Matt Gaetz says Charles Johnson, banned from Twitter for seeking help ‘taking out’ Black Lives Matter activist, is not white supremacist
A Florida congressman is under fire for inviting a Holocaust denier to the State of the Union on Tuesday.
Matt Gaetz, a first-term Florida Republican, insisted that he gave the ticket to Charles C Johnson only by happenstance, telling the Daily Beast that the notorious alt-right troll just “showed up at my office” on the day of the speech.
The Anti-Defamation League wrote an open letter to Gaetz denouncing his choice to invite Johnson and urging the politician to cut ties with him. “It is an insult to the memories of those killed in the Holocaust, to their families, and to the Jewish community to bring to the State of the Union as your guest a Holocaust denier,” the group said.
Johnson, who was permanently banned from Twitter in 2015 after asking for help “taking out” a Black Lives Matter activist, denied the Holocaust in a 2017 Reddit Ask Me Anything. “I do not and never have believed the six million figure,” he said. “I think the Red Cross numbers of 250,000 dead in the camps from typhus are more realistic.” Johnson also added that he thought the second world war was the result of “the efforts of communism to spread itself throughout the world”.
On Thursday, Gaetz insisted in an interview with Fox Business that Johnson was “not a Holocaust denier, he’s not a white supremacist”.
Johnson, a former writer for rightwing websites such as the Daily Caller, has maintained influence on the right. He helped to broker a meeting between the congressman Dana Rohrabacher and Julian Assange in 2017 and Donald Trump has reportedly read articles from Johnson’s current website.
Johnson’s invitation to the State of the Union marked just the latest brush with controversy for Gaetz in the past week. The Florida Republican had appeared with the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on his Infowars show. Gaetz has come to prominence in recent weeks as a fervent critic of the investigation into Russian influence on the 2016 election by the special counsel Robert Mueller.