'US moral integrity at risk': lawyer condemns Trump's Bannon appointment


Democrats and Republicans alike are protesting President-elect Donald Trump's appointment of Stephen Bannon as chief strategist.

Both Democrats and Republicans are protesting the appointment of far-right publication Breitbart News chairman Stephen Bannon as chief strategist in the White House.

As widely reported, Mr Bannon promotes anti-semitic, racist and misogynist rhetoric and is backed by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

In court documents dating back to 2007, and viewed by the Associated Press, Mr Bannon's ex-wife Mary Louise Piccard said he did not want their children to attend the elite Archer School for Girls in Los Angeles because he didn’t want them going to school with Jewish students.

Mr Bannon has denied making the comments.

US civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson told CNN, “the moral integrity of this nation" was at risk.

"We have great wealth in America, we have great power, and I really do believe in that Biblical injunction that says to whom much is given, much is required," he said.

He said the US must use its status “thoughtfully, responsibly, carefully – otherwise we become abusive, we become destructive”.

“The appointment of someone who gives voice to much hate, who has championed the politics of fear and anger has got to be seen as a real threat to global security, to the kind of moral influence this nation claims to want to have in a world that is increasingly violent and at risk,” Mr Stevenson said.

Some Republicans have also expressed concern.

House GOP chief policy director Evan McMullin recently tweeted, “Saying ‘stop it’ to racist attacks means little when you name white supremacist darling Steven Bannon chief strategist in the very same day.

“If not on equality and liberty, then on which issues will our GOP leaders check [president elect Donald Trump],” he wrote.

John Weaver, a senior strategist for Republican Ohio Governor John Kasich, also tweeted that the "racist, fascist extreme right is represented footsteps from the Oval Office".

“Be very vigilant America."

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which calls for Mr Trump to rescind Mr Bannon's appointment, said it had documented more than 200 incidents of harassment and intimidation, including those containing anti-Semitic messages, following election day on November 8.

However, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has been shortlisted to serve as secretary of state, has come out in Mr Bannon’s defence, saying Mr Bannon is not anti-Semitic.

In an interview with CBS show Face the Nation, Mr Gingrich said Mr Bannon had worked for two areas with strong associations with the Jewish community – Goldman Sachs and the Hollywood film industry.

When asked to respond to an op-ed published by the National Review titled ‘The Alt-Right President’ that said Mr Trump’s election as the next president of the US gave power to the far right including white supremacists and anti-Semites, Mr Gingrich said: “I just have to say, that’s garbage.” 

“Donald Trump is a mainstream conservative who wants to profoundly take on the left," he said.

"The left is infuriated that anybody would challenge the legitimacy of their moral superiority, and so the left goes hysterical.”

He’s not the only one to suggest Mr Bannon would be competent as chief strategist.

Kellyanne Conway, Trump's former campaign manager and a senior adviser, told reporters in New York Mr Bannon was a "brilliant tactician" and she was offended by reports to the contrary.

- with AAP

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