Donald Trump has moved to block the re-nomination of Barack Obama’s pick to serve on a United Nations committee on racism, and instead will allow the position to remain vacant.
As Politico reported, the White House intervened to prevent the expected re-nomination of human rights lawyer Gay McDougall, who was originally tapped by Obama to serve on the 18-member U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. As the report noted, it was the latest instance of the United States pulling away from international bodies, especially on issues related to human rights.
An unnamed State Department official spoke about the move to Politico, saying “it cements the narrative that the Americans just don’t care about these kinds of things anymore.”
A senior Trump administration official said that the decision to pull back from the committee “in no way diminishes our global leadership on efforts to eliminate racial discrimination.”
The White House did not offer an explanation for why McDougall was not re-nominated or why they chose to pull back from the committee. Donald Trump has come under intense criticism for what opponents see as racism from the president. Critics say Trump has stoked racial division through his harsh immigration rhetoric and refusal to condemn acts of violence and terrorism from white nationalists.
Trump was recently criticized for an attack on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, a Muslim woman from Minnesota. Video showed Omar in March making remarks about the founding of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which she incorrectly attributed as coming in response to a rise in Islamophobia in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attack.
“CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties,” she said.
While many interpreted the remark as referring to a rise in Islamophobia, Trump and other Republicans interpreted the “some people” in her comment to refer to terrorists. Trump tweeted a picture of the burning Twin Towers in his Twitter attack against Omar, which critics said is inciting violence against the Congresswoman, who has already faced death threats.
— Twitter Moments (@TwitterMoments) April 13, 2019
Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks in Gary, IN: "I can understand why people voted for Trump. I got that. But the sad truth is, and I'm not the first person to say this, we have a president who is a pathological liar… And he's a racist and a sexist and a homophobe." pic.twitter.com/fgOFT7vlnf
— The Hill (@thehill) April 14, 2019
Donald Trump has denied being racist, and, on Sunday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders appeared on ABC News to say that Trump was not trying to incite violence against Omar with his criticisms this week. As the Washington Examiner noted, Sanders called out Omar for what she said was a history of anti-Semitic comments and called on Democrats to condemn these remarks.