In epic 9-minute speech, Cory Booker takes on Trump’s racism and white complicity

"Your silence and amnesia are complicity"

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

At a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Trump’s Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, claimed that she couldn’t remember what word Trump used to describe Haiti and African countries in an Oval Office meeting last week. According to Sens. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin, Trump derided those nations as “shithole countries.”

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) was not buying it.

Listening to the hearing unfold, Booker decided at the last moment to pass on his opportunity to question Nielsen and instead delivered an impassioned, 9-minute response to Trump’s racism and Nielsen’s complicity.

“I sit here right now because when good white people in this country heard bigotry or hatred, they stood up,” Booker began. “What went on in the White House, what went on in the Oval Office, is profoundly disturbing to me.”


He then began to criticize Nielsen’s claim that she doesn’t remember what Trump said in the Oval Office or whether the president used the term “shithole.”

“I’ve been in the Oval Office many times and when the commander in chief speaks, I listen. I don’t have amnesia on conversations in the Oval Office going back months and months and months,” Booker said.

“Why am I seething with anger?” Booker asked, “We have this incredible nation where we’ve been taught it doesn’t matter where you’re from, it doesn’t matter your color, your race, your religion, it’s about the content of your character. It’s about your values and your ideas. And yet we have language that from Dick Durbin to Lindsay Graham — they seem to have a much better recollection of what went on. You’re under oath.”

Booker continued, choking back tears. “You and others in that room that suddenly cannot remember. It was Martin Luther King that said, ‘There’s nothing in this world that’s more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.’ And so, here we are in the United States of America. And we have a history that is beautiful and grand, and also ugly — where from this nation to others, we know what happens when people sit by and are bystanders and say nothing,” he said

“Our greatest heroes in this country, spoke out about people who have convenient amnesia or who are bystanders,” Booker told Nielsen, quoting King, Elie Wiesel, Gandhi.


He added, “This idea that the commander in chief of this country could with broad brushes talk about certain nations and thus cast a shadow over the millions of American who are from those communities — and that you could even say in your testimony that Norwegians were [preferred] by him because they were ‘so hard working….'”

At that point, Nielsen tried to interject, but Booker refused.

“Your silence and amnesia are complicity,” he said, looking directly at Nielsen. “When Dick Durbin called me, I had tears of rage when I heard about his experience in that meeting, and for you not to feel that hurt and that pain and to dismiss some of the questions of my colleagues, saying, ‘I’ve already answered that line of questions,’ when tens of millions of Americans are hurting right now because they’re worried about what happened in the White House… that’s unacceptable to me.”

Watch the whole thing:

Claiming, under oath, not to remember something, when you do in fact remember is considered perjury.