As Donald Trump is inaugurated as 45th president of the United States — yes, we found it hard to write that — it's worth taking another look at some of the deplorable types among his Cabinet, staff, advisers, and friends in the media. At the same time, we must remember there are plenty of elected officials, activists, and commentators who'll stand up to Trump and his minions. Read on to see some of those we'll be fighting and who'll be in our corner against them.
Trump Minion: Jeff Sessions
Sessions, one of the most anti-LGBT members of the U.S. Senate, is Trump's nominee for attorney general — the official who leads the Department of Justice and enforces the nation's laws. During his confirmation hearing, the Alabama Republican senator dismissed allegations of racism and tried to allay fears about his record, saying he'd follow the laws on LGBT protections, abortion rights, voting rights and other matters. But his record offers plenty of grounds for those fears; he's had a string of zeroes from the Human Rights Campaign during his tenure in the Senate. He voted to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage; spoke out against the Supreme Court marriage equality ruling; voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act; is a cosponsor of the so-called First Amendment Defense Act, which would allow discrimination against LGBT people and others in the name of “religious freedom”; voted against the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expanded the federal definition of hate crimes to include those based on sexual orientation, gender, and disability; and voted against repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell.” And as a U.S. attorney and Alabama attorney general, he took actions that were seen as racist and homophobic; allegations of racism kept him from being confirmed as a federal judge in 1986. He is nonetheless well-liked by most of his Senate colleagues and appears likely to be confirmed as the U.S. attorney general, with support even from moderate, pro-LGBT Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.
Our Ally: Cory Booker
Booker, the junior U.S. senator from New Jersey, took the bold step of testifying against Sessions during the confirmation hearing. It was the first time one sitting senator testified against another who's up for a Cabinet position. “If confirmed, Sen. Sessions will be required to pursue justice for women, but his record indicates that he won’t,” Booker said at the hearing. “He will be expected to defend the equal rights of gay and lesbian and transgender Americans, but his record indicates that he won’t. He will be expected to defend voting rights, but his record indicates that he won’t. He will be expected to defend the rights of immigrants and affirm their human dignity, but the record indicates that he won’t.” Even if Booker can't stop Sessions's confirmation, the young Democrat will be a reliable opponent of any nefarious deeds by Sessions, other Trump appointees, and the president himself. “There’s a lot of us, I’m not the only one, that have this posture where we’re preparing to be the resistance in the United States Senate,” Booker said shortly after the election.
Trump Minion: Steve Bannon
Breitbart executive Bannon brought with him a history of racist, sexist, and homophobic rhetoric when he became Trump’s campaign chairman last summer; he's now been tapped as Trump's chief strategist and senior counselor. Among his greatest hits, he has said that liberal women hate conservative women because the latter have husbands and children and aren’t “a bunch of dykes that came from the Seven Sisters schools.” A former employee at the conservative website, Kurt Bardella, told The Daily Beast last year that Bannon “made more off-color comments about minorities and homosexuals than I can recount.” Bardella left the company because of the toxic atmosphere. Bannon has also been accused of sexual assault by another former employee and of domestic violence by his ex-wife.
Our Ally: Chuck Schumer
New Yorker Schumer is now the U.S. Senate's Democratic leader, and he has vowed to stand up to Trump and all his minions, including Bannon. "Steve Bannon’s appointment to a senior White House post signals that many of his dangerous and bigoted ideas will have a seat at the table in the White House," Schumer said in a November speech. "We will be watching. And everyone here will be ready to actively stand up for one another if ever one group is attacked." And in an Advocate commentary that month, he wrote, "I will do all in my power to prevent any backsliding on hard-won rights and to push back against a national discourse that allows for anything less than a full measure of respect for all Americans and would-be Americans."
Trump Minion: Alex Jones
Jones, who runs a website called Infowars and has a radio program, is a leading conspiracy theorist of the right. He's also an admirer of Donald Trump. Lately he's been saying that there may be a coup, imposition of martial law, or deployment of nuclear weapons in order to prevent Trump's inauguration and keep President Obama in office. "If the people behind Obama would launch major wars in the last few years in places like Ukraine and start a war with Russia and move U.S. troops to the border with Poland and have all sorts of other provocative actions put in place and the federalizing of elections, and the acting like they don’t intend to leave, then anything is possible," he said this week. Well, Jones has also said he expected Hillary Clinton to have him killed, and that hasn't happened, so there isn't likely to be a coup to stop the inauguration. But Jones has a ready, credulous, and largely Trump-supporting audience, so look for his voice to be amplified in the coming months. Then again, with his hatred of people in power, perhaps he'll turn on Trump.
Our Ally: Rachel Maddow
We can always count on Maddow to speak truth to power and expose the crazies for who they are. “That is the pilot, the captain of American conspiracy theory mothership, Alex Jones,” the out host said on a September episode of her MSNBC show. She continued, "Part of the reason why we're so susceptible to conspiracy theories right now it because guys like Alex Jones make a ton of money circulating them as widely as they possibly can. They livestream their fake TV shows, and they make a very good living doing it. For every year they circulate their insane alien lizard people explanations of everything, we get a little bit dumber." But listening to Maddow can make us all smarter.
Trump Minion: Newt Gingrich
The former U.S. House speaker did not, as some expected, get nominated for a position in Trump's Cabinet, but he's enjoying a resurgence of his public profile by being a Trump partisan and adviser. Thursday he went on Fox & Friends to condemn the many Democratic members of Congress who are skipping the inauguration. "The inauguration is not about Republicans. It's not about Donald Trump. The inauguration is about America. Why would you abandon America?" he said. He also recently called for abolition of the Congressional Budget Office, which would lessen the oversight of Trump's actions as president. During the campaign, he’s made the rounds of talk shows defending Trump and even accused Megyn Kelly, then with Fox News, of being “obsessed with sex” and uninterested in public policy when she brought up the allegations of several women that Trump had sexually assaulted them.
Our Ally: Stephen Colbert
As the host of Late Night, Colbert hasn't left politics behind, and we're grateful for it. Among other things, he has schooled Gingrich on the difference between sex and assault. “First off, everybody is more fascinated with sex than public policy,” he said of Gingrich's exchange with Kelly. “If you’re not, there’s a pill for that now. But the thing is, [Kelly] isn’t talking about fun-time bedroom whoopee-making. ... Grabbing a lady because you’re a TV star is not sex; it’s assault. And fun fact, assault is a matter of public policy because it’s illegal — even if you use Tic Tacs.” Colbert has promised he will continue to stand up to Trump and his acolytes. “I’m all for giving [Trump] a chance, but don’t give him an inch. Because I believed everything he said, and I remember everything he said, and it’s horrifying,” Colbert said after the election. “He owes the checks and balances of Washington nothing, because they tried to stop him and they couldn’t. And he’s a vindictive person.”
Trump Minion: Rudy Giuliani
The former New York City mayor and district attorney also failed to get a Cabinet nomination, but Trump has named him a special adviser on cybersecurity. Giuliani also chairs the cybersecurity practice for a major law firm and has his own cybersecurity consulting business, and these associations have led critics to say Giuliani will have conflicts of interest — standing to enrich himself or his clients through advice he gives the president, although Giuliani has said there's no reason to worry. At any rate, Trump appears to be rewarding one of his most devoted surrogates for his extensive work during the campaign. Giuliani may have even played a key role in Trump's victory; he bragged that the Trump campaign had a “surprise” on the way — just a few days before news broke of that letter from FBI director James Comey about a further look at Hillary Clinton’s handling of emails when she was secretary of State. And that may have cost Clinton the election. Also during the campaign, Giuliani strongly implied that Clinton was not healthy enough to serve as president. The media, he said on Fox News, "fails to point out several signs of illness by her. All you've got to do is go online and put down 'Hillary Clinton illness,' take a look at the videos for yourself."
Our Ally: Keith Olbermann
Olbermann, who has a new political commentary gig as special correspondent for GQ, was quick to point out the irony and hypocrisy of Giuliani planting seeds of doubt about Clinton's health. During Giuliani's presidential and U.S. Senate runs, Olbermann pointed out, no one exploited his status as a cancer sufferer and, later, survivor. "Did any of your opponents have the gall to attack you over your own health?" Olbermann wrote on GQ's website. "Did any of your opponents do that when you were first diagnosed? While you were running for the Senate seat for New York [in 2000]? Whom were you running against again? Oh, right! Hillary Clinton!" Clinton, he noted, was nothing but gracious, wishing Giuliani a quick recovery. And when he had to drop out of the race, a reporter asked if she would miss him as an opponent, and she responded, "I think we should just wish him well as a person." We're confident that Olbermann will continue to hold Giuliani and other Trumpsters accountable — and Trump himself, of course.“Those of us who warned against and pleaded against and fought against this madness will find avenues for dissent which will have enough support at least to impede this monster,” Olbermann said of Trump.
Trump Minion: Roger Stone
Stone, a political strategist and pundit who campaigned extensively for Trump, is nearly a match for Alex Jones as a conspiracy theorist. Just this week he told Radar Online that he had been poisoned with polonium, saying, “I think this was a deep CIA plot to kill me and then claim the Russians did it.” Why? “The Democrats have been trying to tie me and the Trump campaign to Russian hacking,” he explained. When not imagining plots against himself, Stone has endorsed some of Trump's most offensive ideas, such as barring Muslims from entering the U.S., and offered ideas for getting around questions of constitutionality. “Maybe, in the end, the courts don’t allow him to temporarily ban Muslims,” he told The New Yorker last fall. “That’s fine — he can ban anybody from Egypt, from Syria, from Libya, from Saudi Arabia. He’s a Reagan-type pragmatist.”
Our Ally: Anthony Romero
But a lot of activists will be trying to block Trump from making blatantly unconstitutional moves, and one of the leaders in that fight will be the American Civil Liberties Union, headed by Anthony Romero, who happens to be gay. Many of Trump's proposals would “violate the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth Amendments to the Constitution,” Romero said in the same New Yorker article, and he promised that the ACLU will “challenge and impede implementation of his proposals.” Appearing on The Rachel Maddow Show shortly after the election, Romero said, “We're in for the fight of our lives,” but he noted that the ACLU is ready. The organization received $9 million and attracted 150,000 new members in the first few days after Trump's win. “Thirty percent comes from states that were carried by Donald Trump,” he told Maddow. “Not just San Francisco, L.A., and New York. We’ve got new donors and new contributors from Alabama, from Montana, from Mississippi, from Georgia. And that for me gives me hope that, in fact, there`s a growing movement of people who are concerned about where we’re going and want to take some action.”
Trump Minion: Roger Ailes
Ailes was forced to resign as CEO of Fox News last year after several women who'd worked at the cable channel accused him of sexual harassment. Quickly, though, he found a place in Trump's campaign, advising him on debate preparation. Ailes reportedly broke with the candidate in mid-October, when it appeared there was no way he could win the election, but Fox News had been laying the groundwork for Trump for a long time. "Roger Ailes spent two decades building Fox News into an organization that cultivated the conditions for Donald Trump's stunning victory," CNN's Brian Lowry wrote the day after the election. Among other things, Lowry noted, Fox encouraged distrust of other major media outlets, most of which weren't enthused about Trump, and gave him a lot of airtime before he was even a candidate. Now that Trump is president, we wonder if Ailes will want to be his friend again.
Our Ally: Samantha Bee
Bee, on her Full Frontal show, has taken down Trump and his deplorables, including Ailes, in the most hilarious way. She offered an incisive explanation of how Ailes's channel fueled Trump's rise. "Fortunately for Ailes, the job of Trump's debate coach isn't that hard," she said in September. "He doesn't need to make Trump sound smart because he's spent the last 20 years making voters dislike smart people. In a way, the Donald Trump campaign is the dark harbor Roger Ailes has been sailing toward his entire career. Trump's murky blend of politics and entertainment plus a healthy dash of racist fearmongering are nothing but the cask-aged distillation of a poison Roger Ailes started brewing years ago. As soon as Barack Obama began emerging as a viable candidate for president, Ailes's network began the important work of delegitimizing him, which often meant up-drafting fringe conspiracy theories into the mainstream." She added, "Like an alien pod, Roger Ailes attracted the GOP's interest, but oh no, he attached himself to the party's face and injected a lot of horrible stuff into them, and for a little while they felt fine, not realizing that Trump was gestating inside their party, until oh my God, it burst forth, killing the host and running for president." We look forward to her continued commentary on Trump and his sycophants.
Trump Minion: Sean Hannity
Among all the Fox News hosts, Hannity may have been Trump's biggest booster. “Hannity in this election cycle has allowed himself to become, in essence, an arm of the Trump campaign,” blogger Erik Wemple wrote in The Washington Post in September. “He has not only given Trump kissy interview after kissy interview after kissy interview. He has not only paid to fly Newt Gingrich to Indiana so that he could interview for the vice presidential nomination. He has not only advised Trump on his campaign. But he has also starred in a video promotion for the Trump campaign.” This week, Hannity attacked President Obama as a "rigid and divisive, radical ideologue" and predicted that Trump would be quick to undo Obama's policies. "After 100 days of Donald Trump — this is the truth — it will be like Barack Hussein Obama was never there," Hannity said on his program. Hannity, of course, thinks that's a good thing, but it's exactly what we're afraid of — and will do our best to prevent.
Our Ally: Michael Moore
The documentary filmmaker and champion of the working class is a liberal whom Hannity has actually praised, because Moore has said he understands why Trump attracted certain voters. “He realizes that there is a whole generation of people now, hardworking, tax-paying, long-suffering Americans, who have been keeping the country going through the hardest times — the people that built this country that are screwed over,” Hannity said in October. However, Moore spent the past year trying to convince these Americans that Trump would only screw them over much worse than anyone else has; the film Michael Moore in TrumpLand showed him taking this message to a group of them. Moore supported Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary season but campaigned energetically for Hillary Clinton once she won the nomination, and now he's committed to resisting Trump. As part of his announced 100 days of resistance, Moore led a huge protest against the president-elect Thursday outside the Trump International Hotel in New York City, where he was joined by Alec Baldwin, Cher, Julianne Moore, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Mark Ruffalo, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rosie Perez, Shailene Woodley, Robert DeNiro, Marisa Tomei, Sally Field, Natalie Merchant, and many others. "With a lot of work on our part, we will stop this man," Michael Moore told the crowd. "He will not last four years." He will also speak at the Women's March on Washington Saturday.