Group Rallies Against Trump’s Chief Strategist Steve Bannon at Midtown Hotel

They argued that Bannon is an anti-Semite — a charge that the Trump transition team has repeatedly denied

Protesters gathered outside a hotel in midtown Manhattan on Sunday night as they awaited President-elect Donald Trump’s newly appointed Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.

The group blocked access to the entrance of the Grand Hyatt hotel, where Bannon was expected to attend the 2016 Zionist Organization of America's annual gala. It’s unclear if he ever showed up.

The group IfNotNow helped organize the protest and many in the crowd were young and Jewish. On social media the group boasted that up to "700 Jews" prevented Bannon from speaking at the gala.

They argued that Bannon is an anti-Semite — a charge that the Trump transition team has repeatedly denied.

Bannon, 62, is one of Trump’s most controversial hires. He joined Trump's campaign as CEO in August after serving as the head of Breitbart News — a far-right outlet that is one of Trump's biggest backers.

Bannon, onetime Breitbart News chief, worked for Goldman Sachs, then started his own media-focused boutique investment banking firm. After selling the business, he became a film producer, which introduced him to conservative publisher Andrew Breitbart and author Peter Schweizer. Bannon led the Breitbart website, which has been widely condemned as racist, sexist and anti-Semitic.

But the Anti-Defamation League, while addressing Breitbart's inflammatory stance under Bannon's guidance, observed that Bannon has never made any anti-Semitic remarks.

"While there is a long fact pattern of evidence that Breitbart served as a platform for a wide range of bigotry and there is some controversy related to statements from Mr. Bannon’s divorce proceedings in 2007, we are not aware of any anti-Semitic statements made by Bannon himself," the organization said in a statement.

Bannon's ex-wife claimed in a 2007 divorce filing, though, that he made three separate anti-Semitic comments when they fought over which private school to send their kids nearly a decade ago in Los Angeles, NBC News reported. Bannon has denied the allegation.

Jewish groups and a long list of Democratic leaders have denounced Bannon's hiring and called on Trump to reconsider.

Trump Tower was also the scene of a rally on Sunday. Supporters of Trump held signs of approval for the president-elect. At one point they came face-to-face with a large group of anti-Trump demonstrators. Police used barricades to keep the peace. 

On Sunday, Trump met with more than a dozen potential cabinate appointees at his western New Jersey golf club, Trump National Golf Club.

“Great people coming, you’ll see,” Trump said.

Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence met with Rudy Giuliani and Gov. Chris Christie but made no announcements Sunday.

Meetings will carry on at Trump Tower on Monday and Tuesday as Trump continues his transition into the White House.

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