WASHINGTON — Speaking on the Senate floor, outgoing Minority Leader Harry Reid, denounced president-elect Donald Trump and implored Americans not to normalize him.
“This election has sparked a wave of hate crimes across America,” Reid said.
He cited 315 accounts of incidents of harassment and intimidation from the Southern Poverty Law Center, and added a compilation of the events to the Senate record.
Reid, D-Nev.,expressed some optimism that Democrats could work with Trump on bipartisan issues, like repairing the nation’s infrastructure. But he focused on his concerns for the “millions of Americans sitting at home, afraid they are not welcome in Trump’s America.”
“It is not normal for the KKK to celebrate the election of a president they view as their champion,” the partisan leader said.
The Senate leader, who did not run for reelection, also touched on Trump’s appointment of Steve Bannon to chief strategist, saying he was concerned about Bannon drawing support from the KKK. Reid quoted the left-leaning ACLU, which said “Bannon was a main driver of the white nationalist propaganda mill.”
Bannon was chief executive of the Trump campaign and also executive chairman of Breitbart News, a conservative website associated with the alt-right. The far right movement rejects mainstream conservatism and is sometimes linked to anti-semitism and white nationalism. Bannon’s current relationship with Breitbart is unclear.
Reid’s counterpart, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, called for unity and optimism as the Senate reconvened for its lame duck session.
“This election was long and it was tough,” said McConnell, R-Ky. “I think everyone is glad it’s over, and I think Americans are ready to come together and move the country forward.”
Reid’s remarks were not his first on the election results — he put out a statement Friday denouncing the president-elect and the reactions of fringe groups to the outcome.
“The election of Donald Trump has emboldened the forces of hate and bigotry in America,” Reid wrote in the statement. “White nationalists, Vladimir Putin and ISIS are celebrating Donald Trump’s victory, while innocent, law-abiding Americans are wracked with fear – especially African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Muslim Americans, LGBT Americans and Asian Americans.”
Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s former campaign manager, told Fox News Sunday that Reid should be “very careful” about criticizing the president-elect.
“I get a lot of credit for managing this campaign, and that’s nice, but we were a very solid team—focused, cohesive and frankly very much in agreement with the strategy, and he (Bannon) was a big part of that,” she added on the TODAY Show on Monday. “This man believes in President-elect Trump’s vision, and he is there to support his vision.”
Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee and recent appointee as Trump’s White House chief of staff, said on NBC’s TODAY show Monday that Bannon is being inaccurately characterized.
“The guy I know is a guy sitting in an office all day yesterday talking about hiring, talking about people,” Priebus said. “Here’s a guy who is Harvard Business School, he was a ten-year naval officer, London School of Economics, I believe. He is a guy who is very, very smart, very temperate.”