Donald Trump builds cabinet team of far-right figures, nationalists – and white men named Mike

The President-elect’s cabinet picks have earned praise from white supremacists and neo-Nazis

donald-trump-jeff-sessionsbvTrump’s chosen Attorney General, Senator Jeff Sessions (left), was denied a federal judgeship in the mid-1980s for allegedly making racist comments (AP)

 

When President Barack Obama put together his first cabinet in late 2008, a group that included his sometime bitter electoral opponent Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, he was hailed for emulating Abraham Lincoln by assembling a so-called “team of rivals”.

As President-elect Donald Trump announced three new picks for his White House on Friday – Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, Retired US Army Lieutenant-General Mike Flynn and Kansas congressman Mike Pompeo, all staunch Trump loyalists – at least one commentator referred to the Trump administration now taking shape as a “team of racists”.

Under Mr Obama, the role of US Attorney General – the nation’s top law enforcement official – was filled by Eric Holder and later Loretta Lynch, respectively the first black man and woman to hold the post. If Mr Trump has his way, Ms Lynch will be succeeded by Mr Sessions, who was denied a federal judgeship in the mid-1980s for having allegedly made racist comments.

The first Senator to endorse Mr Trump for President, Mr Sessions was accused in 1986 of having called a black assistant US district attorney “boy” and of suggesting a white lawyer representing black clients was a “race traitor”.

He was also said to have quipped that he thought the Ku Klux Klan was “okay, until I learned they smoked pot” – a comment that ought to be no more comforting for African-Americans than for advocates of legalising cannabis.

Mr Sessions, a former Alabama Attorney General, has denied those accusations, but he is on the record as an opponent of marriage equality and hate crime protections, and as a supporter of mass deportation and Mr Trump’s proposed Muslim ban. He has described the 1965 Voting Rights Act, a landmark civil rights law, as a “piece of intrusive legislation.”

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