In an interview with MSNBC’s Brian Williams on the eve of Trump’s inauguration, Booker criticized Trump for his lack of transparency and the nominees he’s picked for his cabinet.
“When you have a president himself who hasn’t allowed the kind of transparency we’ve seen with the Republican and Democratic presidents in the modern era,” he said. “Somebody’s who really hiding much of his financial information, potential conflicts, which on day one could put him in opposition to what we understand the Constitution to be requirements for a president. It makes me very sobered about the realities we have with a lot of his cabinet picks.”
The senator said that while most of Trump’s appointees will probably be confirmed by Congress, he’s hopeful that “some of the more outrageous ones can be stopped.” He specifically pointed a finger at Jeff Sessions who’s spoken out against protections for people of color, women and the LGBTQ community.
He said the only way to change it is to face it.
“I refuse to remain silent. I think that’s one of the worst things that we could do. As James Baldwin once said, ‘Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed unless it’s faced.’ And I think it’s important that even when we see they have the votes that we speak up, that we stand up, that we let people know what’s going on and try to activate and engage the public in a level that might not be used to doing in keeping an eye on this presidency.”
Booker had several specific criticisms of Trump, including his refusal to acknowledge issues like minimum wages, education access and environmental regulations. He also mentioned Trump’s alleged ties to Russia and urged authorities to continue to look into their relationship.
“I’m concerned about fighting to protect people and fighting to protect values that Republicans and Democrats, as I’ve found, often stand for those same values,” he said. “I’m definitely going to be fighting against the kind of hate and demeaning and degrading language Donald Trump has used to single out groups from Muslim Americans to immigrants to women and to gays and lesbians. This is the fight in our hands right now.”
While more than 50 of his fellow Democrat legislators boycotted the inauguration, Booker decided to attend because he “respect[s] the presidency even though I’m ready to stand against so much of what Donald Trump has shown us he wants to do.” He said he respects the decision of those who chose not to attend.
“This is an important moment for us as a democracy and the values that we stand in,” he said. “I know that this is the start and that we’re going to need people to dig in to fight and to do what they can to protect the American people.”