U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri on Wednesday signed a letter to President-elect Donald Trump, urging him to rescind his appointment of former Breitbart News chief Stephen Bannon as White House chief strategist.
The letter, signed by Cleaver and 169 of his fellow Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, said Bannon’s ties to the white nationalist movement undermine Trump’s ability to unite the country.
“As the executive Chairman of Breitbart News, Mr. Bannon repeatedly and aggressively pushed stories that promote anti-Semistism, xenophobia, and racism,” the letter said.
Cleaver said his office has received many calls from Missourians worried about Bannon’s role in the Trump administration.
“We are a nation in desperate need of some kind of healing,” Cleaver said in an interview. The appointment of Bannon, he said, did nothing to eliminate many people’s fear and pain.
Missouri’s Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill also spoke out against the Bannon appointment on Wednesday. She tweeted a link to a Breitbart article headlined, “Birth Control makes women unattractive and crazy,” along with her response:
“Birth control does not make women crazy,” McCaskill wrote. “A man who allows that headline in his publication is. Unacceptable choice.”
A growing number of Democratic lawmakers are speaking out against Bannon’s appointment, but Congress has no legislative power over his post. As Trump’s top policy adviser, Bannon serves at his request and is not subject to Senate confirmation or other forms of congressional oversight.
Jason Miller, a spokesman for Trump’s campaign, defended Bannon to reporters at Trump Tower on Wednesday.
Miller disputed the characterization of Bannon as anti-Semitic or a white supremacist, calling him a “fantastic example of really being inclusive. Someone who’s embraced diversity at every step.”
He said Bannon’s critics were “just folks that are bitter the election’s over. They didn’t get the result that they wanted.”