Ian M. Smith, a former Department of Homeland Security official, resigned last week after he was linked to white nationalists in leaked emails published by The Atlantic. Now, we’re getting a clearer picture of the influence he may have wielded. According to the Washington Post, Smith was far up enough in the department to attend meetings with senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller.
The emails leaked to The Atlantic showed Smith chatting on threads that included white nationalists like Richard Spencer and Jared Taylor (whom he referred to as “Richard and JT”). In one exchange, he seemed to joke about using Nazi slang.
The Post writes:
In one email from 2015, Smith responded to a group dinner invitation whose host said his home would be “judenfrei,” a German word used by the Nazis during World War II to describe territory that had been “cleansed” of Jews during the Holocaust.
“They don’t call it Freitag for nothing,” Smith replied, using the German word for “Friday,” according to the Atlantic. “I was planning to hit the bar during the dinner hours and talk to people like Matt Parrot, etc.,” Smith added, a reference to the former spokesman for the neo-Nazi Traditionalist Worker Party.
Before coming to the White House, Smith worked for the Immigration Reform Law Institute, an anti-immigration think tank whose ideas are influential in the Trump administration. The Post wrote that Smith was mostly standing in for absent superiors when he went to White House meetings and did not contribute much. But one source told the paper that he “wasn’t just some low-level schlub who didn’t do anything.”
As a Trump staffer, he was involved with refugee issues and temporary worker visas, according to the Post. He also helped with an effort to penalize immigrants who use tax credits.
To summarize: a guy who was on a first-name basis with Richard Spencer, who joked about Nazi slang in emails, and who talked about befriending neo-Nazis was working directly on creating harsher restrictions for non-white people trying to immigrate to the U.S. and had enough seniority to be able to attend White House meetings.
“The Department of Homeland Security is committed to combating all forms of violent extremism, especially movements that espouse racial supremacy or bigotry,” DHS spokesman Tyler Q. Houlton said in a statement to The Atlantic. “This type of radical ideology runs counter to the Department’s mission of keeping America safe.”
But Smith’s mission to slow immigration, which he wrote about in columns for the National Review and The Hill before coming to the Trump White House, was in fact totally in line with the president’s immigration policies. Smith, in his articles, discussed his support for building Trump’s border wall, deporting undocumented people, slowing even legal immigration, ending amnesty for refugees, and limiting work visas. That’s pretty much the Trump platform.
Smith isn’t the only recently outed white nationalist Trump employee. A Trump speechwriter named Darren Beattie was fired less than two weeks ago after it was discovered that he’d spoken at a white nationalist conference. Then, it emerged that Trump’s senior economic advisor, Larry Kudlow, invited white nationalist Peter Brimelow to his birthday party. Meanwhile, DHS is refusing the passport applications of Latinx people born in Texas.
If you didn’t know better, it might seem like this administration is just a bunch of racists.