International

Activists, Democrats outraged by Trump team

President-elect Donald Trump met several of his critics in the Republican Party over the week, but the appointments that he already announced have only fuelled fears that the hardline racial and religious agenda that defined his campaign could continue into the government.

Mr. Trump has selected Jeff Sessions as Attorney General (AG) and Michael Flynn as National Security Adviser (NSA). The U.S Senate had voted down Mr. Sessions’ nomination as a federal judge in 1980s, owing to his controversial measures and words against African Americans, in his capacity as a U.S attorney. Mr. Flynn has made a series of controversial comments about Muslims, African-Americans and Jews through the campaign.

Civil rights activists and the Democrats, who fear that the incoming administration will push a divisive agenda, are watching the emerging Trump team with increasing alarm. Mr. Sessions “will likely lead a 180-degree turn of the Department of Justice,” said Conservative Review, a right-wing platform, indicating that the fears are not invalid.

President Barack Obama appointed the first African-American and the first African-American woman as AGs over his two terms, Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, respectively. These two steered the Justice Department into proactive measures to protect civil and human rights. They also opposed laws enacted by many Republican States that in effect restricted the voting rights of African-Americans and racial profiling of populations by the police.

Mr. Sessions, the incoming AG, has a history of characterising African-American voter registration drives as voter fraud. The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) described his appointment as “deeply troubling.”

‘Questionable fitness’

NAACP President Cornell William Brooks said in a statement: “Based on the disdain for our nation’s civil rights laws that Senator Sessions has consistently demonstrated throughout his career, his fitness to be the chief protector and enforcer of them falls into dire question…[He] was denied appointment as a federal judge in 1986 for a slew of racist comments, including calling the work of the NAACP and ACLU ‘Un-American.’ He has also repeatedly spoken out against the federal Voting Rights Act. We just lived through the first presidential election in over 50 years without the Act’s full protections and witnessed the suppression of millions of votes. To appoint an Attorney-General who dismisses the need for these critical protections is even more despicable and unacceptable.”

Mr. Obama has said he would not comment on appointment being made by the President-elect. However, other Democrats are outraged. Senator Elizabeth Warren said in a statement: “Instead of embracing the bigotry that fuelled his campaign rallies, I urge President-elect Trump to reverse his apparent decision to nominate Senator Sessions…if he refuses, then it will fall to the Senate to exercise fundamental moral leadership for our nation and all of its people…thirty years ago, a different Republican Senate rejected Senator Sessions’ nomination to a federal judgeship. In doing so, that Senate affirmed that there can be no compromise with racism; no negotiation with hate. Today, a new Republican Senate must decide whether self-interest and political cowardice will prevent them from once again doing what is right.”

Retired Army Lt-General Flynn’s appointment as NSA raises concerns not only from the domestic political perspective but also regarding what it entails to U.S.’ relations with the world. Mr. Flynn is a votary of closer relations with Russia — a key piece of Mr. Trump’s worldview that contradicts bipartisan consensus in the U.S and Republican orthodoxy.

Among other things, Mr. Flynn has also stated in the recent past that the fear of Muslims is rational. Mr. Trump has said Mr. Flynn will be a “an invaluable asset” to him and his administration.

Agrees to settle suits

Meanwhile, Mr. Trump has agreed to pay $25 million to settle a series of lawsuits against his now defunct venture Trump University. The President-elect was required to appear for trial soon, and by settling the cases, he has avoided it.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Dec 3, 2020 11:43:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/Activists-Democrats-outraged-by-Trump-team/article16668464.ece

Next Story