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Commerce secretary won't say why he planned to meet with Holocaust denier

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross refuses to discuss why he was entertaining the idea of meeting with Holocaust denier Chuck Johnson.

By Dan Desai Martin - May 14, 2019
Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross refuses to say why he used private email to correspond with Holocaust denier Chuck Johnson about an unknown national security matter.

The emails, discovered through a Freedom of Information Act request by Democracy Forward, were first reported Tuesday by Yahoo News.

In the email correspondence, Johnson wrote to Ross that it was “great chatting with you the other day,” and then went on to request a meeting about “tech issues.” Ross responded, using an iPhone, telling Johnson that he was busy, but that Johnson should meet with a senior adviser at the Commerce Department.

The exchange raises eyebrows, as Johnson is no normal conservative activist. In 2017, Johnson denied that the Holocaust took place, saying he never believed that six million Jews were murdered by Nazis during World War II and agreed with others “about Auschwitz and the gas chambers not being real.”

He has argued that black people are dumber than white people, flashed white power signs with notorious white supremacist Richard Spencer, and was banned from Twitter for threatening Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson.

Despite his anti-Semitic and racist history, Johnson is still enthusiastically embraced by Republicans. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) invited Johnson to be his honored guest at one ofTrump’s State of the Union addresses. Gaetz and former Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) attended a fundraiser with Johnson on a yacht off the California coast. And Johnson has chatted with Ross and met with at least one other of Trump’s cabinet secretaries, former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

When asked about the topic of the meeting request with Ross, Johnson told Yahoo that it was “a national security matter.” Yet Yahoo reported that the conversation “had to have been conducted at least in part via an email address affiliated with Ross but not issued by the federal government.”

Trump and Republicans repeatedly attacked 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for using private emails during her tenure as Secretary of State. In addition to Ross, high-level White House aide Ivanka Trump has used private email to conduct official government business.

The Commerce Department refuses to say what national security matter Ross was discussing over private email with a racist Holocaust denier, only saying that the meeting Johnson requested with Ross did not take place.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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