BALTIMORE – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Special Representative on Anti-Semitism, Racism, and Intolerance for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly, issued the following statement on the announcement of members of President-elect Trump’s national security team.
“I did not support Donald Trump for President because we disagree on nearly every issue of concern to the American people. However, as president, I believe he generally has a right to have a team around him that he trusts and supports him. As a United States Senator, I take seriously the Constitutional responsibility to provide Advice and Consent for those nominees. Unlike my Republican colleagues who have failed in their duty to provide a timely confirmation hearing for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, I will do my best not to prejudge any individual before a proper hearing. I will, however, freely raise what issues I think need to be a priority for the incoming administration.
“I urge Mr. Trump to understand that if he truly wants to be a president for all the people, he must renounce the ugly rhetoric of the campaign and surround himself with men and women of the highest character who want to bring communities together rather than tear one another apart. His nominees – men and women – should support and defend the full Constitution – not only their interpretation of the Second Amendment. Of utmost importance is the First Amendment: ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people to peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.’ Hate and fear should not the ruling forces for our nation. The rise in race- and religious-based hate crimes and incidents across the country since the election have been troubling and need to be repeatedly discouraged at the highest level. We need individuals who will help to rebuild the trust that has eroded between law enforcement and the communities they are sworn to protect. Individuals not willing to support and defend the civil rights and civil liberties of all Americans should have no place in our government.
“As Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, I urge President-elect Trump to take seriously the warnings and assessments from our intelligence community and national security professionals. I believe America must lead the world by standing up against violations of international law, against war crimes, against human rights violations and by speaking up for democracy and freedom of speech. These core values must be at the forefront of America’s foreign policy agenda. We must be there for our allies and stand firm against illegal aggression. Russia must be regarded as the global bully and adversary that it is and not a partner. Russia has committed cyberattacks against the United States and war crimes in Syria; it should be held accountable and not be permitted to manipulate facts or ignore international norms and the rule of law. We need leaders who will treat climate change as a national security imperative, putting put science and the public health before politics. I believe that America should be embracing our diversity while leading the way in support for human rights at home and around the globe. Embracing these values has never been more important than it is today.”