McConnell Refuses To Comment On Trump’s Appointment Of Steve Bannon

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Wednesday refused to offer comment on Donald Trump’s newly-named chief strategist Steve Bannon, who helped turn Breitbart News into a thriving hub for the alt-right.

“I’m not going to comment on White House personal choices,” McConnell said during a brief Senate GOP press conference.

Other Republican leaders, including House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), have also said that it is Trump’s prerogative to choose his own senior staff.

Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart published dozens of stories promoting Islamophobic conspiracies and warning of the dangers of undocumented immigration. Bannon proudly said the site served as “the platform for the alt-right,” a loosely organized group of white nationalists, men’s right activists, and anti-immigrant conservatives.

McConnell remained tight-lipped about Trump’s candidacy throughout the campaign, and has offered little comment on the President-elect’s transition process. Asked to comment on Bannon’s appointment on Tuesday, he smiled wanly at the camera before his aide ended the interview.

At Wednesday’s presser, a reporter asked the majority leader if he had any comment for minority and female Americans who feel unsafe in the wake of the election.

“Well look, you know, American campaigns are pretty robust,” McConnell said. “I think a lot of Americans don’t realize without a lot of elections like this in the past.”

As an example, McConnell brought up the 1824 election in which Andrew Jackson won the popular vote but lost to John Quincy Adams. The House of Representatives decided the result after no candidate received a majority of the electoral vote.

“Almost anything I heard in the course of this campaign pales in comparison into what Adams and Jefferson said about each other,” McConnell said.

According to the Kentucky senator, the Internet and 24-hour news cycle heightened the tensions of typically “spirited” election cycles.

Americans are “constantly confronted with all this,” McConnell said.

“Look, I think it’s time for election to be over. I think President Obama should be commended for the way he handled himself after the election, Vice President Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton,” he went on. “It’s time to accept the results of the election, to lower the tone and to see what we can do together to make progress for the country.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Allegra Kirkland is a New York-based reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked on The Nation’s web team and as the associate managing editor for AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @allegrakirkland.
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