U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's choice for one of his top advisors stirred controversy on Monday, drawing harsh criticism from the Anti-Defamation League and Democratic Party figures.
Trump announced on Sunday that Steve Bannon, his campaign’s chief executive and the former chairman of the conservative website Breitbart News, will serve as his chief strategist and senior counselor. Trump also announced that Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus will serve as his chief of staff.
In a sharp rebuke, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt condemned Bannon's appointment and accused him of harboring anti-Semitic and white supremacist views. In a tweet, Greenblatt said that Bannon and "his alt-right" are "hostile to core American values."
"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 'peoples' house," Greenblatt said in a statement.
"We call on President-elect Trump to appoint and nominate Americans committed to the well-being of all our country's people and who exemplify the values of pluralism and tolerance that make our country great," the statement said.
The progressive Israel lobby J Street said in a statement that Bannon "has an extensive history of championing the views of the extreme right in the United States and around the world.
"He and his website have a history of aggressively targeting individuals and organizations, including J Street, with vicious attacks that show no regard for basic decency and tolerance, or for the truth."
J Street said that Bannon's appointment was "alarming and unacceptable" and gives many groups '"legitimate reason to fear that their rights may be threatened by a Trump administration." It accused Trump of "fanning the flames of hatred" by appointing Bannon.
“Enough is enough," the National Jewish Democratic Council said in a statement. "We had planned to withhold judgment on the president-elect, giving him time to make his administration appointments, but his choice of Steve Bannon as chief strategist and senior advisor is wrong."
“We fear … that Trump’s choice of Steve Bannon is just the first appointment of many individuals who have engaged in, or at least, tolerated anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia," the statement continued.
The Reform movement also issued a statement saying they were "deeply disturbed" over the Bannon appointment. Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, noted that "both in his roles as editor of the Breitbart website and as a strategist in the Trump campaign, Mr. Bannon was responsible for the advancement of ideologies antithetical to our nation, including anti-Semitism, misogyny, racism and Islamophobia. There should be no place for such views in the White House."
The spokesman for outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) also decried the naming of Bannon as Trump's advisor. "Trump's choice of Bannon as his top aide signals that White Supremacists will be represented at the highest levels in Trump's White House," Adam Jentleson said. "It is easy to see why the KKK views Trump as their champion when Trump appoints Bannon as his top aide," referring to the Ku Klux Klan.
Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) said that Trump's choice of Bannon is "unsurprising but alarming," adding that Bannon's "alt-right, anti-Semitic and misogynistic views don't belong" in the White House.
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