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It’s Not Just Trump: The Trump Administration has Dozens of Staffers with Connections to White Nationalists

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Neither Donald Trump’s racism nor his Administration’s ties to white nationalists are new revelations, but the events of this summer are still a shocking reminder of the racism and xenophobia that are foundational to this presidency. From recent campaign events to the white nationalist figures staffing all levels of his Administration, Trump is playing up to his extremist base as much as ever.

In May, during a campaign rally before his official campaign launch, Trump asked a crowd, “how do you stop these people?”, referring to immigrants seeking asylum in the U.S. One of his supporters yelled, “shoot them.” Far from condemning the call for racist violence, Trump laughed and smirked, saying, “only in the Panhandle can you get away with that statement,” to which the crowd laughed and cheered.

In June, Trump officially launched his campaign with an anti-immigrant rant, putting to rest any doubt that his campaign would focus on anything besides racial grievance and anti-immigrant fear-mongering. In July, Donald Trump attacked four Congresswomen of color with racist and xenophobic tweets, telling them that they did not belong in the U.S., and followed up by egging on his rally crowds with racist “send her back” chants

On August 3, in El Paso, Texas, a mass shooter carried out the deadliest terror attack against Latinos in the nation’s history, killing 22 after releasing a racist manifesto that echoed Trump’s rhetoric about a migrant invasion. In the days and weeks before the shooting, Trump had referred to immigrants as an “invasion” or as “killers” more than 500 times, according to reporting from USA Today.

Tragically, the white nationalist terror attack in El Paso was not the first violent incident perpetrated by someone emboldened by Trump’s xenophobia. During the 2018 midterms — which were jam-packed with anti-immigrant ads from Trump and GOP candidates across the country — a Florida man sent pipe bombs to Trump critics, while another white nationalist shooter attacked a synagogue in Philadelphia.

But the problem goes way beyond Trump’s rhetoric; Trump has staffed his Administration with dozens of individuals who are connected to various white nationalist organizations and hate groups. Many of these staffers come from a network of radical anti-immigrant groups that were founded by a white nationalist named John Tanton

Tanton, now deceased, was a Michigan ophthalmologist who began to build a network of anti-immigrant organizations in the 1970s. The three main anti-immigrant organizations he founded are NumbersUSA, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). The Southern Poverty Law Center has listed the latter two as hate groups

Tanton’s racist ideas have been a matter of public record since the 1980s. His early financial backers, the Pioneer Fund, like him believed in eugenics and white racial superiority. And two of Tanton’s friends were prominent white nationalists Jared Taylor and Peter Brimelow, who run the white nationalist websites American Renaissance and VDARE, respectively.

Several Administration staffers listed below also have connections to Brimelow. CIS has also sent out over 1,700 articles to its supporters that originated on Brimelow’s white nationalist website VDare. And as recently as July 2019, CIS was distributing disturbing VDare content.  

Last year, we began a list of people who worked for the Administration and were connected to one more of these white nationalist organizations or hate groups. Here is the updated list: