’s selection of Bannon “will only further inflame those fears.”
Bannon, who Trump named as his chief White House strategist and senior counselor, headed Breitbart News, whose headlines included a call to hoist the Confederate flag in the weeks after the mass shooting at a black church in Charleston, S.C.
Other Breitbart headlines under Bannon’s leadership called Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol “a renegade Jew,” said “birth control makes women unattractive and crazy” and that “the solution to online harassment is simple: women should log off.”
“I’m hopeful that Donald Trump will hear the millions of outraged voices and decide to surround himself with advisors who respect all Americans. Someone known for belittling minorities, immigrants and women has no place advising the president,” Feinstein said.
Other California Democrats in Congress have also condemned Bannon.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, however, this week defended Trump’s right to choose Bannon as his senior advisor. Bannon had been Trump’s campaign chairman.
McCarthy said he heard from Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, Trump’s pick for chief of staff, that the kinds of things reflected by the Breitbart headlines are “not the Steve Bannon that he knows.”
“I’ve always believed in giving somebody a chance,” McCarthy said. “I don’t like to prejudge people from others. Did he say it or are we putting everything that was in Breitbart under him?”