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Trump speechwriter ousted over white nationalist associations

Morning breaks over the White House and the offices of the West Wing (R) in Washington January 20, 2015. (Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Morning breaks over the White House and the offices of the West Wing (R) in Washington January 20, 2015.

For all of Donald Trump's talk about "extreme vetting," quite a few White House officials appear to have been hired without a whole lot of scrutiny. CNN reported over the weekend on one of them: a speechwriter who quietly left the president's team last week.

CNN's KFile reached out to the White House last week about Darren Beattie, a policy aide and speechwriter, who was listed as speaking at the 2016 H.L. Mencken Club Conference.The Mencken Club, which is named for the early 20th century journalist and satirist whose posthumously published diaries revealed racist views, is a small annual conference started in 2008 and regularly attended by well-known white nationalists such as Richard Spencer. The schedule for the 2016 conference listed panels and speeches by white nationalist Peter Brimelow and two writers, John Derbyshire and Robert Weissberg, who were both fired in 2012 from the conservative magazine National Review for espousing racist views.Other speakers from the 2016 conference are regular contributors to the white nationalist website VDare. Jared Taylor, another leading white nationalist, can be heard at the conference in 2016 on Derbyshire's radio show along with Brimelow.

Given these associations, it led to an awkward question for the White House: did Trump World not know or not care that a presidential speechwriter attended a conference alongside notorious and high-profile racists?

According to the latest claims, it was the former. The Washington Post  reports that the speechwriter, Darren Beattie, was confronted by his White House colleagues last week in response to media inquiries. He reportedly claimed that he presented uncontroversial academic information at the conference and resisted pressure to resign. Beattlie, according to the Post, was then fired.

He later told CNN, "It was the honor of my life to serve in the Trump Administration. I love President Trump, who is a fearless American hero, and continue to support him one hundred percent. I have no further comment."

Regular readers may have noticed that I haven't published the ridiculously long list of White House departures in a while, and that's largely intentional. For a while, the number of exiting staffers and officials was extraordinary, not just in volume, but in timing: Trump had only been in office for a few months when the list of departures -- some voluntary, some not -- grew to comical lengths.

The president's tenure, however, has lasted long enough for the exiting aides to start to appear less remarkable.

That said, as Darren Beattie's ouster helps remind us, the revolving door at the White House has never really stopped spinning; it just doesn't get the same amount of attention as it used to.