Justice Department attorney was at a loss for words on Tuesday after Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) asked him how President Donald Trump’s choice of Steve Bannon as chief strategist impacted hate crimes in the United States. At a Senate hearing on religious hate crimes, Special Counsel For Religious Discrimination Eric Treene argued that there was not enough data to fully address the rise in religious hate crimes. More than 150 Jewish community centers were targeted with bomb threats this year, but Treene suggested that the number could be higher because law enforcement agencies were not required to notify the federal government. Sen. Franken wondered what message the White House was sending to perpetrators of hate crimes by placing former Breitbart executive Steve Bannon in Trump’s inner circle. “Either through missteps or associations with controversial figures, the White House fails to speak clearly in opposition to bias and hate,” Franken said. “I’m curious what message you think it sends to individuals who may engage in that kind of reprehensible behavior when the president selects Steve Bannon as his chief strategist.”
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