Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer delivered a fiery speech during the inauguration on Friday that appeared to take shots, however indirectly, at Donald Trump.
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.”
Some observers interpreted the speech as a subtle dig at Trump:
Chuck Schumer now gives the ceremonial subtweet.
— Ryan Teague Beckwith (@ryanbeckwith) January 20, 2017
Sen. Chuck Schumer delivering the pre-Trump-address rebuttal
— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) January 20, 2017
It shouldn’t be a subtweet for Schumer to be like “disabled people are people,” but we are inaugurating Donald Trump.
— Brian Beutler (@brianbeutler) January 20, 2017
Schumer’s speech wasn’t particularly well received by the crowd. Many booed as the minority leader warned of the challenges of a divided nation.
Some of Trump’s biggest boosters complained about the speech online.