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

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.

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. 

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.