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Don’t Think Twice, It’s “Alt-right”: Nazi Fellow Traveler Chuck Johnson Helping Trump Transition Team

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The group Charles "Chuck" Johnson networked with in Washingon D.C.

The group Charles “Chuck” John­son net­worked with in Washin­gon D.C.

Charles "Chuck" Johnson

Charles “Chuck” John­son

COMMENT: Noto­ri­ous troll, blog­ger and Naz­i/white-suprema­cist fel­low trav­el­er Charles “Chuck” John­son has sub­stan­tive input in Trump’s cab­i­net selec­tions. Worth not­ing is the fact that John­son may be oper­at­ing in tan­dem with Peter Thiel, whose data­base named the “Plum List” bears a strik­ing sim­i­lar­i­ty to a web­site “ThePlumlist.com,” appar­ent­ly being used by John­son to help staff Trump’s admin­is­tra­tion.

“ . . . . Despite his dis­re­gard for facts and reck­less approach to pub­lish­ing, John­son, who was recent­ly pho­tographed at a din­ner attend­ed by white suprema­cists in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., built a sig­nif­i­cant fol­low­ing among many who self-iden­ti­fied as being a part of the ‘alt-right.’ Trump drew sig­nif­i­cant sup­port from those same fol­low­ers dur­ing the elec­tion. . . . .”

John­son is now appar­ent­ly secret­ly help­ing the Trump team staff the Exec­u­tive Branch despite being an open white suprema­cist neo-Nazi troll. Or per­haps because of that. Either way, if this report is accu­rate he’s not just pass­ing along a few sug­ges­tions to Peter Thiel. He helped cre­ate a data­base of poten­tial appointees:

” . . . . John­son also helped cre­ate a data­base where poten­tial polit­i­cal appointees could send in their resumes to be con­sid­ered for gov­ern­ment posi­tions. He has access to the web­site ThePlumlist.com, and though the recent­ly cre­at­ed web­site remains dor­mant, can­di­dates have been told to send their infor­ma­tion to an email account asso­ci­at­ed with that domain. In Novem­ber, The Dai­ly Mail report­ed that Thiel main­tains a data­base called the “Plum List” to track poten­tial hires and qual­i­fied appli­cants. Sources famil­iar with the sit­u­a­tion described the list as an intake sys­tem for the team, and said it was sep­a­rate from the ver­sion that Thiel and his clos­est asso­ciates use to track final selec­tions that are for­ward­ed to Trump. . . .” 

While Charles C. John­son may not tech­ni­cal­ly be the Helene von Damm of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion (the Direc­tor of Pres­i­den­tial Per­son­nel is John DeSte­fano), he may well be play­ing a sim­i­lar role.

In that con­text, we note that John DeStanfo was only named the Direc­tor of Pres­i­den­tial Per­son­nel about a week ago, sug­gest­ing that the Trump team has prob­a­bly been a lot more depen­dent on the rec­om­men­da­tions of folks like Thiel and John­son for the first cou­ple months of the tran­si­tion peri­od than they want to admit.

Those won­der­ing if Trump was going to be fill­ing his admin­is­tra­tion with “Alt-Right” neo-Nazis, the answer appears to be that he already is, and those neo-Nazis are help­ing him pick the rest of his staff.

Recall that Thiel also bankrolled Ron Paul’s Super Pac in the 2012 elec­tion. Paul moves in white suprema­cist cir­cles as well.

“A Troll Out­side Trump Tow­er Is Help­ing To Pick Your Next Gov­ern­ment” by Ryan Mac and Matt Drange; Forbes; 1/9/2017.

An inter­net troll, who was once called “the most hat­ed man on the inter­net” and is banned from Twit­ter, is rec­om­mend­ing can­di­dates to serve in the Trump admin­is­tra­tion.

Charles “Chuck” John­son, a con­tro­ver­sial blog­ger and con­ser­v­a­tive online per­son­al­i­ty, has been push­ing for var­i­ous polit­i­cal appointees to serve under Don­ald Trump, accord­ing to mul­ti­ple sources close to the President-elect’s tran­si­tion team. While John­son does not have a for­mal posi­tion, FORBES has learned that he is work­ing behind the scenes with mem­bers of the tran­si­tion team’s exec­u­tive com­mit­tee, includ­ing bil­lion­aire Trump donor Peter Thiel, to rec­om­mend, vet and give some­thing of a seal of approval to poten­tial nom­i­nees from the so-called “alt-right.”

The prox­im­i­ty to pow­er is some­thing new for John­son, a self-described “jour­nal­ist, author and debunker of frauds,” who has made a name for him­self by ped­dling false infor­ma­tion and right-wing con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries online. In the months lead­ing up to the elec­tion, John­son, 28, used social media and his web­site GotNews.com to stump for the Pres­i­dent-elect while also pub­lish­ing mis­in­for­ma­tion on Trump’s detrac­tors. Now, John­son is help­ing to pick some of the lead­ers who may run the coun­try for the next four years.

FORBES ver­i­fied Johnson’s involve­ment with mul­ti­ple peo­ple close to the tran­si­tion team who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty because they were not autho­rized to dis­cuss the mat­ter pub­licly. When asked about his work with the tran­si­tion team, John­son said last month that he had “no for­mal role,” and was vague regard­ing his lev­el of influ­ence. John­son agreed to mul­ti­ple phone and email inter­views with FORBES in Decem­ber, but he declined to return repeat­ed fol­low-up requests for com­ment this month.

“Whether I am lis­tened to or not remains to be seen,” John­son wrote in an email to FORBES in Decem­ber. “I am by and large pret­ty hap­py with the gov­ern­ment select­ed thus far, though I am sor­ry to say that a lot of the can­di­dates that I favor have not been select­ed.”

Johnson’s state­ments came before his appear­ance on an online radio show with lib­er­tar­i­an blog­ger Ste­fan Molyneux on Dec. 22 dur­ing which John­son declared that he had been “doing a lot of vet­ting for the admin­is­tra­tion and the Trump tran­si­tion.”

The dis­clo­sure of Johnson’s involve­ment comes at a time of intense scruti­ny for Trump’s tran­si­tion team, whose cab­i­net picks will begin Sen­ate con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings this week. Those hear­ings are mov­ing for­ward despite the fact that, as of this week­end, the Office of Gov­ern­ment Ethics had not com­plet­ed its review of mul­ti­ple appointees. It is unprece­dent­ed for the Sen­ate to hold con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings for a President-elect’s nom­i­nees before for­mal back­ground checks are com­plet­ed.

Trump spokes­woman Hope Hicks did not return a request for com­ment. Jere­mi­ah Hall, a spokesman for Thiel, declined to com­ment.

While Twit­ter banned John­son in May 2015 after threat­en­ing a Black Lives Mat­ters activist, he made a name for him­self as an inter­net troll, or an online per­son­al­i­ty who antag­o­nizes oth­ers by post­ing inflam­ma­to­ry or mis­lead­ing infor­ma­tion. Among his exploits, John­son has pub­lished the home address­es of New York Times reporters, wrong­ly iden­ti­fied a woman he thought was the source of Rolling Stone’s now-retract­ed sto­ry of an alleged rape at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Vir­ginia and claimed that Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma is gay.

“On Twit­ter, like, I have a cer­tain kind of per­son­al­i­ty, a pugna­cious­ness, like an alter ego,” he said in 2014 to Moth­er Jones. “You know, like when Spi­der-Man puts on the cos­tume, for instance, he’s no longer a mild-man­nered pho­tog­ra­ph­er. He has an atti­tude. I do that because I want my con­tent to real­ly go viral.”

John­son por­trays Got­News as an alter­na­tive to the “lying main­stream media.” He said it receives 2.5 mil­lion page views per month. (Quant­cast esti­mat­ed in the last 30 days that about 246,000 peo­ple have vis­it­ed the site.) Recent sto­ries include a piece on Sen­a­tor Ted Cruz’s sup­pos­ed­ly immi­nent Supreme Court nom­i­na­tion and anoth­er on Trump’s “biggest regret” in sup­port­ing John McCain’s 2016 Sen­ate re-elec­tion run.

Despite his dis­re­gard for facts and reck­less approach to pub­lish­ing, John­son, who was recent­ly pho­tographed at a din­ner attend­ed by white suprema­cists in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., built a sig­nif­i­cant fol­low­ing among many who self-iden­ti­fied as being a part of the “alt-right.” Trump drew sig­nif­i­cant sup­port from those same fol­low­ers dur­ing the elec­tion.

Mike Cer­novich, anoth­er pro-Trump troll who is friends with John­son, said that John­son often has a hand in behind-the-scenes pol­i­tics. “The media real­ly likes to hate on [John­son],” Cer­novich said. “But if they knew how influ­en­tial he has been–in ways they didn’t know–it would be kind of mind blow­ing.”

John­son, who bold­ly pre­dict­ed against con­ven­tion­al wis­dom and polls that Trump would win, and who was spot­ted in the VIP sec­tion at Trump’s elec­tion night par­ty, began work­ing with the tran­si­tion team short­ly after Nov. 8. Among his con­tacts with­in Manhattan’s Trump Tow­er, where the Pres­i­dent-elect has set up camp, is Thiel, a mem­ber of the transition’s exec­u­tive com­mit­tee. A Pay­Pal cofounder and Face­book board mem­ber whose vast net­work of Sil­i­con Val­ley con­nec­tions has made him invalu­able to the Pres­i­dent-elect, Thiel has over­seen many of the sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy appoint­ments for the incom­ing admin­is­tra­tion.

John­son has helped in that effort, push­ing for at least a dozen poten­tial can­di­dates to Thiel, includ­ing Ajit Pai, a com­mis­sion­er at the Fed­er­al Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion, whom John­son hopes will lead the orga­ni­za­tion under Trump. Pai declined to com­ment for this sto­ry. As a Repub­li­can mem­ber of the FCC, Pai is a nat­ur­al can­di­date to be con­sid­ered for the chair­man­ship of the agency, and Johnson’s rec­om­men­da­tion sug­gests he’s also favored by a seg­ment of the self-described “alt-right.”

Beyond rec­om­mend­ing can­di­dates, John­son has also helped set up meet­ings between poten­tial appointees and tran­si­tion team mem­bers. He has worked with Jim O’Neill, who is being con­sid­ered to head the Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion and is cur­rent­ly employed by Thiel at San Fran­cis­co-based invest­ment firm Mithril Cap­i­tal. John­son has tried to arrange for O’Neill to meet with con­ser­v­a­tive influ­encers and polit­i­cal groups in an effort to build sup­port for his poten­tial FDA nom­i­na­tion. O’Neill declined to com­ment.

John­son also helped cre­ate a data­base where poten­tial polit­i­cal appointees could send in their resumes to be con­sid­ered for gov­ern­ment posi­tions. He has access to the web­site ThePlumlist.com, and though the recent­ly cre­at­ed web­site remains dor­mant, can­di­dates have been told to send their infor­ma­tion to an email account asso­ci­at­ed with that domain. In Novem­ber, The Dai­ly Mail report­ed that Thiel main­tains a data­base called the “Plum List” to track poten­tial hires and qual­i­fied appli­cants. Sources famil­iar with the sit­u­a­tion described the list as an intake sys­tem for the team, and said it was sep­a­rate from the ver­sion that Thiel and his clos­est asso­ciates use to track final selec­tions that are for­ward­ed to Trump.

John­son denied work­ing with Thiel, and said the two had “only a pass­ing famil­iar­i­ty.” John­son added that he and Thiel “share some of the same ene­mies,” a ref­er­ence to the now defunct news orga­ni­za­tion, Gawk­er Media. Thiel secret­ly bankrolled for­mer pro­fes­sion­al wrestler Hulk Hogan’s land­mark inva­sion of pri­va­cy law­suit against the New York media orga­ni­za­tion, which ulti­mate­ly led to the company’s bank­rupt­cy. Sep­a­rate­ly, John­son sued Gawk­er in a Cal­i­for­nia court for defama­tion after the web­site pub­lished a series of crit­i­cal and abra­sive sto­ries about him.

FORBES pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed that John­son, while explor­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tion for his case, had a phone dis­cus­sion with lawyers at Hard­er Mirell & Abrams, the law firm that Thiel paid to rep­re­sent Hogan, and that Johnson’s case had been pitched to oth­er Los Ange­les law firms as part of a wider legal strat­e­gy against Gawk­er. Johnson’s law­suit remains on hold, pend­ing a hear­ing lat­er this month in fed­er­al bank­rupt­cy court to deter­mine the fate of Gawk­er Media’s remain­ing assets.

If Gawk­er is John­son and Thiel’s shared ene­my, then Trump advi­sor and chief strate­gist Stephen Ban­non is their most promi­nent mutu­al ally. John­son worked for Ban­non at Bre­it­bart News, where Ban­non served as exec­u­tive chair­man before join­ing Trump’s cam­paign last year. “I liked [Ban­non], and was close to him,” John­son said in a Decem­ber phone inter­view.

Last fall, John­son and Ban­non led an effort pri­or to the sec­ond pres­i­den­tial debate in Octo­ber to stage a press con­fer­ence with Trump and four women who have accused Bill Clin­ton of rape, sex­u­al assault or sex­u­al harass­ment and Hillary Clin­ton of pro­tect­ing an alleged sex­u­al crim­i­nal. John­son claimed to have helped raise more than $10,000 for one of those women, Kath­leen Shelton–who alleged that she was raped in 1975 by a man who Hillary Clin­ton lat­er rep­re­sent­ed as a pub­lic defender–to attend the event.

While John­son denied his recent work with Thiel, he freely dis­cussed his efforts to influ­ence the tran­si­tion team through his old boss, Ban­non. Still, John­son insist­ed that while Ban­non takes his opin­ion into con­sid­er­a­tion, his rec­om­men­da­tions are some­times ignored. “Imag­ine you had an ex-boss who became the con­sigliere to the Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States,” John­son told FORBES last month. “You can’t be like, ‘Dude, you’re f***ing up.’”

Alexan­dra Preate, a spokesper­son for Ban­non, did not respond to mul­ti­ple requests for com­ment.

The full extent of Johnson’s involve­ment in the tran­si­tion is not clear, though sev­er­al of his asso­ciates have also inter­faced with the team in recent weeks. FORBES has learned that Cer­novich and Jeff Giesea, a Wash­ing­ton, D.C.-based entre­pre­neur who worked for Thiel in the past, have also been in con­tact with tran­si­tion team mem­bers, accord­ing to sources. Giesea declined to com­ment, while Cer­novich dis­cussed the tran­si­tion team’s agen­da but remained vague when pressed for details of his own work.

“I want to be free to say what­ev­er I want to say. And in a way that lim­its what I can do offi­cial­ly,” Cer­novich said, deny­ing that he has had any direct com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Thiel or oth­er mem­bers of the tran­si­tion team. “I don’t want any­one to get jammed up, vis-à-vis any asso­ci­a­tion with me.”

Cer­novich and Giesea have also orga­nized a par­ty for Trump sup­port­ers in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. lat­er this month dubbed the “Deplora­Ball.” Cer­novich said that 1,000 tick­ets have been sold for the event, which is billed as “the biggest meme ever” and will take place at the Nation­al Press Club on the eve of Trump’s inau­gu­ra­tion. John­son said the event was about giv­ing voice to a group of peo­ple who, until Trump’s land­mark vic­to­ry in Novem­ber, were often ignored by the polit­i­cal estab­lish­ment. When asked if he felt that he had got­ten cred­it for his recent work, John­son said, “Not as much as I deserve.”

John­son attrib­uted much of the work that he and oth­ers have done in sup­port of Trump to being able to tap into vot­ers’ emo­tions through memes, such as the Pepe the Frog car­toon that became an infor­mal mas­cot for Trump sup­port­ers. John­son said that memes rep­re­sent a new way for peo­ple to dis­cuss nation­al pol­i­tics, which he said is dom­i­nat­ed by a “white paper” mind­set pred­i­cat­ed on debat­ing pol­i­cy mer­its based on fact rather than emo­tion. To hear John­son tell it, the suc­cess of this approach is evi­denced by the vis­cer­al reac­tion to memes that gen­er­at­ed wide­spread atten­tion and influ­enced pub­lic per­cep­tion dur­ing Trump’s rise to pow­er, despite hav­ing lit­tle or no basis in fact.

 

Discussion

One comment for “Don’t Think Twice, It’s “Alt-right”: Nazi Fellow Traveler Chuck Johnson Helping Trump Transition Team”

  1. This next arti­cle has some very inter­est­ing infor­ma­tion about Chuck John­son. Rep. Andy Har­ris (R‑MD) con­firmed to TPM Wednes­day that he’d had “a dis­cus­sion” with Holo­caust denier and right-wing troll Chuck C. John­son. He issued a state­ment which said he “had a dis­cus­sion involv­ing his busi­ness with genet­ic sequenc­ing,” This ref­er­ence is inter­est­ing and I have to won­der if it includes themes such as racial supe­ri­or­i­ty. John­son raised mon­ey for white suprema­cist Richard Spencer’s legal defense fund.

    The arti­cle also reveals that John­son “attend­ed a meet­ing in the Ecuado­ri­an embassy in Lon­don with Rep. Dana Rohrabach­er (R‑CA) and Wik­ileaks founder Julian Assange. He sub­se­quent­ly met with Sen. Rand Paul (R‑KY) who I sus­pect that along with his father appears to sup­port Nazi caus­es.

    An Octo­ber 2017 Dai­ley Caller arti­cle list­ed below shows that Repub­li­can Cal­i­for­nia Rep. Dana Rohrabach­er met with Repub­li­can Ken­tucky Sen. Rand Paul last Thurs­day and dis­cussed lever­ag­ing Paul’s close rela­tion­ship with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to let the pres­i­dent know that Wik­iLeaks founder Julian Assange is will­ing to divulge infor­ma­tion about the source of leaked emails. The ques­tion one has to ask is why would a Con­gress­man and Sen­a­tor con­tact Julian Assange who has released US clas­si­fied doc­u­ments to the pub­lic. Is this not trea­so­nous behav­ior by those elect­ed offi­cials or are they part of a very com­plex plot to serve fas­cist inter­ests?

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/andy-harris-unware-chuck-johnson-holocaust-denier-previous-associations

    GOP Rep. Says He Was ‘Unaware’ Of Holo­caust Denier Chuck Johnson’s ‘Pre­vi­ous Asso­ci­a­tions’
    Matt Shuham

    Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call Group
    Jan­u­ary 16, 2019 7:00 pm

    Rep. Andy Har­ris (R‑MD) con­firmed to TPM Wednes­day that he’d had “a dis­cus­sion” with Holo­caust denier and right-wing troll Chuck C. John­son.

    In a state­ment Har­ris’ press sec­re­tary shared with TPM Wednes­day evening, the con­gress­man said he was “unaware of his pre­vi­ous asso­ci­a­tions.”

    “I am unaware of his pre­vi­ous asso­ci­a­tions, but we had a dis­cus­sion involv­ing his busi­ness with genet­ic sequenc­ing,” the state­ment read. “Of course I dis­avow and con­demn white suprema­cy and anti-semi­tism.”

    HuffPost’s Matt Fuller post­ed a pic­ture of Har­ris and John­son, along­side some­one who appeared to be Rep. Phil Roe (R‑TN), on Wednes­day:

    John­son, whose web­site once raised mon­ey for white suprema­cist Richard Spencer’s legal defense fund, has ties to oth­er mem­bers of Con­gress, as well.

    Last year, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R‑FL) was crit­i­cized for giv­ing John­son a tick­et to the State of the Union address. (Gaetz told the Dai­ly Beast that John­son just “showed up at my office,” and that he had no pri­or rela­tion­ship with him.)

    And, the year pri­or, John­son attend­ed a meet­ing in the Ecuado­ri­an embassy in Lon­don with Rep. Dana Rohrabach­er (R‑CA) and Wik­ileaks founder Julian Assange. Soon after, Rohrabach­er brought John­son to a meet­ing with Sen. Rand Paul (R‑KY).

    “I do not and nev­er have believed the six mil­lion fig­ure,” John­son wrote in a 2017 Red­dit AMA (“Ask Me Any­thing”), first flagged by Lit­tle Green Foot­balls, refer­ring to Jews who were killed in the Holo­caust.

    John­son lat­er claimed “I am not, nor have I ever been a Holo­caust denier,” and said the com­ments were, in Moth­er Jones’ words, “part of a secret trolling exper­i­ment he was run­ning.”

    Linked Arti­cle:
    https://dailycaller.com/2017/10/10/rohrabacher-rand-paul-met-to-discuss-assange-giving-up-wikileaks-source-to-us-government/

    ROHRABACHER, RAND PAUL MET TO DISCUSS ASSANGE GIVING UP WIKILEAKS SOURCE TO US GOVERNMENT
    2:10 PM 10/10/2017 | POLITICS
    Alex Pfeif­fer | White House Cor­re­spon­dent
    Repub­li­can Cal­i­for­nia Rep. Dana Rohrabach­er met with Repub­li­can Ken­tucky Sen. Rand Paul last Thurs­day and dis­cussed lever­ag­ing Paul’s close rela­tion­ship with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to let the pres­i­dent know that Wik­iLeaks founder Julian Assange is will­ing to divulge infor­ma­tion about the source of leaked emails.

    Rep. Rohrabach­er told The Dai­ly Caller about the meet­ing dur­ing a phone inter­view Tues­day.
    “Rand Paul says the pres­i­dent calls him every now and then. I want­ed to make sure that when [Trump] calls him that [Paul] knew enough about the Julian Assange offer that I found some­thing of val­ue for the pres­i­dent to look at,” Rohrabach­er told TheDC.

    He added that Paul was “very open to the idea of men­tion­ing it to the pres­i­dent next time the pres­i­dent called him.”

    Sen. Paul’s office declined to com­ment. Rohrabach­er said that Paul was joined by a few of his staffers, and that the Cal­i­for­nia con­gress­man brought along top aide Paul Behrends and con­ser­v­a­tive jour­nal­ist Charles C. John­son.

    Rohrabach­er met with Assange at the Ecuado­ri­an embassy in Lon­don in August in a meet­ing that John­son claimed to have arranged. Assange took asy­lum in the embassy in 2012 after fac­ing sex­u­al assault charges in Swe­den that have since been dropped. The Cal­i­for­nia con­gress­man told TheDC that Assange wants to leave the embassy and would need a deal with the U.S. in order to do so. (RELATED: Rohrabach­er Says Assange Could Be Par­doned For Info About DNC Leak Source)
    The meet­ing with Paul came a week after Rohrabach­er told TheDC that top White House aides are block­ing infor­ma­tion about the Wik­iLeaks founder’s offer to prove that Rus­sia was not behind the hack­ing and leak­ing of Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee emails dur­ing the 2016 elec­tion. The U.S. intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty has alleged that the Krem­lin was, in fact, involved. 

    The Jus­tice Depart­ment is report­ed­ly inves­ti­gat­ing Assange for his role in dis­sem­i­nat­ing thou­sands of clas­si­fied doc­u­ments. Rohrabach­er said that Assange wouldn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly need a par­don from Pres­i­dent Trump in order to give up the source of the emails, just an assur­ance that he won’t be pros­e­cut­ed.

    Update:
    Assange dis­put­ed some of Rohrabacher’s com­ments in a tweet Wednes­day.

    “Dis­grace­ful report­ing. Wik­iLeaks nev­er has and nev­er will reveal a source. Offers have been made to me–not the oth­er way around. I do not speak to the pub­lic through third par­ties,” Assange tweet­ed in response to this arti­cle.

    Rohrabacher’s spokesman Ken Grubbs told TheDC that the con­gress­man stands by all of his remarks.

    Posted by Mary Benton | January 18, 2019, 5:25 pm

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