Top ranking Democrat Nancy Pelosi did not mince her words when she expressed her concerns about Donald Trump’s chief strategist becoming a permanent member of the National Security Council.
Ms Pelosi, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, told reporters repeatedly during a conference about the Muslim ban executive order that Steve Bannon was a "white supremacist" who was making the country "less safe".
"What’s making America less safe is to have a white supremacist named to the National Security Council as a permanent member while the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Director of National Intelligence are told, ‘Don’t call us, we’ll call you’.
"They’re no longer permanent members."
Mr Bannon was said to be a key architect of the Muslim ban, which indefinitely suspends Syrian refugees and bars nearly all travelers from six other Muslim-majority countries for at least 90 days. It was also reported that he pushed for the rule to target green card holders, a move which caused widespread confusion and protests.
“It’s a stunning thing that a white supremacist, Bannon, would be a permanent member of the National Security Council and dismissing [the] Chairman of Joint Chiefs and the Director of National Intelligence as permanent members,” Ms Pelosi added.
Her direct naming of Mr Bannon, an unelected official and one of the founders of Breitbart, is one of the first, if not the first, instances of a high-profile Democrat using the words “white supremacist” in such a public sphere.
Other Democrats and even some Republicans have criticised Mr Bannon in the past but used more moderate terms.
Senator Cory Booker told MSNBC this week that the strategist had launched a platform for racism and bigotry, and that his self-description as "alt-right" was a "synonym for white supremacy".
Mr Bannon came under fire this week for his comments about Islam after resurfaced audio recordings revealed that he thought Islam was "very dark" and "on the rise" while Christianity was falling, and mocked the notion that Islam was a religion of peace.
In the Muslim ban executive order, it states that Christian refugees will be prioritised.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer dodged a question about his colleague’s comments on Wednesday.
When pressed again on the subject, he responded: "I think I just made it clear that there's a difference in the President's view [to Mr Bannon]."
Hundreds of thousands of people signed petitions and more than 12,000 lawyers wrote an open letter to protest his appointment to become the President’s right-hand man.
Mr Trump still has close ties to the far-right news outlet. He threatened to pull federal funds from the University of California, Berkeley, after a speech from Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos was cancelled amid protests.
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