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Beyer seeks details on meeting between Ross and prominent white nationalist, Holocaust denier

Don BeyerRep. Don Beyer today sent an oversight letter to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross seeking details about communications and at least one meeting between Ross and white nationalist and Holocaust denier Charles C. Johnson.

The meeting was first revealed in emails, enclosed in Beyer’s letter and copied below, which were obtained by Democracy Forward via a Freedom of Information Act request.

Beyer wrote:

“I write seeking details on meeting(s) you held last year with Charles C. Johnson. Johnson, a white nationalist,  conspiracy theorist,  fake news purveyor,  and Holocaust denier,  exchanged emails with you requesting two separate meetings in June and October of 2018. … the meeting reportedly took place and you exchanged details about it with him from your personal email account.  I believe you owe the American people and their Representatives an explanation about this meeting, given the position of public trust which you hold.

“Johnson addressed requests to both your personal and official email accounts for meetings which Commerce Department staff seemed to regard as having a bearing on official business. …Conducting official business of this kind via personal email would be inappropriate and potentially illegal, as you are doubtless aware.

“Given the lack of clarity around these meetings, I ask that you respond with answers to the following questions:

1. How many times have you met with Charles C. Johnson, whether in your official capacity as Secretary of Commerce, or informally, since you became Secretary?

2. Where have these meetings taken place, and when?

3. Who participated in the June 25, 2018 meeting between Charles C. Johnson and yourself? What topics did you discuss, and what subsequent dialogue or policy changes resulted from the meeting(s)?

4. Please provide any emails sent from your personal account related to official business which you exchanged with Charles C. Johnson.

5. What came of Charles C. Johnson’s October 2018 request to discuss a “national security matter” with you? Why did he direct such a request to the Commerce Department?

Rep. Beyer is the sponsor in the House of the bipartisan NO HATE Act, legislation to strengthen the response by local, state, and federal law enforcement to the rising incidence of hate crimes.