Darren Beattie was fired from his position as a speechwriter and policy adviser for President Trump last week after a CNN inquiry revealed his 2016 appearance on a panel at a conference that attracts white nationalists.

Beattie attended the H.L. Mencken Club Conference, an event New York magazine calls “popular with white nationalists like Richard Spencer and others on the alt-right.” The conference is named for the early 20th-century journalist whose racist views were revealed in his posthumously published diaries.

Beattie spoke alongside Peter Brimelow, a British white nationalist who founded VDARE.com, an anti-immigration website.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that tracks extremists, the conference “serves as a safe space for professors to vent their racist views, something they clearly had to keep quiet during their time in academia.” Beattie is a former visiting instructor at Duke University.

As reported by The Washington Post, Brimelow earlier this year “described himself as a believer in ‘racial nationalism’ who sees the future of the United States ‘precipitating out on racial lines.’ ”

CNN said the 2016 conference also featured “two writers, John Derbyshire and Robert Weissberg, who were both fired in 2012 from the conservative magazine National Review for espousing racist views.”

The White House would not confirm when Beattie was fired, though his administration email was no longer working by Saturday, CNN reported. It added that White House officials had asked the network to “hold off on the story for several days last week.”

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley would tell CNN only that “Mr. Beattie no longer works at the White House,” declining to elaborate. The Washington Post reported that when White House officials learned of CNN’s investigation, they urged Beattie to voluntarily step down. “When it became clear that Beattie would not resign, the people familiar with the matter said, the White House terminated him,” the Post reported.

Beattie defended his conference speech, titled “The Intelligentsia and the Right,” telling CNN, “I said nothing objectionable and stand by my remarks completely.”

Beattie has not been accused of being a white nationalist himself; it was his participation in a conference mostly attended by white nationalists that came under fire.

Beattie worked under chief White House speechwriter Vince Haley and occasionally worked with Trump senior policy adviser Stephen Miller. New York magazine pointed out that Miller has shaped some of the Trump administration’s harshest immigration policies, including the anti-Muslim travel ban. Beattie had defended Trump’s original executive order on the travel ban in an editorial he wrote while still at Duke, calling it “perfectly reasonable.”

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