The senator nailed the DHS secretary for trying to cover for Trump's egregious racism.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen tried to be cagey about Donald Trump’s racism at a Senate hearing, but New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker was not about to let that stand.
At a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing of the Department of Homeland Security, Nielsen took several shots at avoiding the specifics of Trump’s racist Oval Office rant, but Booker tore her spurious claims of amnesia asunder in a withering condemnation of Trump’s racism.
Booker told Nielsen that he was “seething with anger” about Trump’s comments, and blasted Nielsen for swearing under oath that she could not remember them. He reminded her of a DHS report underlining the extreme threat represented by far-right groups, and of the threats that he and other senators of color have received.
“The commander in chief, in an Oval Office meeting, referring to people from African countries and Haitians with the most vile and vulgar language,” Booker said. “That language festers when ignorance and bigotry is alive with power. It is a dangerous force in our country.”
“Your silence and your amnesia is complicity,” Booker told Nielsen. “Right now in our nation, we have a problem. I dont know if 73 percent of your time is spent on white supremacist hate groups. I dont know if 73 percent of your time is spent concerned about the people in fear in communities in this country Sikh Americans, Muslim Americans, black Americans. The fact pattern is clear of the threats in this country.”
Booker added that when he learned of Trump’s comments, “I had tears of rage,” and “for you not to feel that pain hurt.”
“And that pain,” Booker continued, “and to dismiss some of the questions of my colleagues, saying ‘Ive already answered that line of questions,’ when tens of millions of Americans are hurting right now, because of what theyre worried about, what happened in the White House thats unacceptable to me.”
“There are threats in this country, people plotting,” Booker said. “I receive enough death threats to know the reality. Kamala receives enough death threats to know the reality. Mazie receives enough death threats to know the reality.”
“And Ive got a president of the United States, whose office I respect, who talks about the countries of origin of my fellow citizens in the most despicable of manner,” Booker said, angrily adding, “You dont remember, you cant remember the words of your commander in chief? I find that unacceptable.”
Booker’s impassioned speech should demonstrate, to every American, the stakes for covering up the sort of racism that Donald Trump has elevated to the highest office in the land. As Booker notes, even if Nielsen wasn’t listening closely, those who would do violence in the name of racism are, and Trump is emboldening them.