Sen. Schumer battered by both the right and left in new role


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  • Senator Chuck Schumer of New York (schumer.senate.gov)



By STEVE PEOPLES

(AP) — Thousands of angry liberals packed the icy sidewalk outside Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer's Brooklyn apartment. They mocked him with signs like “Grow a spine, Chuck!" and “Chuck's a chicken." And they chanted, “Filibuster everything!"

Such is the bind Schumer finds himself in as he emerges as the leader of the anti-Trump resistance on Capitol Hill.

The Senate minority leader is not only ridiculed and insulted by President Donald Trump but is also under fire from many of his own constituents, who complain that he is not fighting hard enough against the president.

“He has to champion the resistance or he has to get out of the way!" shouted 39-year-old Hae-Lin Choi, one of the leaders of the protest last week.

The fourth-term senator has irked many New Yorkers by supporting three of the president's early Cabinet selections. Schumer has since vowed to oppose at least eight of Trump's Cabinet picks, including would-be Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“Our values are what matters to us. These Cabinet nominees almost to a person, many of them, certainly the big eight, are against our values," Schumer told reporters this week.

Schumer spokesman Angelo Roefaro described the senator as a “leading opponent" of Trump's nominees for his Cabinet and the Supreme Court, and the GOP push to replace the federal health care law.

“The overwhelming majority of New Yorkers, Democrats and even those at the demonstration have shown their appreciation for his strong-willed actions," Roefaro said.

While the demonstrators who crowded into Brooklyn's Grand Army Plaza acknowledged that the senator's stand against Trump's ban on travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries, and his opposition to the president's Supreme Court pick, are a step in the right direction, they said they are still not satisfied.

“He needs to make it impossible for them to get anything done," said Ali Adler, a 28-year-old Brooklyn woman.

Trump first mocked the 66-year-old senator as the Democrats' “head clown" during the fight over the health care law, known as Obamacare. This week, the president branded him “Fake Tears Chuck Schumer" after the senator got choked up while denouncing the president's immigration order.

“I'm going to ask him who was his acting coach," Trump said.

Asked about Trump's insult, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said last week: “Chuck Schumer is not innocent in this. There's a lot of comments he's made. At some point, Chuck Schumer needs to be held accountable for his actions and his words."

At the same time, some of the protesters outside Schumer's apartment in Park Slope said his close ties to the political establishment make it difficult for them to trust him.

Choi called Schumer “as corporate a Democrat as they come" — “bought and paid for by Goldman Sachs."

Another protest organizer, Elizabeth Zeldin, said she was “horrified" by Schumer's early support for Trump's Cabinet.

“I'm very concerned that he is saying the right thing now and is once again going to go back into deal-making mode with the Trump administration," she said. “This is going to be a really tough, long fight ahead, and he can't regress."

The protests at Schumer's doorstep show little sign of slowing down.

“We're not going to sit idly by when our Democracy is crumbling beneath us," said Celia Caro, a 50-year-old Brooklyn art teacher who said the recent women's march was her first protest as an adult.

“I'm in for the long haul," she said.

AP writer Erica Werner in Washington contributed to this report.

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