Back in May, Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) grilled a Justice Department official during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about whether the West Wing presence of Steve Bannon, the former Breitbart executive turned chief strategist to President Trump, sends a bad message when it comes to religious discrimination in America.
“I’m curious the message you think it sends to individuals that may engage in that kind of reprehensible behavior when the president selects Steve Bannon as his chief strategist?” asked Franken. “Steve Bannon, after all, is the former chairman of Breitbart News and trafficked ideology of racism, misogyny, xenophobia, anti-Muslim propaganda and anti-Semitism.”
The Justice Department official brushed it off.
Well, Bannon is now out—after he publicly contradicted the president’s stance on North Korea in an interview with the left-wing American Prospect, which enraged the commander-in-chief—but Franken is the furthest thing from satisfied.
During a Friday appearance on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, Franken told his longtime pal that Bannon’s ouster won’t really make a difference when it comes to the chaos of the Trump administration.
“A lot of people are saying that Bannon’s going, and is that going to make a difference. The problem with this administration is Trump, and it’s going to continue,” said Franken. “We’ve heard this. ‘When [chief of staff] Kelly comes in, everything will be fine,’ and then boom, [Trump] threatens nuclear war…I don’t think [Trump] changes.”
Maher then asked Franken about whether the past week—including Trump’s horrifying defense of the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville—will lead any of his Republican colleagues in the Senate to finally turn on their party leader.
“There have been a number of Republican senators who have been saying from the beginning that they have a lot of doubts about [Trump] but who won’t go public with that because he still has 80-something percent of his base behind him—and that’s their base,” explained Franken. “So politically, they’re unwilling to go public, and there are some people who have said ‘there’s nothing good about neo-Nazis, etc.’ but wouldn’t blame Trump.”
And if there was any doubt about Franken’s feelings toward Trump, well, he summed them up later on in their chat when he told the late-night host: “Yes, he’s a terrible person.”