Donald Trump's decision to make Stephen Bannon, former Breitbart News executive turned campaign CEO, his chief strategist and senior counselor in the White House was met with criticism.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations condemned Bannon's appointment in a statement, calling him an "anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist and White nationalist alt-right extremist." The council pointed to the alt-right news website he used to run as proof of his views on Muslims and other minorities.
In the statement, the council's executive director, Nihad Awad, said, "the appointment of Stephen Bannon as a top Trump administration strategist sends the disturbing message that anti-Muslim conspiracy theories and White nationalist ideology will be welcome in the White House."
And he made an appeal to the president-elect on Twitter:
We urge President-elect Trump to reconsider the ill-advised appointment of white nationalist #StephenBannon if he seeks to unite Americans.— Nihad Awad نهاد عوض (@NihadAwad) November 14, 2016
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, released a statement on Twitter congratulating Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus' appointment to White House chief of staff, but also denouncing Bannons' appointment.
"It is a sad day when a man who presided over the premiere website of the 'alt right' — a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists — is slated to be a senior staff member in the 'people's house,'" Greenblatt said in the statement. "We call on President-elect Trump to appoint and nominate Americans committed to the well-being of all our country's people and who exemplify the values of pluralism and tolerance that make our country great."
Other organizations, such as Jewish Voice for Peace and the Southern Poverty Law Center, made similar comments.
But on Monday Reince Priebus, who Trump announced would be his chief of staff Sunday, defended Bannon's hire and called on people not to make judgements.
“I don’t know where [criticism is] coming from that’s not the Steve Bannon that I know," Priebus said on ABC's Good Morning America Monday.. "I find him not to be way that’ he’s being accused, I find him to be the opposite."
"Don’t judge people based off what other people say," he continued.
The president-elect said he considered Bannon for the chief of staff position as well.
Bannon left the alt-right news site, which has been criticized as a publication that appeals to nationalists and racists, and joined Trump's team in August. Trump was criticized throughout the presidential campaign for supporting policies — mass deportations, bans of at least some Muslim immigrants and "stop-and-frisk" tactics — that opponents called racist and xenophobic.
Bannon said that "we had a very successful partnership on the campaign, one that led to victory. We will have that same partnership in working to help President-elect Trump achieve his agenda.”
Activist groups weren't the only ones taking issue with Bannon's appointment:
@realDonaldTrump didnt take long to start paying his bills for the win. hired Stephen Bannon KKK leader to the White house— doug justus (@justus1961doug) November 14, 2016
Paul Ryan said he had “no concerns” about Stephen Bannon potentially becoming Chief of Staff. Bannon ran a website with these headlines. pic.twitter.com/LpNug7MAof— Joon Lee (@iamjoonlee) November 13, 2016
Saying "stop it" to racist attacks means little when you name white supremacist darling Steve Bannon chief strategist in the very same day. https://t.co/BKuyA09VRA— Evan McMullin (@Evan_McMullin) November 14, 2016
the people who called obama a race war black panther are just fine stephen bannon has a senior white house position.— Oliver Willis (@owillis) November 13, 2016