Vermont senator says appointment of ‘racist individual’ totally ‘unacceptable’; Elizabeth Warren co-authors letter to financial industry calling for denunciation of Trump’s new chief strategist

In this Nov. 3, 2016, photo, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., campaigns for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at the University of Cincinnati. (AP/John Minchillo)
In this Nov. 3, 2016, photo, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., campaigns for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at the University of Cincinnati. (AP/John Minchillo)


WASHINGTON, United States — Bernie Sanders on Wednesday urged Donald Trump to rescind his controversial appointment of Steve Bannon, a hero of American far-right extremists and executive at Breitbart News, as chief White House strategist.

The president-elect’s choice of Bannon — chair of the pro-Trump news platform Breitbart and a key figure in his victorious election campaign — has raised a chorus of protests to which Sanders forcefully added his voice.

“The appointment by President-elect Trump of a racist individual like Mr. Bannon to a position of authority is totally unacceptable,” the Vermont senator said in a statement.

Sanders, who lost to Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary, said decades of work toward making the United States a more tolerant society were at stake.

“This country, since its inception, has struggled to overcome discrimination of all forms: racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia,” he said.

“We are not going backward,” he warned. “In a democratic society we can disagree all we want over issues, but racism and bigotry cannot be part of any public policy,” Sanders warned.

“The appointment of Mr. Bannon by Mr. Trump must be rescinded.”

Trump’s camp rejects any suggestion that Bannon is a bigoted extremist, saying critics should look at his full resume — and emphasizing his record as a former naval officer, Goldman Sachs managing partner and Hollywood producer.

Also on Wednesday, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and a number of other Democratic lawmakers, including Congressman Keith Ellison sent an open letter to financial services trade groups demanding they condemn the appointment of Bannon.

“As leaders in the business community, you have a moral obligation to speak out against this appointment as contrary to the values of this country and to the values of your industry,” they wrote in their letter. “We urge you to condemn this appointment immediately and without reservation.”

“You have influence over the conduct of the next Administration and a clear opportunity to announce unequivocally that the banking and finance industry will not tolerate bigotry and prejudice,” the letter stated. “What message will it send to your customers and employees if you remain silent?”

Earlier Wednesday, 169 House Democratic members signed a lettersaying the appointment undermines Trump’s ability to unite the country.

“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,” the letter said.

Trump named the anti-establishment firebrand Bannon at the same time as he appointed top Republican Reince Priebus as his White House chief of staff, blending pragmatism with a rabble-rousing edge in the first appointments of his new administration.

Breitbart News, one of the most vociferously pro-Trump outlets during the presidential campaign, has been accused of racism and Islamophobia. Jewish critics have also accused it of anti-Semitism.

As executive chairman of Breitbart News from 2012, Bannon pushed a nationalist agenda and turned the publication into what he called “the platform for the alt-right,” a movement associated with white supremacist ideas that oppose multiculturalism.

The alt-right is an amorphous designation that includes among its ranks an array of white nationalists and neo-Nazis. A recent Anti-Defamation League report found that a dramatic spike in anti-Semitic harassment of journalists during the election was carried out by self-identified alt-right Trump backers.

As rpeorted by The Times of Israel