During a Senate hearing on religious hate crimes, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) had one simple question for Eric Treene, Special Counsel For Religious Discrimination: what message does Steve Bannon’s presence in the White House send to those who commit hate crimes?
“Either through missteps or associations with controversial figures, the White House fails to speak clearly in opposition to bias and hate. I’m curious what message you think it sends to individuals who may engage in that kind of reprehensible behavior when the president selects Steve Bannon as his chief strategist.”
Treene, though, would not bite, answering instead:
“The message I feel strongest as a prosecutor and as a attorney for the Department of Justice is the consistent message I’ve gotten from the Attorney General to pursue hate crimes.”
Franken called Treene out for not answering the rather straightforward question, and continued to press the attorney, who – although appearing visibly shaken – refused to respond to the Senator on multiple occasions.
Since Trump assumed the Presidency, there have been over 150 bomb threats on Jewish community centers; hate crimes have risen in the United States by 20%; and anti-Muslim groups have tripled.
With regard to Breitbart, “the site,” Franken said, “has trafficked in an ideology of racism, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, anti-Muslim propaganda and anti-Semitism.”
While the Department of Justice under President Trump espouses its tepid and transparent support of civil rights protections, actions speak louder than words. By hiring Steve Bannon as his Chief Strategist, Trump has proven that he would rather promote an agenda based on tribalism than inclusiveness. With hate crimes on the rise – and showing no signs of letting up – Trump alone is to blame for this disturbing and unfortunate trend.
Watch the entire exchange below: