Tuesday at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Department of Homeland Security oversight, referring to President Donald Trump’s alleged “shithole” comments, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) lectured Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen over her testimony.
Booker said, “Now, I’ve been in the Oval Office many times and when the commander in chief speaks, I listened. I don’t have amnesia on conversations I had in the Oval Office going back months and months. I had individual meetings with the president and I’ve had group conversations where there was, as you said, cross-talk. And why—why is this so important? Why is this so disturbing for me? Why am I frankly, seething with anger? We have this incredible nation where we have been taught that it does not matter where you’re from, it doesn’t matter your color, your race, your religion, it’s about the content of your character. It’s about your values and your ideals, and yet we have language that from Dick Durbin to Lindsey Graham, they seem to have a much better recollection of what went on. You’re under oath. You and others in that room that suddenly cannot remember. It was Martin Luther King that said there’s ‘nothing in this world more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.’ And so here we are in the United States of America, and we have a history that is beautiful and grand and also ugly—where from this nation to others we know what happens when people sit by and are bystanders and say nothing. When Oval Office rhetoric sounds like social engineering, we know from human history the dangers of that.”
He continued, “The commander in chief in an Oval Office meeting referring to people from African countries and Haitians with the most vile and vulgar language. That language festers when ignorance and bigotry is aligned with power—it’s a dangerous force in our country. Your silence and amnesia is complicity. Right now in our nation we have a problem.”
He added, “I hurt when Dirk Durbin called me. I had tears of rage when I heard about this experience in this meeting, and for you not to feel that hurt and that pain and to dismiss some of the questions of my colleagues saying, ‘I’ve already answered that line of questions,’ when tens of millions of Americans are hurting right now because of what they’re worried about what happened in the White House, that’s unacceptable to me. There are threats in this country, people plotting. 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 I have a president of the United States, whose office I respect, who talks about the countries of origins of my fellow citizens in the most despicable of manner. You don’t remember. You can’t remember the words of your commander in chief. I find that unacceptable.”
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