Wasserman Schultz rips Bannon pick
By David Wright, CNN
Updated 2:48 PM ET, Fri November 18, 2016
(CNN) - Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz excoriated the early nominations for top posts in President-elect Donald Trump's incoming administration, focusing in particular on the appointment of Stephen Bannon as chief adviser.
"Between the Steve Bannon appointment as his chief strategist, you know, a step and heartbeat next to the presidency, one, you know, one person who fans the flames and gives permission to sexism, racism and anti-Semitism on his shoulder," Wasserman Schultz said in an interview on CNN's "New Day" Friday morning. "It's really getting more and more disturbing."
The Florida Democrat told host Alisyn Camerota that the pick "means that we can't take Donald Trump at his word after he was elected a couple of weeks ago that he intends to bring the nation together."
The former Democratic National Committee chairwoman, ousted in controversy over the summer, also took aim at another pair of Trump administration appointments announced Friday -- Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general and retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as national security advisor.
Wasserman Schultz cited Sessions' unsuccessful appointment to a federal district court by then-President Ronald Reagan, which sank when a former Justice Department employee testified that Sessions had made racially tinged remarks.
"Let's remember that Jeff Sessions was nominated for a federal judgeship by President Reagan and at the time was one of only two in 60 years to be rejected by the Senate Judiciary Committee -- which was controlled by Republicans at the time -- because of his previous racist statements and really outrageous comments."
Later in the interview, Wasserman Schultz weighed in on the emerging leadership battle for House Democrats, which was kicked off after Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan announced he would challenge current Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for her post.
While Wasserman Schultz was careful to express admiration for both Ryan and Pelosi, she suggested that Pelosi's leadership experience would be critical for Democrats as they gird for legislative fights against the Trump administration.
"There is nobody in my mind that is more battle-tested and prepared, and frankly, savvy enough to be able to go toe-to-toe with Paul Ryan and the Republican leadership, and this really troubling and disturbing administration, than Nancy Pelosi," she said.
Wasserman Schultz then skirted a question about who she would support for DNC chair in the upcoming election.
"I have tremendous respect for my former colleagues at the DNC, and it's their decision, and I'm not going to weigh in on who it should be."