“I asked, you know, ‘Does it give you pause, or does it inspire any self-reflection, that someone like Nick Fuentes would want you at their conference?”
That’s the question Christopher Mathias, HuffPost’s senior reporter who specializes in covering right-wing extremism in America, had for Thomas Homan, who was a director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) back when Donald Trump was president.
Late last month, the HuffPost reporter had learned that the former senior Trump official was scheduled to speak at the Fuentes-hosted and hyper-racist America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC, or simply the “Nazi conference,” as it’s called by detractors) in Florida. But Homan, who showed up for the event, ended up bailing before his scheduled speech..
When Mathias—who ventured down to the Sunshine State to investigate the latest ongoings of the youthful white-supremacist confab—finally got Homan on the phone, Trump’s former immigration-crackdown chief confirmed that yes, he was a confirmed speaker at the openly and obviously racist event.
It’s just that he backed out last-minute after, according to Homan, serendipitously seeing something online about Fuentes’s kind words for Vladimir Putin and the ongoing, brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine, Mathias told Fever Dreams co-hosts Asawin Suebsaeng and Kelly Weill on this week’s episode of the Daily Beast podcast.
Even then, Mathias says, Homan couldn’t bring himself to unequivocally condemn Fuentes and his Groyper crew, a band of gleefully white-nationalist activists and online trolls who’ve made it their mission (with some high-profile successes) to infiltrate more mainstream Republican politics.
After Mathias asked Trump’s onetime enforcer if this moment provided any cause for self-reflection, Homan said something to the effect of: “I don’t know [Fuentes’s] intentions. I’m not a racist, though. I just like secure borders,” Mathias told Fever Dreams.
A few minutes after that conversation, Mathias recounted, Homan called him back to clarify something. Homan wanted to make clear that he definitely was not denouncing Fuentes—despite all the available evidence of his trollish, immigrant-loathing fascism.
“It was not the clarification I was expecting,” Mathias said. “He said, ‘I’m not saying this is a bad group. I’m saying I don’t know.’”
Elsewhere on this week’s episode, Suebsaeng and Weill discuss the wannabe Rambos suggesting absurd military stunts in Ukraine. That includes some of America’s young extremists, who are fundraising to go to Ukraine’s front lines, and Donald Trump, who proposed a bizarre fake-out maneuver ripped straight from a James Bond movie. Was Trump just joking about a military tactic that would set off a world war? Remember that, “during the middle of the Trump presidency, he floated the idea, including in national security meetings, the idea of nuking hurricanes and bombing hurricanes who stopped them from reaching America's shores,” Suebsaeng recalls.
Finally, an update on the right-wing trucker convoy that threatened to shut down D.C.: as of Tuesday, the group had managed a half-hearted lap of the beltway before engine troubles and the city’s notorious traffic ruined their parade. Still, Weill notes, other lackluster right-wing protests have served as dress rehearsals for more significant demonstrations like Jan. 6. “We can mock the chaos and also recognize that the right is throwing everything at the wall right now and just seeing what sticks,” she says.