According to members of Donald Trump’s team, the president-elect’s staff will be a very diverse group — although the few people Trump has tapped so far do not demonstrate this, as they have been primarily older white men with very conservative and even racist views.
Spokesman Jason Miller said Trump’s picks “will be very broad and diverse, both with the Cabinet and the administration.” Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, also emphasized Trump’s focus on diversity.
“And diversity means meeting with people across the aisle who are traditionally more Democratic, who are coming together and wanting to offer him advice, perhaps vie for a spot in his Cabinet,” she said.
So far, however, the president-elect’s picks have not displayed diversity in race, gender or points of view.
Reince Priebus, Trump’s chief of staff, made waves just this past weekend. During an interview for “Meet the Press” Sunday, when host Chuck Todd asked if Priebus has ruled out a registry as a possibility, Priebus said that nothing was off the table.
“Look, I’m not going to rule out anything,” he said, stammering over his words. He then said, “But we’re not going to have a registry based on a religion.”
Priebus is no stranger to controversy. He also made waves in a 2011 interview, during which he called Osama bin Laden “Obama” on three separate occasions while talking about executing the terrorist.
Stephen Bannon, who is considered by many to be a de-facto leader of the white supremacist alt-right movement, will serve as Trump’s chief strategist and senior counselor. Bannon was chairman of Breitbart News but plans to resign to work with Trump.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), “Stephen Bannon was the main driver behind Breitbart becoming a white ethno-nationalist propaganda mill.”
One Breitbart article posted under Bannon’s leadership is titled, “Hoist it High and Proud: the Confederate Flag Proclaims a Glorious Heritage.” It was written two weeks after the mass killing of Black parishioners at a church in Charleston last year.
Last week Trump chose Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions to be his attorney general. Sessions’ history of racism long proceeds Trump’s election. In 1986, Sessions was rejected to be a district judge in Alabama. He was the second judge to be rejected in 48 years — and his inflammatory racist comments and remarks were what cost him the position.
Sessions referred to a white civil rights lawyer as a “disgrace to his race” for taking on voting rights cases.
Retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn will serve as Trump’s national security advisor. Flynn has a history of using racist rhetoric. Earlier this year he tweeted, “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL.”
Also raising concern is Flynn’s son, Michael G. Flynn. The younger Flynn has a history of racist and hateful rhetoric, frequently posting derogatory content and unfounded conspiracy theories on social media — and he serves as his father’s chief of staff.
Trump tapped Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo to be his CIA chief. Pompeo has been noted for making anti-Muslim remarks. In 2013 while speaking on the U.S. House floor, he said, “Mr. Speaker, it’s been just under two months since the attacks in Boston, and in those intervening weeks, the silence of Muslim leaders has been deafening.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations responded, calling the claims “false and irresponsible.”
Following those remarks, Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison (D), who is Muslim, said at the time that he told Pompeo “Muslims are condemning terrorism every day all the time.”
Pompeo later rejected Ellison’s assertion.
“Rep. Ellison’s claim is wrong,” he said. “I continue to believe that Islamic clerics in mosques and the madrassas around the world have an obligation to consistently denounce terrorism done in the name of their faith.”
Ken Blackwell has been selected to be Trump’s domestic policy adviser. Blackwell, who is Black, has a long anti-LGBT history. He is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council (FRC), classified by the SPLC as a hate group that “often makes false claims about the LGBT community based on discredited research and junk science.”
Blackwell has been making anti-LGBT statements for years, including in 2014 when he blamed support for gay marriage for the deadly Isla Vista shootings in California.
“When you see the crumbling of the moral foundation of the country, you see the attack on natural marriage,” Blackwell said in an interview with Tony Perkins, president of the FRC. “When these fundamental institutions are attacked and destroyed and weakened and abandoned, you get what we are now seeing, and that is a flood of these disturbed people that are causing great pain. And as opposed to dealing with the foundational problem, we look for ways of blaming the Second Amendment or blaming knives.”
Trump’s election can largely be attributed to white voters, according to exit polls. While he won 58 percent of white votes, he received 29 percent of both the Asian and Hispanic votes and just 8 percent of the Black votes.