In a year that saw much of the GOP party cave to Donald Trump, reversing their outspoken criticisms in stunning 180s that opted for blind party loyalty over principled stands (see: Ted Cruz, Mitt Romney, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, etc. ), Ana Navarro was a breath of fresh air.
Navarro – a Nicaraguan-born political strategist who came to the United States at age 8 during the Sandinista revolution – is a lifelong Republican. But as CNN’s Republican political commentator, she has been a vocal critic of Donald Trump since day one, lambasting him on everything from his treatment of women to his plan to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants.
A fixture in politics for years, Navarro helped shape Jeb Bush’s immigration policy during his time as Florida’s governor and served as national co-chair of John McCain’s Hispanic Advisory Council in 2008. But this year was unlike any other for the pundit. Her quick wit, honest, unfiltered sound-bites, and willingness to stick to her guns – even if it meant not backing the GOP nominee for the first time in her life – made her a frequent trending topic in 2016, and a growing household name.
As we gear up for a tumultuous four years, there’s no doubt that Ana will continue to step up to challenge Trump. But until her next viral turn, revisit six videos that prove why 2016 was the year of Ana Navarro:
When she ripped Trump for coming after a Mexican-American judge
As Trump faced a lawsuit over misconduct and predatory practices at the now-defunct Trump University, he found an easy scapegoat in Judge Gonzalo Curiel. After Curiel ordered that Trump release internal documents, the President-elect lashed out and said that Curiel’s ties to Mexico make him biased. But on The Situation Room, Ana tore him a new one.
“He is trying to distract from the fact that he has got a problem with a case where there are allegations that his business is a scam and a fraud,” she said. “How dare he question a judge’s responsibility, a judge’s adherence to the constitution because he is of Mexican descent? This man was born in East Chicago. He is an American citizen. He’s just as American as Donald Trump.”
When she reminded Trump that most people are immigrants
When anti-immigrant advocates speak about the United State’s beginnings, they conveniently leave out the indigenous populations that already inhabited the country before the first Europeans arrived. As they peddle their romanticized versions of the country’s origins, they erase the native populations’ experience. But one June day, Ana used her platform to remind Trump that even he is an immigrant.
“If you don’t think a wise Latina can make a better judgement than white men, you haven’t met enough of us girl,” she said during CNN’s New Day. “We are proud of our heritage the same way you are proud of yours… Are you telling me Antonin Scalia could not make a good judgement because he was the child of Italian immigrants? We are a fabric in America! We are a melting pot! Neither [Jeffrey Lord] or Donald Trump are direct descendants of Pocahontas, so you can stop right now saying that heritage, that race, that history are not part of our society in America. They are and it’s part of what makes America great again. Donald Trump wants to make America hate again.”
When she shut down double standards
One of Navarro’s most memorable CNN appearances came in October when she said pussy on TV. Following leaked footage of Donald Trump telling Billy Bush that he likes to “grab [women] by the pussy,” Ana and a group of commentators gathered to discuss the controversy. A fed up Navarro said, “My choice is to consider him a disgusting man who has consistently disgusted me from the first day of the campaign, and I think that every single Republican is going to have to answer the question, what did you do the day you saw the tape about this man boasting about grabbing a woman’s pussy?”
Scottie Nell Hughes – who had previously excused his behavior, according to Fusion – reprimanded Navarro for using “that word” because her daughter was watching. And maybe this would have worked on someone else, but not on Ana, who shut down sexism and double standards real quick. “You know what Scottie?” Navarro said. “Don’t tell me you’re offended when I say the word when you’re not offended by the man you’re supporting. That’s absurd.”
Her impassioned speech made her a top trending topic, and earned her an invitation to Trevor Noah’s The Daily Show.
When she explained why Trump will never serve all Americans
Less than a week after his victory, Ana Navarro appeared on CNN’s New Day to explain why she can’t give Trump a chance and how he’d already failed the people of the United States. “I think that the appointments he makes early on are the first signal he sends about what kind of president he is going to be,” she said. “Many of us are torn by the utter disdain that we have for candidate Donald Trump and the utmost respect we have for the office of the presidency of the United States, and we want to give this guy a chance. We want to extend the olive branch and extend one to us, but if what he is doing is naming someone like Steven Bannon, who has got such a track record and such a reputation for being controversial, for leading the hunting season against Republicans.”
And she was right on the nose when she said that his cabinet only serves the interests of small margin of the country. Trump’s built a team of mostly rich, white men – meaning there’s hardly any diverse voices to help shape criminal justice and health care policy.
When she wanted Trump to own up for stoking nativist fears
Less than a week after Trump’s election, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported that more than 200 people were victims of hate crimes. Many believe that his election gave his followers license to act on their discriminatory tendencies. In a CNN segment, Navarro said that Trump needed to take more responsibility for what was happening across the country.
“What Donald Trump has to do is take responsibility,” she said. “He’s unleashed the Kraken, and it is not a coincidence that after he got elected, hate crimes spiked up. It is not a coincidence the KKK celebrated his victory and wanted a parade in North Carolina. It is not a coincidence these white supremacists were holding their hands up in a Nazi salute yelling ‘Heil Trump.’ He needs to take leadership and take ownership and he needs to go out and try to unify the country. Stop fighting with Broadway… Fight the division in the country. Fight the white supremacists.”
Trump surrogate Kayleigh McEnany once again defended him, and said that Trump was the only person thinking about uniting the country. But Ana wouldn’t let her comment slide. “Let me tell you something that probably doesn’t happen to you,” Navarro added. “I get stopped by children who are afraid of going to school. I get stopped by Muslims who are afraid of going out in the street and having the scarves torn off their heads.”
When she showed a DREAMer compassion
On The Messy Truth With Van Jones, DREAMer Elizabeth Vilchis discussed her fear that President-elect Donald Trump would undo the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which allowed her to go to school and find work as a mechanical engineer. Motivated by the shortage of people in science and technology jobs, Vilchis not only joined this sector, but she also spent a decade helping others break into the field. So when she asked former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum for advice on how to prepare for an uncertain future, she likely expected a more nuanced answer. Instead, Santorum – the son of an Italian immigrant – couldn’t empathize.
“You have the ability to go to any other country right now and apply those wares, and be successful, and reapply to come back to America,” he said.
After his dismissive comments, Ana Navarro asked if she could say something. “First of all, this is your country,” she told Vilchis. “No matter what he says, no matter what anybody else says, this is your country. And I, as an American, thank you for the contributions you are making to our joint country. I want you here. You’ve got to tell your story, and change and affect public opinion. Because your stories are beautiful. They’re the stories of the American dream.”