You probably remember: Right after Donald Trump became President, one of his first orders of business was launching an illegal, bigoted Muslim ban.
We all felt powerless at the time – Republicans had just won the White House and both branches of Congress – but my staff and I wanted to do something about it. So we tried to get answers from the Department of Homeland Security about their policy of illegally detaining Massachusetts residents (and their family members) at Boston Logan Airport.
There was only one problem: Trump’s new Director of Homeland Security – John Kelly – wouldn’t return our calls and emails. My staff emailed back and forth with his staff, but we couldn’t get them to set up a call or answer our questions.
When I finally did get on the phone with John Kelly, I asked if he had an office number that I could use in the future to get in touch more quickly. He brushed me off, directing me to the main line listed on the Department of Homeland Security’s website (really). Even worse, he bizarrely insisted that I’d made the whole thing up and we’d never tried to reach him in the first place. I happened to be looking at all the emails between his staff and my staff when he said this, so I started reading them to him. He accused me again of making it all up.
My policy staffers were in the room. And to this day, I’ve never seen so many jaws drop in unison. It was one of the first times we saw “alternative facts” so up close and personal. And one of the first times we saw how truly dysfunctional the executive branch had become – and how quickly.
So what happened next? You guessed it – I persisted. I asked again for his number. He hemmed and hawwed, and he again tried to give me the Department’s main line. Let’s just say that’s when the conversation really started getting awkward – and that I persisted longer than he did. Eventually, he didn’t just give me his office number – he gave me his cell number.
Before we got off the phone, I gave him something back for his troubles – a message on behalf of the American people that it was time to follow the court order and allow people stranded abroad to board planes into Logan International Airport.
Was I tough on John Kelly in that phone call? You bet I was. And apparently he didn’t like it.
According to an email he wrote about our conversation just afterwards, which was just released, he called me “an impolite arrogant woman”:
What an impolite arrogant woman. She immediately began insulting our people accusing them of not following the court order, insulting and abusive behavior towards those covered by the pause, blah blah blah.
“Blah blah blah.” That’s all he had to say when he was called out for breaking the law and destroying lives. And I don’t know about John Kelly – but there are some men who can only hear “blah blah blah” whenever a woman’s talking. One of his aides wrote back, “Too bad Senate Majority Leader McConnell couldn’t order her to be quiet again!”
Clever. Well, Mitch McConnell can’t shut me up – and neither can John Kelly. (He can’t even get Donald Trump off Twitter, and as far as I can tell, that was his main job description when he took on the role of White House Chief of Staff).
It’s been a long two years since Donald Trump became President. But the night the Muslim ban started will be seared in my brain forever. That night, I went to Logan Airport to join the protest. It was an incredible sight – a sea of people rushing to East Boston to make their voices heard. There’s nothing impolite about people’s right to speak out and hold their government accountable. And sometimes, people are right to be angry.
It’s been a long two years, but November 6th, we’ll have another chance to make our voices heard and fight back against Donald Trump, John Kelly, and all the bigoted creeps still strutting and smirking around 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Tick tock, Donald. But we aren’t out of the woods yet. Please chip in now to support our re-election campaign and help make sure Democrats win BIG across the country.