With Trump sitting several feet away just minutes before he was sworn in as president, the Democratic senator said Americans "live in challenging and tumultuous times," citing "a fractured media, a politics frequently consumed by rancor."
The minority leader proceeded to highlight many of the minority communities that Trump disparaged at times during the 2016 presidential campaign. Schumer particularly highlighted immigrants — whom Trump occasionally dubbed "rapists" — and people with disabilities.
"We face threats foreign and domestic," Schumer said. "In such times, faith in our government, our institutions, and even our country can erode. Despite these challenges, I stand here today confident in this great country for one reason: you, the American people."
He added: "Whatever our race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity. Whether we are immigrant or native-born. Whether we live with disabilities or do not. In wealth or in poverty, we are all exceptional in our commonly held, yet fierce devotion to our country."
Schumer celebrated the transition but emphasized equal protections for Americans.
"Today we celebrate one of democracy's core attributes: the peaceful transfer of power. And every day we stand up for core democratic principles enshrined in the Constitution. The rule of law, equal protection for all under law, the freedom of speech, press, religion. The things that make America, America."
|Sen. Chuck Schumer speaks at Trump's inauguration. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky|
Schumer: Trump's Cabinet Picks a 'Disaster'
President-elect Donald Trump’s choice of Cabinet members have bothered Democrats and ought to worry Republicans, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on CNN on Friday.
"This Cabinet selection has been a disaster for the president. We call it the swamp Cabinet," the New York senator said on "New Day."
"More conflicts of interest than you have ever seen. People whose positions are fundamentally different than President-elect Trump's."
Schumer pointed to Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., Trump's pick to head Health and Human Services, as an example of a nominee who disagrees with Trump.
"President-elect Trump said, 'I'm not gonna cut Medicare.' People in America are for Medicare," the senator said. "His nominee for the secretary of health and human services made a career of trying to privatize, which means end Medicare as we know it."
And although "these Cabinet nominees need scrutiny," Schumer said Republican senators "have tried to rush them through."
Despite the problems he sees with Trump's choices, Schumer said it’s "too early to tell" if the Senate will refuse to confirm any of the nominees. He did say that Homeland Security nominee retired Gen. John Kelly, Defense Secretary nominee James Mattis, and CIA Director nominee Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., will most likely be confirmed Friday or Monday.
Republican strategist Ana Navarro also criticized Trump’s Cabinet picks on CNN on Friday, telling Anderson Cooper on "AC360," "I do not accept that there's not one qualified Hispanic that can be in his Cabinet.
"I think it is so important for little boys and girls who are Latinos, who are African- Americans to look up to people who are in these positions and who have this platform and this pulpit," Navarro continued. "I think it's so important for communities to feel represented and they have a seat at the table."
Incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer defended Trump, saying the president-elect has committed to diversity in his Cabinet.
"What you're seeing and you're going to continue to see not just through the Cabinet but through the entire thing is a diversity in gender, diversity in thinking diversity of ideology," Spicer said at a news conference Thursday. "It's not just about skin color or ethnic heritage, but you look at the totality of this Cabinet -- an Indian-American, an African-American, an Asian-American, it's about a lot of things.”