President Donald Trump's top economic adviser is in hot water for inviting a man who, by his own admission, has published "white nationalist" articles, into his home for a party this past weekend.
Larry Kudlow, the Director of the National Economic Council under Trump since earlier this year, held a birthday party on Saturday and invited his longtime friend Peter Brimelow, according to The Washington Post. Although Brimelow himself rejects being classified as a "white nationalist," he acknowledged to the Harvard Crimson that his anti-immigration website Vdare.com is definitely a haven for white nationalists. During the interview, Brimelow acknowledged that his site "certainly publish[ed] a few writers I would regard as ‘white nationalist’ in that they stand up for whites just as Zionists, black nationalists do for Jews, blacks, etc."
In response to these accusations, Kudlow admitted that Brimelow had been at his birthday party but argued that they were just good friends and expressed dismay when the Post confronted him with white nationalist writings Brimelow willingly published.
"If I had known this, we would never have invited him. I’m disappointed and saddened to hear about it," Kudlow told the Post.
He added that the alleged racism was "a side of Peter that I don’t know, and I totally, utterly disagree with that point of view and have my whole life. I’m a civil rights Republican." According to Kudlow, Brimelow has been "coming to my dinner parties for years" and that during that time "none of this other stuff has ever come up."
For his part, Brimelow confirmed that he and Kudlow were lifelong friends but seemed to contradict the Trump aide's assertion that he was surprised to learn of Brimelow's views.
"I’ve known Larry for nearly 40 years. I regard him as a personal friend. They knew my first wife, who died, and were most kind to Lydia when I remarried. We agreed to disagree on immigration long ago," Brimelow told the Post. He later tweeted, "Apparently we’re not supposed to have personal friends anymore. Who knew."
Kudlow isn't the only Trump White House official to face controversy over his association with Brimelow. White House speechwriter Darren Beattie lost his job last Friday after it was revealed that he had spoken on a public panel that included Brimelow. The event at which Beattie and Brimelow both appeared, the 2016 H. L. Mencken conference, had also once been attended by infamous white nationalist Richard Spencer, who, like Brimelow, has seized on Trump's presidency to promote his own far right-wing agenda.
"In 2016 I attended the Mencken conference in question and delivered a stand-alone, academic talk titled ‘The Intelligentsia and the Right.’ I said nothing objectionable and stand by my remarks completely. 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," Beattie told the Post.
Although Beattie was initially asked by the Trump administration to step down as a result of his ties to a "racial nationalist," he refused and insisted that he wasn't a racist and that his speech at the H. L. Mencken conference had been uncontroversial. It was at this point that Beattie was fired from his job.
Another prominent Trump aide with alleged ties to white nationalists is domestic policy adviser and speechwriter Stephen Miller. Back when Miller was a college student at Duke University, he is believed to have interacted with Spencer, a relationship described in more detail by Vanity Fair in May:
When, during the presidential campaign, the relationship between Spencer and Miller from their days together at Duke became public, Miller quickly disavowed knowing Spencer. “I have absolutely no relationship with Mr. Spencer,” Miller e-mailed Mother Jones last October. “I completely repudiate his views, and his claims are 100 percent false.”
Spencer says he was surprised by Miller’s renunciation of him. He could have spoken publicly about knowing Miller at Duke, he says, but chose not to because he did not want to “harm Stephen.” But, he adds, “the fact is I did know him, now 10 years previously, so I could’ve talked about this in 2015, I could’ve talked about this all through 2016, but I didn’t . . . . Stephen looked a little strange, kind of doing this outright denial. What he should’ve said is ‘Oh, yeah. I knew Richard Spencer 10 years ago. Who cares?’ ”
If nothing else, these reports make it clear that the relationship between the mainstream conservative movement and white nationalists has become significantly blurred in the Trump era.