A former immigration analyst for the Department of Homeland Security has been in regular email contact with a group that includes well-known white nationalists like Richard Spencer, and socialized with some of them in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.
Emails obtained by the Atlantic show that the analyst, Ian M. Smith, was privvy to and participated in white nationalist social events that included Spencer as well as Jared Taylor, one of America’s oldest and most prominent white nationalists. While the emails don’t specifically show Spencer and Smith interacting, Smith clearly has an extensive familiarity with Spencer’s projects.
In another email from October 2015, Smith details how he was planning to “talk to people like Matt Parrott.” Parrott was a former spokesperson for the Traditionalist Workers Party (TWP), a prominent white nationalist group which were present at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. In March, however, the TWP were forced to disband after its leader, Matthew Heimbach, was arrested for assaulting Matt Parrott (who is also his father-in-law) after Parrott accused Heimbach of sleeping with his wife.
While Smith was clearly not as involved in the far-right as those with whom he associated, what makes his case disturbing is how established he is in the more traditional conservative class that currently fills out the ranks of the Trump administration. Smith has, for instance, repeatedly written for the National Review about immigration and appeared on Sean Hannity’s radio show to complain about immigration from “Muslim dominated countries.”
Smith is far from the only administration official with questionable ties to white nationalism. Earlier in August, CNN revealed that White House speechwriter and policy aide Darren Beattie had spoken at the 2016 H.L. Mencken Club Conference, an annual retreat regularly attended by white nationalists like Spencer and Taylor. Beattie has since resigned.
That same week, the Washington Post revealed that Trump’s economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, had invited Peter Brimelow, the publisher of white nationalist website VDare, to his home for Kudlow’s birthday party. Kudlow said that he was unaware of Brimelow’s affiliations and was “disappointed and saddened to hear about it.”
Smith reportedly quit the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday after the Atlantic made the department aware aware of the emails.
“The Department of Homeland Security is committed to combating all forms of violent extremism, especially movements that espouse racial supremacy or bigotry,” a DHS spokesperson told the Atlantic. “This type of radical ideology runs counter to the Department’s mission of keeping America safe.”