The recent spate of reports revealing connections between the Trump White House and the far right isn’t over yet. The latest is recently resigned Homeland Security policy analyst Ian M. Smith. Emails leaked to The Atlantic show Smith was on the same threads as white supremacist Richard Spencer and Jared Taylor, who founded the white nationalist publication American Renaissance.
Smith is the third Trump administration official to be connected to white nationalists in the last two weeks. First, Trump speechwriter Darren Beattie was fired after it was revealed that he attended a white nationalist conference. Then, the press discovered that white nationalist publisher Peter Brimelow attended Trump economic advisor Larry Kudlow’s birthday party. Kudlow said that he didn’t know of Brimelow’s views, though admitted they’d been friends for many years.
Smith was on emails organizing an “Alt Right Toastmasters” event, though he says he didn’t attend. “I no longer work at DHS as of last week and didn’t attend any of the events you’ve mentioned,” Smith told The Atlantic. The timing of his departure suggests that it was in response to The Atlantic’s reporting.
DHS spokesperson Tyler Q. Houlton responded to The Atlantic’s inquiry about Smith, informing reporters that he had resigned. “The Department of Homeland Security is committed to combating all forms of violent extremism, especially movements that espouse racial supremacy or bigotry. This type of radical ideology runs counter to the Department’s mission of keeping America safe,” Houlton said.
What was Smith working on at DHS? You guessed it: immigration. Limiting immigration has been a pet cause of his for years. Before joining the administration, he worked for the Immigration Reform Law Institute, an anti-immigration legal organization. He also wrote columns for the National Review and The Hill on topics like opposing sanctuary cities and ending DACA.
The emails obtained by The Atlantic seem to indicate that Smith had a familiarity with white nationalist personalities, including Richard Spencer, who he referred to by his first name.
From The Atlantic:
Though the emails don’t show Smith and Spencer interacting, some of the messages indicate a familiarity on Smith’s part with Spencer’s projects. In another email sent on March 7, 2015, Smith refers to an event held by “NPI,” the acronym for the National Policy Institute, Spencer’s white nationalist non-profit, saying he had missed it because he was out of town. And in another on May 9, 2016, Smith recommended someone for a job at prominent, Trump-supporting media outlet, saying that the person was “currently working in development at LI” (the conservative training group the Leadership Institute) “writes for Radix, Amren, VDare and Chronicles under a pseudonym.” The word “Amren” refers to American Renaissance; Radix is Spencer’s publication. Chronicles appears to refer to Chronicles Magazine, another publication associated with this movement, which has published Lutton and Sam Francis, the late editor of the Council of Conservative Citizens’ newsletter. Smith also wrote that the person he had recommended “helps Richard and JT with their websites,” appearing to refer to Spencer and Jared Taylor.
Another email exchange between real estate agent and alt-righter Ben Zapp and Smith found Zapp humorously using the Nazi slang judenfrei, meaning “free of Jews,” to discuss Friday night plans, which Smith responded “They don’t call it Freitag for nothing,” seemingly echoing Zapp’s use of German. Smith then mentioned that he hoped to socialize with Mike Parrot later that night, who is a former spokesperson for the neo-Nazi Traditionalist Worker Party.
I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that Smith was friends with all of these people while working on an immigration policy that kills and imprisons brown people.