The Slatest

Two Republican Congressmen Met With a Holocaust Denier About DNA “Research”

U.S. Capitol dome
U.S. Capitol building at dusk in Washington in 2018.
Saul Loeb/Getty Images

Earlier this week, the Republican House caucus voted unanimously to condemn Iowa Rep. Steve King over comments that he’d made to the New York Times about how it shouldn’t be considered offensive to be a white supremacist. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who also revoked King’s committee assignments, said the far-right Iowan’s remarks have “no place in America” or in the “party of Lincoln.”

Then, on Wednesday, two representatives from the party of Lincoln met in Congress with a white supremacist to talk about genetics (!):

Chuck Johnson, as the Daily Beast notes, is an infamous alt-right figure who has helped raise money for the publisher of the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer site and written that he doesn’t believe the Auschwitz concentration camp, or gas chambers in general, ever existed. Harris and Roe, who represent districts in Maryland and Tennessee, respectively, said in statements that they’d met with Johnson to discuss DNA sequencing research, an astounding subject to have covered with a supporter of neo-Nazism given that, you know, the Nazis used genetic pseudo-science to justify the worst genocide in human history.

Both Harris and Roe denied being aware of Johnson’s history, a dubious claim given that he is a well-known D.C. figure who other Republicans have recently made headlines for associating with. Both also issued statements asserting that they do not hold any white supremacist or anti-Semitic beliefs.

The upshot of this week, at least, is that the Republican caucus now has an abundance of “we didn’t really mean to come across as pro-Hitler” boilerplate language saved in Google Docs for the next time it happens, which will probably be in two or three days. (Incidentally, whatever Chuck Johnson ends up doing that involves “increasing the number of sequenced genomes for research,” as Roe put it, is probably going to be very bad too.)