Trump Speechwriter With White Nationalist Ties Exits the White House

Darren Beattie, a speechwriter for President Donald Trump, has left the White House after reporters uncovered that he had spoken at a conference of white nationalists.

CNN reports that it reached out about Beattie after finding out that he was listed as a speaker at the 2016 H.L. Mencken Club Conference.

Other speakers at 2016’s conference included John Derbyshire and Robert Weissberg, two National Review writers who were fired from the magazine in 2012 after expressing racist viewpoints.

Beattie confirmed that he was at the conference, telling CNN in an email Saturday: “In 2016 I attended the Mencken conference in question and delivered a stand-alone, academic talk titled ‘The Intelligentsia and the Right.’ I said nothing objectionable and stand by my remarks completely.”

“It was the honor of my life to serve in the Trump Administration. I love President Trump, who is a fearless American hero, and continue to support him one hundred percent,” he added. “I have no further comment.”

The White House asked CNN to hold off on the story for several days last week and then did not disclose when exactly Beattie had left. CNN reports that Beattie’s White House email worked until late Friday evening but was deactivated by Saturday.

“Mr. Beattie no longer works at the White House,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told CNN simply Friday night. “We don’t comment on personnel matters.”

[Mediaite]

Trump Pardons Oregon Ranchers Whose Case Inspired Wildlife Refuge Takeover

President Trump on Tuesday pardoned a pair of Oregon cattle ranchers who had been serving out five-year sentences for arson on federal land — punishments that inspired the armed occupation of a wildlife refuge in 2016 and brought widespread attention to anger over federal land management in the Western United States.

The case against the ranchers — Dwight L. Hammond, now 76, and his son, Steven D. Hammond, 49 — became a cause célèbre for an antigovernment group’s weekslong standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

The occupation, led by the Bundy family, drew hordes of militia members who commandeered government buildings and vehicles in tactical gear and long guns, promising to defend the family.

During his campaign, Mr. Trump played to that sense of Western grievance, and the pardon of the Hammonds was a signal to conservatives that he was sympathetic. His pardon in August of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz., was another such sign.

The Hammond pardons were the result of a monthslong push by agricultural groups like the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had been among the ranchers’ strongest supporters, according to the association’s executive director, Jerome Rosa.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said in a statement on Tuesday that the Obama administration had been “overzealous” in pursuing the Hammonds. “This was unjust,” she said.

The pardons drew immediate criticism from environmental groups and their allies, who said they would imperil the rule of law on public lands.

“This is so very wrong,” Joan Anzelmo, a former superintendent of Colorado National Monument, said in a message on Twitter. “No one is safe from from felons with friends in high places. Terrible. Dangerous. Wrong.”

The federal government owns about half the acres in the West, and Obama administration policies there often angered ranchers and others who work and live on those lands. His administration blocked new coal leases, imposed moratoriums on uranium drilling near the Grand Canyon, and placed an unprecedented amount of land and sea under heightened federal protection.

Mr. Trump, in contrast, has struck a far more favorable tone toward those who want to loosen regulation on public land, and he has been aided by Mr. Zinke. In December, the president sharply reduced the size of two conservation areas in Utah, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. It was the largest rollback of federal land protection in the nation’s history.

The Hammonds were prosecuted under a 1996 terrorism statute, passed after the Oklahoma City bombing, that imposed five-year mandatory minimum sentences for arson on federal property. Critics called the sentences too harsh.

“The Hammonds are multigeneration cattle ranchers in Oregon imprisoned in connection with a fire that leaked onto a small portion of neighboring public grazing land,” Ms. Sanders said. “The evidence at trial regarding the Hammonds’ responsibility for the fire was conflicting, and the jury acquitted them on most of the charges.”

In a pointed criticism of the Obama administration, she added, “The previous administration, however, filed an overzealous appeal that resulted in the Hammonds being sentenced to five years in prison.”

Dwight and Steven Hammond — who own about 13,000 acres of land in Eastern Oregon and once ran cattle on 26,000 acres of public land — have a history of conflict with federal officials, which indirectly led to the showdown in Oregon.

Both were convicted for a 2001 fire that burned more than 100 acres of federal land. While the Hammonds said it was devised to control invasive species, witnesses at their trial testified that it occurred after Steven Hammond and a hunting party illegally slaughtered several deer. The jury was told that Steven Hammond handed out matches and told allies to “light up the whole country on fire.”

He was also convicted of setting a second fire, in 2006, which he said was meant to manage the spread of other wildfires, a common practice.

The pair was convicted in 2012 and served a short time in prison. But a federal appeals court ruled in 2015 that they had been improperly sentenced and ordered them to return to prison.

Word of this second imprisonment soon reached the Bundy family, a sprawling ranching clan based in Bunkerville, Nev., that in recent years had emerged as a symbol of the most extreme version of the push against federal land control.

Angered by the Hammond case, two of the Bundy brothers, Ryan and Ammon, traveled to Oregon and stormed the Malheur wildlife refuge in what turned into a standoff with federal officials.

Many of those who joined the protest were members of unofficial militias who carried long guns and pistols and dressed as if at war. The occupation resulted in the death of a rancher from Arizona.

The Hammonds, however, never asked for the help of the Bundys or the militia members, and amid it all, quietly headed to prison.

The pardons will shave some time off the Hammonds’ sentences — Dwight Hammond has served three years and Steven Hammond has served four.

Ryan Bundy, one of the occupation leaders, hailed the president’s announcement of the pardons as a victory, the latest in a string of wins for his family. Mr. Bundy was ultimately acquitted for his role in the takeover, and is now running for governor of Nevada.

“Awesome, awesome, awesome,” he said. “It’s been a long time coming. It’s been a long time coming. That is good news.”

The move also drew praise from the cattlemen’s association.

“I had the opportunity to have a private meeting with him,” Mr. Rosa, the group’s executive director, said of Mr. Zinke. “I mentioned to him the Hammond situation. He was well aware of it, agreed that the Hammonds were good people, and said he would talk to the president and give his blessing to release the Hammonds from prison.”

Representative Greg Walden, Republican of Oregon, also lobbied aggressively for the pair’s release.

But some conservation groups strongly opposed the decision.

“Pardoning the Hammonds sends a dangerous message to America’s park rangers, wildland firefighters, law enforcement officers and public lands managers,” Jennifer Rokala, executive director of the Center for Western Priorities, said in a statement. “President Trump, at the urging of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, has once again sided with lawless extremists who believe that public land does not belong to all Americans.”

The Hammonds are the sixth and seventh people to receive pardons from Mr. Trump. In all his pardons, Mr. Trump bypassed the typical process (a five-year waiting period is required for requests to be made to the Justice Department) and passed over the more than 10,000 pardon and clemency applications. The president has the power to pardon anyone sentenced for a federal offense.

[The New York Times]

Trump embraces pro-Confederate anti-immigrant Senate nominee Corey Stewart

Trump tweeted about another GOP primary in a way that is sure to give Republicans heartburn.

While national Republicans are likely to distance themselves from Corey Stewart — the GOP nominee in Virginia’s Senate race who has embraced Confederate symbols and neo-Nazi figures — Trump congratulated Stewart on his win.

“Congratulations to Corey Stewart for his great victory for Senator from Virginia,” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning. “Now he runs against a total stiff, Tim Kaine, who is weak on crime and borders, and wants to raise your taxes through the roof. Don’t underestimate Corey, a major chance of winning!”

Trump’s praise of Stewart is far different from other Republicans, who lament the fact that Stewart won and have condemned Stewart’s embrace of Confederate symbols.

“I am extremely disappointed that a candidate like Corey Stewart could win the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate,” Bill Bolling, a Republican and former lieutenant governor of Virginia, tweetedTuesday night. “This is clearly not the Republican Party I once knew, loved and proudly served. Every time I think things can’t get worse they do, and there is no end in sight.”

[Mic]

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting director to speak at hate group event

ICE deputy director Thomas Homan will be at the National Press Club on Tuesday morning to participate in an event hosted by the anti-immigrant hate group Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).

Homan’s participation comes just days after news that President Trump tapped a CIS fellow, Ronald Mortensen, to serve as assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

Unfortunately, Homan will be lending further credibility to a group that for over three decades has published a litany of reports and blog posts demonizing immigrants and blaming them for virtually all of the United States’ ills. Founded by white nationalist John Tanton, CIS has also circulated white nationalist content thousands of times.

Last year, former CIS staffer Jon Feere was appointed to serve as Homan’s special adviser and Homan himself has made a number of hardline, anti-immigrant statements. In June 2017, Homan sounded a warning to undocumented immigrants: “If you’re in this country illegally… you should be uncomfortable. You should look over your shoulder, and you need to be worried.”

Homan, like Trump and the broader anti-immigrant movement, has made attacking so-called sanctuary cities a priority. In January 2018, Homan threatened elected officials in these jurisdictions, telling Fox News, “We gotta take [sanctuary cities] to court and we gotta start charging some of these politicians with crimes.” In April, Homan announced that he will resign this summer. His resignation comes at a time when ICE is under major scrutiny for militaristic worksite raidsand separating migrant parents from their children.

The Trump administration’s entire immigration policy regime has pulled directly from the anti-immigrant movement, including populating it with personnel from groups like CIS and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Homan’s appearance on Tuesday further cements that relationship.

https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2018/06/04/us-immigration-and-customs-enforcement-acting-director-speak-hate-group-event-tomorrow#.WxVs39Y9Qig.twitter

Germans Appalled by Threat From Trump’s Ambassador to Help Far-Right Nationalists Take Power Across Europe

THE GERMAN GOVERNMENT demanded a formal explanation from the United States on Monday of what, exactly, the new U.S. ambassador in Berlin, Richard Grenell, meant when he promised to use his office to help far-right nationalists inspired by Donald Trump take power across Europe.

In an interview with Breitbart News, published on Sunday, Grenell said he was “excited” by the rise of far-right parties on the continent and wanted “to empower other conservatives throughout Europe, other leaders.”

Grenell was apparently not asked if that group includes the far-right Alternative for Germany — known by its German initials AfD — the largest opposition party in the German parliament, but he did praise Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, a center-right politician who is in coalition with the Freedom Party, which was formed in the 1950s by a former Nazi officer.

A spokesperson for the German foreign ministry told reporters that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government had “asked the U.S. side for clarification” as to whether the remarks “were made as reported.”

Grenell, a former Fox News pundit whose abrasive Twitter style had already alienated many Germans, tweeted on Monday that it was “ridiculous” to suggest that he would endorse candidates or parties, but stood by his claim to Breitbart that Europe, like America, was “experiencing an awakening from the silent majority — those who reject the elites and their bubble. Led by Trump.”

Leaving aside that Trump was, in fact, elected by a hypervocal minority of American voters, his envoy’s apparent willingness to cast off diplomatic neutrality and meddle in the internal affairs of European countries caused an uproar.

Sevim Dagdelen, a member of the left-wing German opposition party Die Linke, suggested that Grenell had revealed himself to be Trump’s “regime change envoy.”

The leaders of Germany’s Social Democratic Party, the junior coalition partner in Merkel’s government, were similarly unstinting in their condemnation. “Europe’s citizens cannot be told how to vote by a Trump vassal,” the party’s vice chair, Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel, wrote on Twitter. “A U.S. ambassador who meddles in democratic contests is simply out of place,” he added, perhaps hinting that the ambassador could be asked to go home.

Martin Schulz, the former leader of the Social Democrats, accused Grenell of behaving less like a diplomat than “an extreme-right colonial officer.”

Omid Nouripour, the foreign policy spokesman for Germany’s Green party, told Der Spiegel that “the American people should be able to expect partisan neutrality from their representative in Germany, because he represents all Americans, not just Breitbart and Fox News.”

Guy Verhofstadt, a former prime minister of Belgium who now leads the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, a free-market group in the European Parliament, tweeted: “We have to defend Europe against Trump. It’s not up to his ambassador to influence our elections and steer our society. We respect the sovereignty of the U.S., they have to respect ours.” Verhofstadt added the hashtag #GrenellRaus — “Grenell Out” — to his tweet.

There was, however, one political leader in Berlin on Monday who demonstrated his support for the embattled American ambassador. Israel’s far-right prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, announced at a news conference with Merkel that he had agreed to a brief meeting with Grenell, at the ambassador’s request, before leaving the German capital.

Before he was confirmed by the Senate, Grenell — a hyperpartisan Republican activist whose farewell party in New York was attended by Donald Trump Jr., Bill O’Reilly, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Wayne Newton, and a half-dozen Fox News personalities — had promised to stay out of German politics.

[The Intercept]

Dinesh D’Souza on His Pardon From Trump: He Called Me a ‘Great Voice for Freedom’

Conservative provocateur Dinesh D’Souza appeared on Fox & Friends today to continue his celebrations after President Trump pardoned him yesterday for his criminal violations of campaign finance law.

D’Souza said the pardon was not something he expected, and he also reiterated what Trump said yesterday about how the case against him was unfair and he wanted D’Souza to be a bigger voice.

“The president said Dinesh, you have been a great voice for freedom. And he said that I got to tell you man-to-man have you been screwed. He goes I have been looking at the case. I knew from the beginning that it was fishy. But he said upon reviewing it he felt a great injustice had been done and that using his power he was going to rectify it and clear the slate, and he said he just wanted me to be out there and be a bigger voice than ever defending the principles that I believe in.”

D’Souza went on by continuing his argument that he was a victim of “selective prosecution” in which the Obama-era justice system targeted him and other conservatives.

“This was a vindictive political hit that was kind of aimed at putting me out of business, essentially making, destroying my credibility, making it impossible for me to make movies, write books. And that has failed but it still left a cloud over me. I would be a lifelong felon. I would never be able to vote and never have my full rights. So I’m very grateful to President Trump for giving me those rights back.”

D’Souza also took the opportunity to take more shots at Preet Bharara, the Obama-era U.S. attorney whose office oversaw the prosecution against him. He said that he only pled guilty to campaign finance violations because the justice system used “legal bludgeoning tactics” to force his admission, or else the government would’ve filed more charges against him.

[Mediaite]

Reality

D’Souza once praised the 9/11 hijackers as “warriors.” This is who Trump pardoned.

Media

Trump praises conservative activist Candace Owens as a ‘very smart thinker’

President Trump on Wednesday praised conservative activist Candace Owens, who he said “is having a big impact” on American politics.

“Candace Owens of Turning Point USA is having a big impact on politics in our Country,” the president wrote on Twitter.

“She represents an ever expanding group of very smart ‘thinkers,’ and it is wonderful to watch and hear the dialogue going on…so good for our Country!”

Owens is the communications director for Turning Point USA, a conservative nonprofit that focuses on working with students on college campuses.

Rapper Kanye West recently heaped similar praise on Owens and the two later met in person.

“I love the way Candace Owens thinks,” West wrote on Twitter.

The president last year praised the founder of Turning Point USA just one day after an investigation revealed that an official with the organization had sent racist text messages. The organization fired the employee following the report.

“’The President has accomplished some absolutely historic things during this past year.’ Thank you Charlie Kirk of Turning Points USA,” Trump wrote at the time on Twitter, referring to the organization’s founder.

“Sadly, the Fake Mainstream Media will NEVER talk about our accomplishments in their end of year reviews. We are compiling a long & beautiful list.”

[The Hill]

Reality

The inflammatory Owens used a TMZ appearance to come to the defense of neo-Nazis and call the police killings of black men a trivial issue. She insisted that Trump has neither proposed harmful policies nor made offensive remarks towards African Americans.

Corey Lewandowski flashes white power ‘OK’ symbol on stage at Trump’s Michigan rally

Corey Lewandowski, who was campaign manger for Donald Trump in 2016 until being fired for being charged with battery after he grabbed a female reporter, joined Donald Trump on stage in Michigan Saturday night.

Lewandowski briefly took the microphone, and confusedly introduced Trump as “the next president of the United States.”

But not before he appeared to flash the “OK” symbol, as captured by Fox News cameras which had a wide-view shot at the time.

The “OK” symbol is widely used by white supremacists like Richard Spencer, though alt-right types like Stephen Miller and random interns also use it.

While the symbol is used by white supremacists as a symbol of their common beliefs, they also claim it’s a meta-troll and that people are getting angry about an “OK” symbol. The Anti-Defamation League says it’s not a hate symbol—it’s just a symbol made by right-wingers who want to show they have an affinity with Nazis but who are not Nazis.

[Raw Story]

Trump nominee to lead migrant agency shared Clinton, DNC conspiracies

President Trump’s pick to lead a United Nations migrant relief organization made hundreds of comments pushing conspiracy theories about Islam and Democrats, according to a CNN investigation published Thursday.

Ken Isaacs, the Trump administration’s choice to lead the UN’s International Organization for Migration, has faced additional scrutiny after CNN uncovered old social media posts where he appeared to equate all Muslims with terrorists.

On Thursday, CNN published a new trove of past comments.

CNN found that Isaacs also shared conspiracy theories about the Clintons and about the death of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich.

In the summer of 2016, Isaacs tweeted that Switzerland should consider building a wall in the Alps to keep refugees from crossing the border, and responded to a terrorist attack in Nice, France, by saying Islam “is not peaceful.”

Last August, he retweeted a user who claimed climate change is a “big hoax,” and wrote that scientists “can’t predict path of a visible storm yet but certain of manmade climate change.”

Isaacs previously apologized after CNN uncovered his initial comments about Muslims, saying his social media use was “careless.”

He declined to comment on Thursday’s story, and the State Department pointed to a past statement of support for his nomination.

If confirmed, Isaacs will lead the International Organization for Migration, which oversees the use of roughly $1 billion in migrant aid across the world.

[The Hill]

Trump HUD appointee spread conspiracy about Hillary Clinton’s satanic ritual

Joe Gibbs, one of President Trump’s appointees in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, spread the false rumor that Hillary Clinton is a Satanist during the 2016 election, CNN reports.

John Gibbs was a conservative commentator tapped to join HUD as the head of a program aimed at spurring economic development and now holds the title of senior adviser in the community planning and development division.

On Twitter, Gibbs used the “#spiritcooking” hashtag, helping spread the rumor that Clinton and her campaign chairman John Podesta participated in a Satanic ritual involving the consumption of bodily fluids. #Spiritcooking evolved into the better-known #pizzagate despite being debunked at every turn.

The tweets from Gibbs are archived on the Wayback Machine.

He also used the term “cucks” in a defense of Milo Yiannopoulos and defended anti-Semitic alt-right commenter Ricky Vaughn when he was banned from Twitter.

[RawStory]

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