An aide said to Harry Reid said expect more fire from the Nevada Democrat in the coming days
Reid, who did not seek re-election this year, also accused Trump of being a 'sexual predator'
The departing leader of the Senate Democrats, Harry Reid, blasted President-elect Donald Trump on Friday as having “emboldened the forces of hate and bigotry” and said the responsibility for unifying the country is in his hands.
“The election of Donald Trump has emboldened the forces of hate and bigotry in America,” Reid, the Senate minority leader, said in a stinging statement, which is a departure from the strategy of other leading Democrats.
Both Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama have argued that Trump should be given a chance to lead. Obama welcomed Trump to the White House Thursday and said they had an excellent meeting. There was no such welcome from Reid.
“White nationalists, Vladimir Putin and ISIS are celebrating Donald Trump’s victory, while innocent, law-abiding Americans are wracked with fear – especially African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Muslim Americans, LGBT Americans and Asian Americans,” Reid continued. “Watching white nationalists celebrate while innocent Americans cry tears of fear does not feel like America.”
An aide to Reid explained that veteran Nevada Democrat was firing away now because he was “appalled by the rush to normalize Trump.” The aide said to expect more fire from Reid in the coming days.
Reid, who did not seek re-election this year, also accused Trump of being a “sexual predator” – a reference to the women who have said that Trump assaulted them.
Spokespeople for Trump did not immediately return CNN requests for comment Friday.
But Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who is up for re-election in 2018, condemned Reid’s remarks in a statement, saying they “needlessly feed the very divisiveness that is tearing this country apart.”
“Senator Harry Reid’s statement today attacking President-elect Trump is wrong! It is an absolute embarrassment to the Senate as an institution, our Democratic party, and the nation. I want to be very clear, he does not speak for me,” Manchin said.
Republican Rep. Peter King added his condemnation to the fray, telling CNN on Friday that Reid was a disgrace.
“That sounds like some old has-been at the end of the bar who is just angry at life, angry at the world, angry that he’s on the way out and nobody cares,” King told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room.” “I mean, that is really disgraceful to talk that way.”
Trump struggled last year to disavow the support of former Ku Klux Klan Leader David Duke and Trump has proposed banning Muslims from entering the country. Trump has flatly denied that he assaulted any women, in one instance saying he wouldn’t have because the accuser was ugly.
Steve Bannon, who is being considered for Trump’s White House chief of staff, ran the website Breitbart.com which published numerous stories catering to white nationalists. But the Trump campaign and Trump himself have distanced themselves from those supporters in the past few months, flatly disavowing Duke in the final weeks of the race.
Since winning the election, Trump has struck a more conciliatory tone, calling for unity now that he is headed to the White House.
Trump’s election has spurred worries that racism will become more widespread. A video of two high school students in central Pennsylvania chanting “White power!” went viral Thursday.
CNN’s Naomi Lim contributed to this report.