The Slatest

Trump Administration Using Lame-Duck Period as Government Jobs Program for Longtime Racists

The White House seen illuminated at nightfall from an angle against a dark blue sky with a mostly bare tree in the foreground.
The White House on Wednesday. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Some real auspicious personnel news over here in the waning days of Donald Trump’s presidency!

• Jason Richwine, a writer who floats around right-wing think tanks and websites arguing that Black and Hispanic people are genetically inferior to whites, has been hired as “deputy undersecretary of commerce for standards and technology.” That’s according to reporting by Science Insider, which notes that Richwine is infamous for suggesting that immigrants should be screened with IQ tests. He has no apparent experience that would qualify him for a job involving science and technology—but he did, however, once contribute to a journal founded by Richard Spencer!

• Corey Stewart, who moved to Virginia from Minnesota to run a series of losing political campaigns premised around his fetish for Confederate history, has also been hired by the Department of Commerce as the “principal deputy assistant secretary for export administration.”

• Anthony Tata, a former Army officer and Fox News guest who has written matter-of-factly that Barack Obama is “a Muslim” and who was considered so toxic, even by Republicans, that he couldn’t get confirmed by the Senate for a job at the Pentagon in June, is being given a position where he will temporarily perform “the Duties of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.”

The president is also possibly considering the installation of Ric Grenell as CIA director; Grenell is an administration veteran who, while not as overtly bigoted as the others listed here, began his tenure as ambassador to Germany by announcing that he wanted to form alliances with Trump-style “conservative” parties in Europe, which was an interesting thing to hear for those who care to trace the genealogy of right-wing nationalist movements in Europe back to the 1930s or so. Grenell also considers it his chief job duty, no matter what his title is, to post inflammatory MAGA stuff on social media, and was last seen in Nevada failing to convince the court system there that the Democratic Party committed mass voter fraud.

The best-case scenario here, as Grenell’s high ratio of tweets to accomplishments suggests, is that these figures, and whichever even more obscure swamp racists are filling the positions below them, see the twilight days of the Trump administration as an opportunity to elevate their platforms and get their names in the news while collecting two months of government paychecks. The worst-case scenario is that they try to do their jobs.