A speechwriter and policy aide has left the White House after CNN’s KFile uncovered that he had spoken at a conference mostly attended by white nationalists. Darren Beattie appeared on a panel with well-known white nationalist Peter Brimelow, the founder of of the anti-immigration website Vdare, at the 2016 H.L. Mencken Club Conference, a small annual gathering popular with white nationalists like Richard Spencer and others on the alt-right. (The conference’s namesake, Mencken, was a satirist and journalist whose posthumously published diaries also revealed him to be an anti-semite and racist.)
When CNN asked the White House to comment on Beattie’s involvement in the conference, they dragged their feet and asked them to hold the story. A few days later, Beattie no longer worked in the Trump administration. According to the Washington Post, Beattie insisted he was not a racist and refused calls to resign when confronted with the CNN story. Once White House officials realized he would not quit, per the Post’s sources, they fired him out of concern his continued presence would generate negative headlines. It is not yet known if Trump or White House chief of staff John Kelly were involved in the decision.
No one has reported that Beattie himself is a white nationalist or holds racist views, only that he spoke at a conference that was mostly attended by white nationalists. Forward also noted on Sunday that:
Beattie’s PhD thesis, which according to his Mencken Club bio was largely completed in Germany, was about the German philosopher Martin Heidegger, who was a member of the Nazi Party. Beattie wrote in his thesis that Heidegger’s Nazi affiliation was “highly troublesome” but argued that studying his philosophy was still worthwhile.
The Post points out on Twitter that Beattie was no low-level staffer, but a well-paid academic working under chief White House speechwriter Vince Haley, and that he also occasionally worked with Stephen Miller. Miller, of course, has been the architect of some of Trump’s most controversial policies, like the separation of immigrant children from their parents at the southern U.S. border, and the Islamaphobic travel ban — which Beattie once wrote an editorial defending while he was a visiting instructor at Duke University. (Beattie, who has a doctorate from Duke, was one of a small number of U.S. academics to openly support Trump, and one of the very few who then ended up working in the White House.)
Beattie told CNN he “said nothing objectionable” at the conference when he delivered a speech called The Intelligentsia and the Right, and that he still stands by his remarks “completely.”
“It was the honor of my life to serve in the Trump administration,” he added. “I love President Trump, who is a fearless American hero, and continue to support him one hundred percent.”
Beattie might end up with a soft landing spot, as many other staffers forced to leave the White House have. Politico reported on Sunday that exiting the White House amid a scandal is not necessarily a career killer — at least at first — thanks to a small network of Trump loyalist organizations that take care of their own. The organizations, sometimes on the recommendation of Trump’s inner circle, often award plum jobs to former White House staffers who need work — or need a financial incentive to keep their mouth shut.