One of Donald Trump’s foreign policy advisers doubted the extent of the Holocaust and bragged about firing “the Jews” during his tenure as inspector general at the Defense Department, according to allegations surfaced by McClatchyDC on Thursday.
After working for the federal government, Joseph E. Schmitz worked as an executive at Blackwater Worldwide and now works as a private practice attorney in Washington. He was named as an adviser to Trump’s campaign in March.
In a complaint file obtained by McClatchy, senior intelligence official Daniel Meyer wrote of Schmitz, “His summary of his tenure’s achievement reported as ‘…I fired the Jews.’” Meyer, who worked in the Pentagon inspector general’s office, cited another Pentagon official, John Crane, as the source and witness to Schmitz’s alleged remark.
Crane reported Schmitz also made remarks casting doubt on the Holocaust, Meyer wrote in the complaint, which is now before the Merit Systems Protection Board.
“In his final days, he allegedly lectured Mr. Crane on the details of concentration camps and how the ovens were too small to kill 6 million Jews,” Meyer wrote.
In an interview with the site, Schmitz said the allegations are “completely false and defamatory.” He also said while his wife is not practicing, she is “ethnically Jewish.”
“I do not recall ever even hearing of any ‘allegations of anti-Semitism against [me],’ which would be preposterously false and defamatory because, among other reason(s), I am quite proud of the Jewish heritage of my wife of 38 years,” he wrote in an email to McClatchyDC.
Schmitz also accused Crane of being the source for other false allegations against him.
Meyer, who now works as the Obama administration’s top official reviewing how intelligence agencies handle complaints by whistleblowers, said he could not comment on the pending case.
Crane also told McClatchy that he could not comment on his conversation with Schmitz, but said he would speak to the remarks “if, when, I am required to testify under oath in a MSPB hearing.” His attorney, Andrew Bakaj, denied Schmitz’s allegation that Cane made false allegations.
His client “has had no involvement with any of the numerous news accounts challenging the actions or decisions made by Mr. Schmitz when he was Inspector General,” Bakaj said.
The allegations about Schmitz’s rhetoric are also part of a case brought by David Tenenbaum, a Michigan-based Army engineer. In a letter this week to acting Pentagon Inspector General Glenn Fine, Tenenbaum’s lawyer, Mayer Morganroth wrote an “anti-Semitic environment” at the Pentagon “began under a prior Inspector General, Mr. Joseph Schmitz.”
Schmitz left the George W. Bush administration in 2005 to take the Blackwater job, a move that came after Schmitz was reportedly informed he was the focus of a congressional inquiry into whether he blocked two criminal investigations of Bush officials the year before. But at the time, Schmitz insisted to TPM that his resignation was not connected to the allegations.
Schmitz is the son of the late John G. Schmitz, the former ultraconservative congressman from Orange County, California. In 1972, he was drafted by the American Independent Party to run for president against Richard Nixon after Alabama Gov. George Wallace was shot In Maryland. As a sitting congressman, Schmitz refused to comment after he wrote the foreword and endorsed the publication of a book that contained widely-condemned anti-Semitic propaganda and was written by a longtime member of the John Birch society. John G. Schmitz was also a member of the organization, but his membership was revoked for holding views still too far right, even for the very conservative group.
When the senior Schmitz died in 2001, the publication arm of the Institute For Historical Review, which is dedicated to publishing Holocaust denialists, wrote in an obituary that he was “a good friend” of the institute.
Joseph E. Schmitz’s sister is Mary Kay Fualaau, formerly Letourneau, the former teacher who served six years in prison after being convicted of raping her 12-year-old student, whom she later married.