President-elect Donald Trump dispatched team members to defend his decision to appoint Steve Bannon as chief strategist in the White House, Politico reports.

Democrats and human rights organizations oppose the appointment, and establishment Republicans are largely avoiding the issue.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors extremist hate groups, is leading a petition drive urging Trump to reverse the appointment of Bannon, who took a leave of absence as the executive chairman of Breitbart News to join the Trump campaign.

SPLC states in the petition:

“In July, Bannon boasted that Breitbart News was ‘the platform for the alt-right.’ The alt-right, as we know, is simply a rebranding of white nationalism and is the energy behind the avalanche of racist and anti-Semitic harassment that plagued social media platforms for the entire presidential campaign.”

Reince Priebus, Trump’s newly appointed chief of staff, appeared on NBC’s Today show Monday and vouched for Bannon’s character, calling him “a guy who is very, very smart, very temperate.”

Priebus, the Republican National Committee chairman, added: “The guy I know is a guy sitting in an office all day yesterday, talking about hiring and in the last few months, this is a guy who has exhibited none of those qualities.”

Bannon defenders are pointing to his credentials, as though his resume precludes him from being a racist.

Priebus highlighted Bannon’s Harvard Business School degree and service as a naval officer.

In her comments to reporters, Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway echoed Priebus:

“People should look at the full resume. He has got a Harvard business degree. He’s a naval officer. He has success in entertainment. I don’t know if you’re aware of that. And he certainly was a Goldman Sachs managing partner. Brilliant tactician.”

None of that eases concerns about Bannon’s close ties with the alt-right. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said, “Bannon has boasted that he made Breitbart News ‘the platform for the alt-right,’ which is the politically correct term for the resurrection of white nationalism,” according to Politico.

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said Bannon and the alt-right are “hostile to core American values.”

He tweeted:

“It is a sad day when a man who presided over the premier website of the ‘alt-right’ — a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists — is slated to be a senior staff member in the ‘people’s house.’”

However, Conway said she’s “personally offended” by the notion that Bannon is part of the alt-right or that she would oversee a campaigned guided by that ideology. “It was not,” she insisted. “Fifty-six million-plus Americans or so saw something else.”

Despite the assurances, like many other Democrats, House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sees a red flag with the Bannon appointment.

Pelosi explained her concerns in this statement from her office:

“Bringing Steve Bannon into the White House is an alarming signal that President-elect Trump remains committed to the hateful and divisive vision that defined his campaign. There must be no sugarcoating the reality that a white nationalist has been named chief strategist for the Trump Administration.”

She added that her party is wants to find “common ground” on behalf of “hard-working families.” However, Democrats will not standby if the Trump administration “scapegoat and persecute” groups of Americans they don’t like.

SOURCE: Politico, Today 

SEE ALSO:

Should Steve Bannon Be In The Trump Administration?

What If Donald Trump Wins The Election?

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