In another straw-in-the-wind about the ideological and rhetoric leanings of the Trump White House, it appears chief strategist Stephen Bannon is hiring one of his more ferocious protégés at Breitbart News, the site’s immigration reporter Julia Hahn.
Hahn is an interesting example of the kind of people whose careers have prospered by association with the more radical strain of populist conservatism Trump represents. Just a couple of years ago, she was a producer for Laura Ingraham, the talk-show gabber who played a big role in Dave Brat’s upset primary win over then–House Majority Leader (and Speaker-in-waiting) Eric Cantor. Hahn became Brat’s press secretary, and just seven months later left to work for Breitbart. There she became conspicuous for angry takes on the supposed indifference of the GOP Establishment (and particularly new House Speaker Paul Ryan) to current policies that allow Muslim refugees to enter the country. And by “conspicuous,” I mean she managed to draw a personal attack from prominent tea party congressman Raul Labrador after penning an article lashing the House Freedom Caucus for failing to force Ryan to delete refugee resettlement funds in the gigantic omnibus appropriations bill that kept the federal government open toward the end of 2015:
The monthly panel “Conversations with Conservatives” turned from a pleasant pizza party discussion between lawmakers and the press into an awkward standoff Tuesday when Rep. Raul R. Labrador (R-Idaho) refused to answer a question from a Breitbart reporter.
The reporter, Julia Hahn, asked the panel of lawmakers for a show of hands as to who would support a suspension of Muslim immigration into the United States. But before any lawmakers raised their hands, Labrador stepped in.
“I don’t answer questions from you, because you are not a truthful reporter,” he said. “And I will not answer any of your questions.”
Labrador’s explosion at Hahn drew a rebuke from her boss:
“Congressman Labrador has spent too much time in Washington if he thinks its okay to try and intimidate a 24 year-old woman who asked a basic question,” Bannon said. “He called her a liar and tried to humiliate her in a public forum in the Capitol, when in fact HE is the liar! Breitbart News will not back down and we stand by Julia’s reporting 120 percent.”
120 percent is a lot. But Bannon soon showed his solidarity with Hahn by co-writing with her an amazing attack on Paul Ryan which viewed that self-same gigantic appropriations bill strictly from the point of view of how it affected immigration and refugee policy and concluded Ryan was guilty of “a total and complete sell-out of the American people masquerading as an appropriations bill.” In case Breitbart readers were not sufficiently aware of their betrayal, Hahn followed up two days later with a piece again treating the massive appropriations measure as nothing more than a sinister plot to let in more Muslim refugees and expose an unsuspecting country to Sharia law and suggesting that Ryan was opening the floodgates to the wholesale conquest of America by Sharia law and female genital mutilation.
(For what it’s worth, when yours truly wrote a column lightly mocking Hahn’s extraordinary tunnel-vision and floodgates logic, I was treated to a new and very, very lengthy Hahn piece accusing me of being, like Paul Ryan, an apologist for female genital mutiliation.)
Hahn repeatedly returned to the theme of Paul Ryan’s perfidy during the campaign season, culminating in an October 21 article accusing Ryan of not-so-secretly working for Hillary Clinton’s election because of his slavish submission to the interests of big corporations and foreign nationalists. Here’s a sample from that remarkable piece of invective:
Ryan has said that he, too [like Clinton], sees his role as a U.S. lawmaker to be the representative of foreign nationals—and, in particular, foreign citizens of India. In 2013, Ryan said he believes that it’s the job of a U.S. lawmaker to “put yourself in … [the] shoes” of foreign citizens such as “the gentleman from India who’s waiting for his green card.”
So you have to wonder what kind of message Hahn’s hiring might send with respect to the rather delicate and extremely important relationship between the 45th president of the United States and the Speaker of the House. Keep in mind that Ryan’s budget handiwork over the years (which, pace Hahn, touches on a few thousand issues other than immigration policy) is the foundation for everything congressional Republicans want to accomplish over the next few years. It seems likely that last shots have not been fired in the Bannon vs. Ryan feud.