Here's how many of Trump's cabinet appointees have a history of racism


President-elect Donald Trump is in the midst of assembling his cabinet and choosing the people who will help him shape the direction of the United States over the next four years. 

But those who were unsettled by the racist and xenophobic tone set by Trump's presidential campaign, will be only more alarmed by the histories of some of the appointees and their respective patterns of racism or Islamophobia.

As Trump's cabinet continues to take shape, here are some of the people he has tapped for positions whose past actions have raised red flags among many.

Jeff Sessions, attorney general

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Trump's appointee to what the New York Times calls "the nation's top law enforcement official" with the power to "change how civil rights laws are enforced," is Republican Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions. In 1986, Sessions, then a U.S. attorney in Alabama, was nominated to a federal district court. His nomination was rejected after people who had worked with him in Alabama testified under oath that he had made racially charged remarks, including calling a black prosecutor "boy," joking about his support for the Ku Klux Klan and referring to the NAACP as "un-American."

Earlier this month, civil rights lawyer Gerry Hebert, who testified in Sessions' 1986 confirmation hearings, told Mic's Aaron Morrison, "I think it's very alarming that [Sessions] would be offered the position — and it will be even more alarming if he's confirmed as attorney general."

Steve Bannon, chief strategist

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Trump's decision to elevate former Breitbart head Steve Bannon to a chief strategist role, a position that requires no Senate confirmation, has raised concern among many. Bannon's history at Breitbart, which, during his tenure, published sexist, racist and inflammatory stories, has many worried is indicative of the worldview he will reference while fulfilling his role.

Ben Shapiro, a former Breitbart editor, who worked alongside Bannon, wrote on the Daily Wire that "under Bannon's Leadership, Breitbart openly embraced the white supremacist alt-right ... with [Breitbart editor Milo] Yiannopoulos pushing white ethno-nationalism as a legitimate response to political correctness, and the comment section turning into a cesspool for white supremacist mememakers."

Bannon has also been accused of making racist and anti-Semitic remarks behind closed doors. His ex-wife testified during their divorce that Bannon didn't want their children attending school "with Jews" because they were "whiny brats." And a former colleague of Bannon's told the Times that, during the years they worked together, he "occasionally talked about the genetic superiority of some people" and suggested that limiting the number of black Americans who could vote by restricting voting to property owners might not be "such a bad thing."

Michael Flynn, national security advisor

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National security advisor is not technically a cabinet role, but it's nonetheless a crucial and influential job that will be filled by retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. Flynn has raised concerns for his claims about Islam and his tendency to disseminate fake news on social media — including once linking to a tweet which falsely claimed Trump's political opponent Hillary Clinton was "wearing hijab in solidarity with Islamic terrorists," CNN reported.

Flynn has also used social media to condemn the entire religion of Islam, once tweeting "Arab and Persian world 'leaders'" should "step up to the plate and declare their Islamic ideology sick." The New York Times reported Flynn has also falsely claimed Sharia law "is spreading in the United States," demonstrating what the Times called "a loose relationship with facts." He has even called Islam a "malignant cancer," the Times reported.

Steven Mnuchin, treasury secretary

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Trump's choice for treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, formerly with Goldman Sachs, co-founded a bank, OneWest, in 2008 and lead the company until 2015, Fortune reported. Now, OneWest is being sued for allegedly discriminating against black and Latino customers, according to a complaint filed this month by two fair housing advocacy groups.

The complaint alleges the bank "kept bank branches out of nonwhite neighborhoods" and gave nonwhite customers disproportionately fewer mortgages, Fortune wrote. Between 2012 and 2013, the California bank gave zero loans to black customers in Los Angeles. 

The advocacy groups will now ask the Department of Housing and Urban Development (which Ben Carson may soon lead) to look into the complaint, which does not specifically name Mnuchin, to see if OneWest and it's parent company, CIT Group, violated federal laws against discrimination. Mnuchin currently serves on the board of CIT.