Some of the Worst People in Trump’s Government

Trump’s “Very Fine” People:

Brett Talley

Stephen Miller

Jon Feere

James McHenry

Elizabeth Jacobs

Richard Grenell

Steven Menashi

Robert Law

Sebastian Gorka

Kathy Nuebel Kovarik

Anthony Tata

Douglas MacGregor

Darren Beattie

Brett Talley

Position: Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Policy

Start date: January 2017 (via LinkedIn)
Associations: [N/A]
WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 02: Brett Talley poses for a portrait at Holy Rood Cemetery on Tuesday December 02, 2014 in Washington, DC. Tally is a speechwriter and author. (Photo by Matt McClain/ The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Brett Talley had already been voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee and was on his way to a lifetime appointment to the federal bench when reporters discovered what he’d written about the Klan. Since 2005, Talley, a 36-year-old lawyer nominated for a seat on the US District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, appeared to have posted more than 16,000 comments on University of Alabama sports message board Writing as BamainBoston, he commented on everything from race to abortion. He disparaged Muslims, joked about statutory rape, and, most notably, wrote approvingly about Nathan Bedford Forrest, the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. He defended the “first KKK” as something entirely different than the racist, violent organization it’s known as today.

[…]Even before Talley’s Klan defense posts became public, he had an unusual résumé for someone vying for a federal judgeship. Talley, who also writes horror novels, had been an amateur ghost hunter for a number of years in Alabama. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 2007, he practiced law for less than three years and never tried a case. 

Stephanie Mencimer for Mother Jones “Trump Judicial Pick Who Blogged Favorably About the KKK Had to Withdraw. Now He’s at the Justice Department.” (July 2, 2018)

Stephen Miller

Position: Senior Policy Advisor to President Donald Trump

Start date: January 20, 2017 (via ProPublica)
Associations: VDARE, American Renaissance, Richard Spencer, Peter Brimelow, Breitbart News
Senior Advisor to the president Stephen Miller is seen during an immigration event with US President Donald Trump in the South Court Auditorium, next to the White House, on June 22, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

In the run-up to the 2016 election, White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller promoted white nationalist literature, pushed racist immigration stories and obsessed over the loss of Confederate symbols after Dylann Roof’s murderous rampage, according to leaked emails reviewed by Hatewatch.

The emails, which Miller sent to the conservative website Breitbart News in 2015 and 2016, showcase the extremist, anti-immigrant ideology that undergirds the policies he has helped create as an architect of Donald Trump’s presidency. These policies include reportedly setting arrest quotas for undocumented immigrants, an executive order effectively banning immigration from five Muslim-majority countries and a policy of family separation at refugee resettlement facilities that the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General said is causing “intense trauma” in children.

[…]Before entering into politics, Miller was in contact with [Peter] Brimelow, the VDARE founder, and Richard Spencer, who went on to become arguably the most notorious white nationalist in America. Spencer helped build the alt-right movement and was a central figure of the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017.

Miller knew and interacted with these men while studying at Duke University as an undergraduate, according to a first-hand account and email evidence. The interactions with Brimelow occurred about eight years after he founded the white nationalist VDARE.

Miller and Spencer, while serving together as members of Duke’s Conservative Union, a politics-focused club for students, arranged for Brimelow to debate journalist and University of Oregon professor Peter Laufer in March 2007 on Mexican immigration to the United States.

Michael Edison Hayden for Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch “Stephen Miller’s Affinity for White Nationalism Revealed in Leaked Emails” (November 12, 2019)

Jon Feere

Position: Senior Advisor at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the Department of Homeland Security

Start date: January 27, 2017 (via ProPublica)
Associations: CIS, VDARE, American Free Press (AFP)
(Photo via C-Span)

Feere is a senior adviser for ICE at the Department of Homeland Security. He also worked as an adviser on President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and as a legal policy analyst at the Center for Immigration Studies, a virulently anti-immigrant and nativist group that was founded by white nationalist John Tanton.

Feere also promoted the white nationalist publication VDare on Twitter and gave a 2012 interview about immigration to the anti-Semitic publication American Free Press.

Eric Hananoki for Media Matters “ICE senior adviser Jon Feere is an Ann Coulter superfan who loves her racist immigration writings” (February 7, 2019)

James McHenry

Position: Director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) at the U.S. Department of Justice

Start date: January 10, 2018 (via U.S. DOJ’s Office of Public Affairs)
Associations: CIS
WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 31: U.S. Justice Department Executive Office For Immigration Review Director James McHenry testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill July 31, 2018 in Washington, DC. The committee questioned McHenry and other administration officials about the separation of children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border at the government’s efforts to reunify those families. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

James McHenry attended an “Immigration Newsmaker” event hosted by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) in May of 2018.

Elizabeth Jacobs

Position: Senior Advisor to Acting Chief Counsel George Fishman at the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

Start date: February 20, 2018 (via ProPublica)
Associations: FAIR
(Photo via

Prior to joining the Trump administration, Jacobs was a FAIR lobbyist who advocated for ending Temporary Protected Status for Salvadorans, defunding sanctuary cities and reducing refugee admissions. She and the president have both claimed it is “far more costly” to resettle refugees in the US than it is to resettle them “closer to the home country,” despite an HHS draft report’s conclusion that the taxes paid by refugees far exceeded the cost of resettlement.

Laura Thompson for Mother Jones “Meet the Extreme Nativists Guiding Our Immigration Policy” (August 5, 2019)

Richard Grenell

Position: Special Presidential Envoy for Serbia and Kosovo Peace Negotiations

Start date: October 3, 2019 (via White House Press Release)
Associations: Breitbart News
BERLIN, GERMANY – NOVEMBER 08: U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell waits for the arrival of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for talks with German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer at the Federal Defense Ministry on November 08, 2019 in Berlin, Germany. Pompeo is on a two-day visit to Germany ahead of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

In June last year, Grenell gave an interview to Breitbart London and spoke of his eagerness to support right-wing movements in Europe. “There are a lot of conservatives throughout Europe who have contacted me to say they are feeling there is a resurgence going on,” Grenell said. “I absolutely want to empower other conservatives throughout Europe, other leaders.”

[…]In the same Breitbart interview, Grenell also spoke against George Soros, a favorite bogeyman of far-right conspiracy theorists (my link) and Trump’s inner circle. “Look, I think his policies are failed policies,” Grenell said of the billionaire philanthropist, adding: “I think that they’re very geared towards the elites, not for the silent majority.”

Eric Kleefeld for Media Matters “Another former Fox News employee has a cabinet-level position. Here are some things to know about Richard Grenell.” (February 20, 2020)

Grenell has also described Sebastian Kurz—the Chancellor of Austria who built a coalition party with the extremely antisemitic FPÖ in 2017—as a “rockstar.” On December 22 (2020), Grenell was appointed by Trump to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.

He also pushed Trump’s recent conspiracy theory alleging that Joe Biden won the presidential election due to “illegal votes.” When NBC’s Jacob Soboroff questioned Grenell about these assertions directly, he fled in a van.

“Richard Grenell, former President Donald Trump’s ambassador to Germany and a member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, tweeted a meme showing a Nazi Gestapo officer in the Quentin Tarantino film Inglorious Basterds saying, ‘You’re hiding unvaccinated people under your floorboards, aren’t you?’ The original line from the movie uses similar wording in referring to Jews.”

via Ben Sales for Cleveland Jewish News

(via MSNBC)

Steven Menashi

Position: United States Circuit Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Start date: November 14, 2019 (via U.S. Senate Roll Call)
Associations: [N/A]
UNITED STATES – SEPTEMBER 11: Steven J. Menashi, nominee to be a circuit judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, testifies during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Building on Wednesday, September 11, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Steven Menashi, a Stanford-trained lawyer who clerked for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, wrote dozens of editorials and blog posts in the late 1990s and early 2000s for a number of college and professional publications decrying “leftist multiculturalism” and “PC orthodoxy.” He complained about “gynocentrists,” wrote that the Human Rights Campaign “incessantly exploited the slaying of Matthew Shepard for both financial and political benefit” and argued that a Dartmouth fraternity that held a “ghetto party” wasn’t being racist.

He attacked academic multiculturalism as “thoroughly bankrupt” and, in 2002, defended then-Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi amid a worldwide controversy over comments asserting the superiority of Western civilization over Islamic culture — for which Berlusconi himself ultimately apologized.

Andrew Kaczynski and Em Steck for CNN “Trump court pick denounced feminists, gay-rights groups and diversity efforts in 1990s, 2000s editorials CNN Digital Expansion 2018, Andrew KaczynskiAnchor Muted Background” (August 22, 2019)

The most debated aspect of Menashi’s record, just in terms of the amount of heat its generated among opinion journalists and pundits, is a 2010 academic article he wrote titled “Ethnonationalism and Liberal Democracy.”

That article was flagged by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow last month, when she broadcast a lengthy segment claiming that Menashi argued that “democracy can’t work unless the country is defined by a unifying race.”

Ian Millhiser for Vox “The controversy over ‘ethnonationalism’ and a Trump judicial nominee, explained” (November 7, 2019)

Robert Law

Position: Chief for the Office of Policy and Strategy at the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

Start date: February 3, 2020 (via USCIS Website)
Associations: FAIR
Robert Law of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. (Photo via Western States Center)

Before joining the Trump Administration, Robert Law served as government relations director at the anti-immigrant group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) where he set the policy agenda for the organization and advocated for harsh immigration policies such as ending DACA and eliminating Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

Law co-authored FAIR’s major policy report: Immigration Priorities for the 2017 Presidential Transition, in which he proposed indefinite family detention, the repeal of DACA, and an elimination of Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Weeks into Law’s job in the Trump Administration, the former FAIR staffer rewrote a recommendation memo on Haiti in an effort to terminate TPS for the country.

The Plot Against Immigrants, Western States Center

Sebastian Gorka

Position: Member of the White House’s National Security Education Board

Start date: July 14, 2020 (via POLITICO)
Associations: Order of Vitéz, Magyar Gárda, Breitbart News
NATIONAL HARBOR, MD – FEBRUARY 24: Deputy assistant to President Trump Sebastian Gorka participates in a discussion during the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center February 24, 2017 in National Harbor, Maryland. Hosted by the American Conservative Union, CPAC is an annual gathering of right wing politicians, commentators and their supporters. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

In a video obtained by the Forward of an August 2007 television appearance by Gorka, the future White House senior aide explicitly affirms his party’s and his support for the black-vested Hungarian Guard (Magyar Gárda) — a group later condemned by the European Court of Human Rights for attempting to promote an “essentially racist” legal order.

Asked directly on the TV interview program if he supports the move by Jobbik, a far-right anti-Semitic party, to establish the militia, Gorka, appearing as a leader of his own newly formed party, replies immediately, “That is so.” The Guard, Gorka explains, is a response to “a big societal need.”

Lili Bayer for the Forward “Exclusive: Controversial Trump Aide Sebastian Gorka Backed Violent Anti-Semitic Militia” (April 3, 2017)
(via Forward)

Kathy Nuebel Kovarik

Position: Chief of Staff of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the Department of Homeland Security

Start date: August 2, 2020 (via ICE Website)
Associations: [N/A]
UNITED STATES – MARCH 27: Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, confers with staffer Kathy Nuebel Kovarik during a Senate Judiciary Committee mark up on immigration reform. (Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images)

In August, in her former role as the policy and strategy chief at USCIS, Kathy Nuebel Kovarik wrote a memo to then-acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan recommending USCIS strip deportation protections to migrants undergoing serious medical treatment in the United States, instead of leaving that decision up to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

In the memo, originally reported by Politico, Nuebel Kovarik wrote that the deferred action policy was “subject to abuse” and was against “the president’s agenda to enforce our existing laws and potentially contrary to his goal of making sure aliens are self-sufficient.” The administration quietly implemented the policy in August, but USCIS eventually reinstated the program after public outcry.

Nuria Marquez Martinez for Mother Jones “The Trump Administration Keeps Promoting Stephen Miller’s Immigration Hardliner Allies” (November 19, 2019)

Anthony Tata

Position: Senior Official Performing the Duties of Under Secretary of Defense for Policy at the U.S. Department of Defense

Start date: November 10, 2020 (via U.S. DoD Press Release)
Associations: [N/A]
WASHINGTON DC – JANUARY 14: Anthony Tata, new COO of the District of Columbia school system, center, talks with Cheryl Wilhoyte, left, Principle, at Brent elementary school in SE DC as Alina Massey and Chum Chancharadeth follow during a tour of the school. (Photo by Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

In May 2018, Tata tweeted at former CIA Director John Brennan, “Might be a good time to pick your poison: firing squad, public hanging, life sentence as prison b*tch, or just suck on your pistol. Your call. #Treason #Sedition #crossfirehurricane #Obamagate”

Andrew Kaczynski, Em Steck, and Nathan McDermott for CNN “Democrats on key Senate committee oppose top Pentagon pick as more inflammatory tweets emerge” (June 15, 2020)

Douglas Macgregor

Position: Senior Advisor to Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller at the U.S. Department of Defense

Start date: (TBA)
Associations: RT (Russia Today)
(Screenshot via Fox News)

new senior adviser at the Pentagon repeatedly said the United States’ support for Israel was the result of “Israeli lobby” money and accused prominent officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, of becoming “very very rich,” from their support for Israel.

Retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor, who was appointed as senior adviser to newly installed acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller this week, made the comments in two media appearances in 2012 and 2019.”You have to look at the people that donate to those individuals,” Macgregor said in a September 2019 interview when asked if then-national security adviser John Bolton and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham wanted war with Iran. “Mr. Bolton has become very, very rich and is in the position he’s in because of his unconditional support for the Israeli lobby. He is their man on the ground, in the White House.”
KFile reviewed additional comments from Macgregor in which he said that US involvement in World War II was a “disaster,” and incorrectly said there was no desire in the US to go to war with Nazi Germany. In 2012, he claimed there was evidence that conflict with Japan was engineered to end the Great Depression.

Andrew Kaczynski and Em Steck for CNN “Pentagon senior adviser accused Pompeo and senior politicians of taking money and getting rich from ‘the Israeli lobby'” (November 13, 2020)

Darren Beattie

(Photo via CNN)

Position: Appointed to the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad

Start date: (November 18, 2020)
Associations: Peter Brimelow, H.L. Mencken Club

A White House speechwriter for President Trump was terminated last week after revelations that he had spoken at a conference attended by well-known white nationalists, according to three people familiar with the decision who were not authorized to speak publicly. Darren Beattie, who was a visiting instructor at Duke University before he joined the White House speechwriting team, was fired Friday after a media inquiry about his appearance at the 2016 H.L. Mencken Club conference (my link), where Beattie spoke on a panel alongside Peter Brimelow.

CNN’s KFile, an investigative unit, published a report Sunday on Beattie and his appearance at the Mencken event, which has been attended in the past by white nationalist Richard Spencer. Spencer is a prominent figure in the “alt-right,” a movement whose adherents are known for espousing racist, sexist and anti-Semitic points of view.

Robert Costa for Washington Post “Trump speechwriter fired amid scrutiny of appearance with white nationalists” (August 19, 2018)
Part of Beattie’s job as a member of this commission entails preserving Holocaust memorial sites.

WASHINGTON — A former speechwriter fired from the White House in 2018 for attending a conference at which white supremacists were also present has been appointed to a commission tasked with preserving Holocaust-related sites across Europe.

The former speechwriter, Darren Beattie, will join the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, according to a press release sent by the White House on Tuesday evening.

Alexander Nazaryan for Yahoo News “Trump appoints speechwriter fired for attending conference with white nationalists to commission that preserves Holocaust memorials” (November 18, 2020)

The organizations at play:

VDAREPeter Brimelow

Founded in 1999 by anti-immigrant activist and author Peter Brimelow, the Center for American Unity has served to promote the work of white supremacists, anti-Semites and others on the radical right. This is most obvious in, which the foundation started in 1999 and funded until 2007. It is named after Virginia Dare, said to be the first English child born in the New World, in 1587. Brimelow says that he once planned to bestow Dare’s name upon “the heroine of a projected fictional concluding chapter in Alien Nation [his best selling anti-immigration book], about the flight of the last white family in Los Angeles.””VDARE”

entry (via SPLC)

Center for Immigration Studies (CIS)John Tanton

While CIS and its position within the Tanton network has been on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) radar for years, what precipitated listing CIS as an anti-immigrant hate group for 2016 was its repeated circulation of white nationalist and antisemitic writers in its weekly newsletter and the commissioning of a policy analyst who had previously been pushed out of the conservative Heritage Foundation for his embrace of racist pseudoscience. These developments, its historical associations, and its record of publishing reports that hype the criminality of immigrants, are why CIS is labeled an anti-immigrant hate group. “Center for Immigration Studies (CIS)”

entry (via SPLC)

Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)John Tanton

FAIR leaders have ties to white supremacist groups and eugenicists and have made many racist statements. Its advertisements have been rejected because of racist content. FAIR’s founder, John Tanton, has expressed his wish that America remain a majority-white population: a goal to be achieved, presumably, by limiting the number of nonwhites who enter the country. One of the group’s main goals is upending the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which ended a decades-long, racist quota system that limited immigration mostly to northern Europeans. FAIR President Dan Stein has called the Act a “mistake.””Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)”

entry (via SPLC)

American RenaissanceJared Taylor

Founded by Jared Taylor in 1990, the New Century Foundation is a self-styled think tank that promotes pseudo-scientific studies and research that purport to show the inferiority of blacks to whites — although in hifalutin language that avoids open racial slurs and attempts to portray itself as serious scholarship. It is best known for its American Renaissance magazine and website, which regularly feature proponents of eugenics and blatant anti-black racists. The foundation also sponsors American Renaissance conferences every other year where racist “intellectuals” rub shoulders with Klansmen, neo-Nazis and other white supremacists.”American Renaissance”

entry (via SPLC)

American Free Press (AFP)Willis Carto

Although at one time he had access to leading politicians, Carto eventually became infamous for his pro-Nazi and rabidly anti-Jewish views and lost those connections. In 1978, he founded the first major American Holocaust-denial outfit, the Institute for Historical Review. Throughout his career, Carto has been known for his anti-Semitism, anti-black racism and the wild alternative health claims regularly made in his various publications.

[…]In 2001, after years of stalling and legal wrangling in an attempt to shield his assets from seizure, Carto was ordered by the courts to relinquish control of Liberty Lobby and The Spotlight and to vacate his long held Liberty Lobby offices in Washington, D.C. Soon after, Carto did shutter The Spotlight (its last edition was July 2, 2001). However, a month later, Carto and former staffers of The Spotlight created yet another newspaper, American Free Press. Today, the Press carries stories on Zionism, secret “New World Order” conspiracies, American Jews and Israel. Mixed in are advertisements for outfits like Pete Peter’s Scriptures for America and Kingdom Identity Ministries — practitioners of Christian Identity, a theology that claims that Jews are the biological descendants of Satan.”Willis Carto”

entry (via SPLC)

Breitbart NewsSteve Bannon

During the 2016 presidential campaign, under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart courted the alt-right — the insurgent, racist right-wing movement that helped sweep Donald Trump to power. The former White House chief strategist famously remarked that he wanted Breitbart to be “the platform for the alt-right.(my link)

[…]In an April 6 email, Allum Bokhari mentioned having had access to an account of Yiannopoulos’s with “a password that began with the word Kristall.” Kristallnacht, an infamous 1938 riot against German Jews carried out by the SA — the paramilitary organization that helped Hitler rise to power — is sometimes considered the beginning of the Holocaust. In a June 2016 email to an assistant, Yiannopoulos shared the password to his email, which began “LongKnives1290.” The Night of the Long Knives was the Nazi purge of the leadership of the SA. The purge famously included Ernst Röhm, the SA’s gay leader. 1290 is the year King Edward I expelled the Jews from England.Joseph Bernstein for Buzzfeed News “Here’s How Breitbart And Milo Smuggled White Nationalism Into The Mainstream” (October 5, 2017)

(“Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos sings ‘America the Beautiful’ in a Dallas karaoke bar as admirers, including the white nationalist Richard Spencer, raise their arms in Nazi salutes.”) Bernstein


H.L. Mencken ClubPaul Gottfried

When it formed six years ago, the founders of the H.L. Mencken Club envisioned a simple forum for the “intellectual right” to be filled with “young thinkers and activists” ready to tackle the tough issues confronting the country. In reality, though, the club was a gathering place for the country’s most prominent white nationalists.

And this weekend, the Club is at it again, gathering to discuss topics ranging from the state of immigration in the United States, to the so-called war on masculinity and the traditional family.

Speakers at this year’s conference, which is being held at “a hotel near Baltimore-Washington International Airport,” according to the website, include John Derbyshire, the white nationalist fired from the National Review for writing a piece for a separate publication suggesting that white and Asian parents should warn their children that black people pose a threat to their safety. He plans to give a speech with the puzzlingly bland title, “Politics and Intelligence.” William Regnery, who founded the racist journal The Occidental Quarterly and co-founded the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist think tank, is scheduled to give a presentation titled “Thrown Off the Bus.”

Ryan Lenz for SPLC “White Nationalist Academics Gather This Weekend for H.L. Mencken Club Annual Meeting” (November 1, 2013)


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