Booker Slams Homeland Security Secretary for Saying She Didn’t Hear Trump’s “Shithole” Remark

“Your silence and your amnesia is complicity,” he told her.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) questions Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday.Jose Luis Magana/AP

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Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) blasted Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Tuesday for repeatedly telling a panel of senators that she did not hear President Donald Trump call African nations “shitholes” even though she was in the room at the time. 

In a long and emotional speech, Booker explained why he finds the president’s comments offensive and dangerous. He described them as at odds with the idea that people are judged “by the content of their character” rather than the color of their skin or their country of origin. Booker linked Trump’s words to the rise of white nationalist violence in the United States, noting that anti-immigrant animus has driven domestic attacks on people of color.

“When ignorance and bigotry is allied with power, it is a dangerous force in our country,” Booker told Nielsen during a Department of Homeland Security oversight hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Your silence and your amnesia is complicity.”

He added, “I receive enough death threats to know the reality.”

Booker reminded Nielsen that she was under oath when she repeatedly said she did not recall the “shithole” comment. 

Nielsen responded to Booker by saying that she “abhor[s] violence in all of its forms” and that her department is not ignoring violence by white supremacists. A new report from DHS and the Justice Department on terrorism convictions entirely omitted domestic terrorism.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) spoke after Booker and said she agreed with his remarks. Booker and Harris are the only African American members of the Judiciary Committee. Both are new to the committee, having joined last week. 

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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