US & Canada

Trump aide 'fired over ties to white nationalist event'

A still of Darren Beattie from a 2009 video Image copyright YouTube
Image caption Darren J Beattie was one of three speechwriters in the White House

A speechwriter for the Trump administration has been fired following reports that he spoke at a white nationalist conference in 2016.

The White House confirmed to US media on Monday that aide Darren J Beattie, a former visiting instructor at Duke University, had been dismissed.

Mr Beattie had appeared on a panel at the HL Mencken Club conference, which is attended by white supremacists.

He told US media that he said "nothing objectionable" in his speech.

CNN first reported Mr Beattie's 2016 speech at the Mencken Club conference on Sunday.

Mr Beattie told CNN that he did speak at that conference, and that he stood by his remarks "completely".

"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," he said in an email.

"It was the honour of my life to serve in the Trump Administration. I love President Trump, who is a fearless American hero, and continue to support him 100%. I have no further comment."

Mr Beattie had worked under Vince Haley, the president's head of speechwriting.

When the White House learned of CNN's investigation, Mr Beattie was first asked to step down, which he reportedly refused to do.

He reportedly said he made no controversial comments at the conference, according to CNN.

The HL Mencken Club, founded in 2008, describes itself as "a society" for "independent-minded intellectuals and academics of the Right".

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) advocacy group, the Mencken Club "has hosted some of America's most prominent white nationalist ideologues in the past, and serves as a safe space for professors to vent their racist views".

Alt-right leader and white supremacist Richard Spencer has been a speaker at the Mencken Club's conferences in the past.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionAleem Maqbool reports on an alt right event where a speaker said 'Hail Trump' and supporters gave Nazi salutes

Mr Beattie supported Mr Trump during his 2016 campaign and has been an outspoken advocate of the president's immigration policies.

Before joining the Trump administration, he was a visiting professor of political science at Duke University.

He obtained his doctoral degree from Duke as well. His thesis focused on the Nazi Martin Heidegger, whose Nazi-ties he called "highly troublesome" while saying his work still merits academic consideration, according to Forward magazine.

During the 2016 Mencken conference, Mr Beattie was reportedly on a panel with noted English white nationalist Peter Brimelow - the head of the anti-immigrant website VDARE.

The SPLC describes Mr Brimelow's site as "a hub for anti-Semites, nativists and Alt-Right figures".

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