Trump provides former speechwriter with controversial new post

A Trump speechwriter was fired for speaking at a conference with white nationalists. Trump appointed him to a commission that preserves Holocaust sites.
Image: Donald Trump
An exterior view of the White House on Oct. 5, 2020.J. Scott Applewhite / AP

In August 2018, CNN discovered that a White House speechwriter, Darren Beattie, spoke at a conference alongside well-known white nationalists. He was asked to resign, but refused. The White House fired Beattie soon after.

It's against this backdrop that Donald Trump announced this week that he has a new role for Beattie: the president appointed his former speechwriter to serve as a member of the Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad -- a commission that helps preserve sites related to the Holocaust.

As the New York Times reported, the news was not well received in some circles.

Mr. Beattie's appointment was denounced by the Anti-Defamation League. "It is absolutely outrageous that someone who has consorted with racists would even be considered for a position on a commission devoted to preserving Holocaust memorials in Europe," said the group's chief executive, Jonathan Greenblatt. "We urge the administration to rescind his appointment immediately."

Asked for comment, Mr. Beattie said of the Anti-Defamation League, "The ADL pretends to be an organization that protects Jews, but it really exists to protect Democrats. As a Jewish Trump supporter, I consider it an honor to be attacked by the far-left ADL and its disgraced leader, Jonathan Greenblatt."

On Twitter, Beattie appeared to go quite a bit further, arguing, "The Anti-Defamation league is an anti-white, anti-semitic and anti-American organization." (The unverified account is purportedly Beattie's, though there is no blue check mark, so I can't say for certain that it's him.)

A separate tweet added, "The ADL is truly the enemy of the people."

It's probably worth noting for context that this has been a difficult area for the outgoing president for quite a while. As president, Trump and his team have managed to screw up recognition of International Holocaust Remembrance Day; he invited right-wing Christian pastors with a history of controversial rhetoric toward Jews to the opening of a new embassy in Israel; he praised the "very fine people" among the bigots in Charlottesville; and he used language about anti-Semitism that the Anti-Defamation League described as "mind-boggling."

And did I mention Vice President Mike Pence's appearance with a "Messianic rabbi"?

In March 2019, at a Mar-a-Lago speech to RNC donors, Trump reportedly said, "The Democrats hate Jewish people." It was ridiculous at the time, and it seems just a little worse now.