Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is not backing down from criticizing President-elect Donald Trump. He delivered a speech from the Senate floor today, calling on Trump to rescind his appointment of Steve Bannon, "a champion of white supremacy," as his chief strategist.
In his first press conference since Trump was elected, President Obama said he told the president-elect that "gestures matter" in reference to his appointment of Bannon. Reid held him to the same standard Tuesday.
"We failed to hold Trump accountable," said the Nevada Democratic senator. "We all bear major responsibility for normalizing his behavior."
"If Trump is serious about seeking unity, the first thing he should do is rescind his appointment of Steve Bannon. Rescind it. Don't do it. Think about this. Don't do it," Reid said. "As long as a champion of racial division is a step away from the Oval Office, it will be impossible to take Trump's efforts to heal the nation seriously."
Bannon is a former executive with the alt-right website Breitbart and was chairman of Trump's presidential campaign. He has a history of making racist, sexist, and homophobic statements. He has been accused of sexual assault by a former employee and domestic violence by his ex-wife.
"Rise to the dignity of the office of the president of the United States instead of hiding behind your Twitter account," Reid continued. "And show America that racism, bullying, and bigotry have no place in your White House or America."
Reid was criticized and threatened Sunday by Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway. Reid released a statement Friday saying Trump's upset victory over Hillary Clinton "emboldened the forces of hate and bigotry in America."
Reid wrote Friday that it was up to Trump to heal the nation. He called Trump a "sexual predator who lost the popular vote." "Winning the electoral college does not absolve Trump of the grave sins he committed against millions of Americans," wrote Reid. Conway responded by going on Fox News and saying that Reid "should be very careful about characterizing somebody, in a legal sense."
Chris Wallace of Fox News asked Conway if she was suggesting Trump may sue Reid for speaking out, and Conway replied, "No, I'm not suggesting that at all." Trump has a history of attempting to intimidate those who criticize him. He threatened to sue People magazine after one of its writer accused Trump of sexual assault.
Reid responded to Conway's statements, saying, "It only took five days for President-elect Trump to try to silence his critics with the threat of legal action. This should shock and concern all Americans."
Several other members of Congress have come out in opposition to Bannon, such as Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Sen. Cory Booker. U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen held a press conference (photo below) and said, "If Donald Trump really wants to be a 'president for all Americans,' he can start by rescinding his job offer to Steve Bannon. He has no place in the White House."