by Peter Gale
There has been a consistent and insistent protest all over the country against President Trump’s nominees for posts in his cabinet and his nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch. Many people have called Trump’s proposed cabinet a “corporate cabinet” or a “billionaires-packed cabinet.”
In New York, most of the protests and rallies have been directed to Democratic Senators Charles “Chuck” Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, urging them to vote against Trump’s nominees and even filibuster against Gorsuch. The demonstrations and protests have been more directed to Senator Schumer rather than Senator Gillibrand, largely because Schumer is the influential Senate Minority Leader, and partly because Gillibrand is the only Senator to vote no on every nominee so far, except for Nikki Haley, the Ambassador to the United Nations. Even Senators Bernie Sanders, from Vermont, Elizabeth Warren, from Massachusetts, and Sherrod Brown, from Ohio, have voted for one cabinet nominee so far.
The protests in New York against Trump’s nominees started on Tuesdays in early January, organized by the Working Families Party, Citizens Action, and Peoples Action. The protests are called Resist Trump Tuesday, when protests erupt at many cities across the country. Every Tuesday in New York, several hundred people have gathered at noon in front of the offices of Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, both at 780 Third Avenue, between 48th and 49th Streets, in Manhattan. They shout anti-Trump slogans, such as “No wall, no ban,” and “Refugees are welcome here, no hate, no fear.”
The protesters included both Bernie Sanders supporters and Hillary Clinton supporters, people carrying signs promoting women’s pro-choice and pro-immigrant statements, and others.
Scores of people brought letters addressed to Schumer or Gillibrand, urging them to vote no on Trump’s nominees and to oppose Trump’s policies. On Tuesday, January 31, a staff person from Schumer’s office came outside to take the letters and hand out a press release from Schumer, stating that Trump “has stomped over our proud American tradition of welcoming immigrants and refugees, trafficked in alternative facts, and is attempting to fill his cabinet with billionaires and bankers.” He promised to vote no on Betsy Devos, the Trump nominee for Education Secretary, Tillerson, the nominee for the State Department, Sessions for Attorney General, Mulvaney for Budget Director, Price for Health and Human Services, Mnuchin for Treasury, Pruitt for the Environmental Protection Agency, and Puzder for the Labor Department.
Schumer has been feeling the heat. He has a reputation of not doing anything to hurt or restrain Wall Street. Although he has been outspoken against Trump and has endorsed Keith Ellison, a Bernie Sanders supporter for chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Schumer still voted for three of the Trump nominees. Schumer voted for “Mad dog” Marine Corps General James Mattis for Defense Secretary, another Marine General John Kelly for Homeland Security Secretary, and pro-torture Mike Pompeo for CIA Director. After the January 31 rally in front of Schumer’s offices, a few thousand angry protesters appeared at Schumer’s home that evening in Brooklyn. The protesters tried to deliver protein bars and weights to Schumer, so he could “regain his strength.”
Some of the Democratic Senators have been on the fence in trying to block Trump’s proposed cabinet. They claim that there is a tradition of letting a President choose his cabinet, but other Democrats have said that Trump’s cabinet is truly an extreme ultra-right cabinet, bad enough to cast old traditions aside. However, grassroots pressure on the wavering Democrats has been effective, both in New York and around the country. For example, Rhode Island Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse voted for Pompeo. After this vote, he appeared at a Town Hall, overflowing with angry protesters. He immediately promised to vote against almost all of Trump’s remaining nominees.
On Tuesday, February 7, a few hours after the tied 50-50 vote in the Senate for Betsy Devos, at which point Vice-President Michael Pence voted to break the tie, confirming her for Education Secretary, the Resist Trump Tuesdays in Manhattan continued with a protest of several hundred people a few blocks north of Wall Street. People gathered in front of JP Morgan Chase Bank, across the street from the Federal Reserve Bank, in the heart of the Financial District, a few blocks north of Wall Street. They chanted, “Hit the road, bank, and don’t cha come back, no more, no more, no more. . .,” alternating with “Hit the road, Trump, and don’t cha come back, etc.” Referring to Trump’s immigrant ban, they chanted, “Nothing gets done ‘til the ban is on the run,” and many more.
From there, the crowd marched west on Liberty Street, turning north on Church Street, turning west again on Barclay Street to West Street, then marching north to Murray Street, where they marched west across West Street. The marchers turned south at the fancy alley connecting Murray Street and Vesey Street, and stopped in front of Goldman Sachs, or “Government Sachs,” as many of the signs carried by the protesters said. “Government Sachs” is quite appropriate, because Trump’s Treasury Secretary is Steven Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs partner, and chair of Trump’s National Economic Council is Gary Cohn, former president and chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs. Cohn had a $21 million salary with Goldman and is now the number two top executive at Goldman until he was appointed by Trump, getting a $285 million “golden parachute” from Goldman to leave and work for Trump. Trump is also appointing four other present or former Goldman executives. The white supremacist Steve Bannon is also a Goldman Sachs alumni.
Despite the many protests, at this writing, it looks likely that all of Trump’s nominees for cabinet positions will be affirmed. Whatever the results, Trump will be facing staunch opposition if the popular forces stay united against him.