Senator Cory Booker gained attention on Tuesday after delivering a passionate rebuke of President Trump’s reported comments about immigrants made during an Oval Office meeting.
During the Senate oversight hearing of Homeland Security Department Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, the New Jersey Democrat railed against the president — as well as the secretary herself — after she said under oath that she ‘‘did not hear’’ Trump use the word “shithole” to describe Haiti and African countries.
In his questioning, Booker said he was moved to “tears of rage” after hearing about last week’s meeting.
“I hurt. When Dick Durbin called me, I had tears of rage when I heard about his experience in that meeting,” Booker said, raising his voice. “And for you not to feel that hurt, and that pain, and to dismiss the questions of some 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.”
He also accused Nielsen of being “complicit” in the president’s comments.
“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,” Booker said. “When ignorance and bigotry is allied with power, it is a dangerous force in our country. Your silence and your amnesia is complicity.”
Booker also said Trump’s words “give license to bigotry and hate in our country,” and railed against recent violent incidents involving white supremacists.
“I receive enough death threats to know the reality,” Booker said. “And I’ve got a president of the United States, an office I respect, who talks about the country’s origins, my fellow citizens, in the most despicable manner. You don’t remember. You can’t remember the words of your commander in chief. I find that unacceptable.”
Immediately afterwards, Neilsen responded to Booker’s comments calmly.
“I couldn’t agree with you more than the Department of Homeland Security has a duty to stop and prevent violence in all of its forms,” she said, including acts carried out by white supremacists. “I share your passion. It’s unacceptable. It can’t be tolerated in the United States.”