Michigan GOP Official Hosted Podcast With White Nationalist

REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
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Years before he helped purge his local elections board, Michigan GOP official Shane Trejo hosted a podcast called Blood Soil and Liberty with a member of a white supremacist group.

Shane Trejo, chair of Michigan’s 11th District Republican Committee, made headlines earlier this year when he encouraged the ouster of a fellow Republican who had voted to certify President Joe Biden’s election. “You should quit all your GOP posts and never show your face at an event ever again,” Trejo texted the Republican elections official, whom he and other Republicans later blocked from re-nomination for office. Previously in 2020, Trejo had spread election-fraud conspiracy theories as a writer for the far-right site Big League Politics.

But Big League Politics wasn’t even Trejo’s most extreme venture on the far right. The local Republican chair used to host a podcast with a member of the white supremacist group Identity Evropa. The co-host, Alex Witoslawski, was recorded on an Identity Evropa leadership webinar giving fascists advice on how to make themselves appealing to mainstream conservatives.

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Trejo did not return The Daily Beast’s request for comment. His participation in the Blood Soil and Liberty podcast was previously flagged in 2019 by Gizmodo reporter Tom McKay, who noted that the podcast was racist even by the standards of Big League Politics, where Trejo works.

The podcast ran for 15 episodes starting in 2017, and appears to have been yanked from the internet by its creators the following year. Some podcasting sites still host its episode titles and descriptions remain online.

“Libertarian nationalist podcasters Shane Trejo - a states rights activist in the patriot movement for many years - and Alex Witoslawski - former conservative political operative turned American Renaissance writer - discuss current events from a consistently uncucked perspective,” the podcast description reads. “Common targets of derision include commie trash, losertarians, cuckservatives, thots, tokens, welfare migrants, and the French.” (American Renaissance is a white supremacist website. “Tokens” refers to people deemed to be “token” members of a minority group.)

Episode titles include “It’s OK To Be White, Right And Christian,” “Roy Moore Dindu Nuffin,” “The Paul Nehlen Pill,” and “Tanner Flake For Fuhrer.”

The titles are a time capsule of racist slogans from 2017. “It’s OK to be white” was a meme associated with an alt-right trolling campaign around the time of the podcasts. “Dindu nuffin” is another alt-right meme denigrating Black people, while Roy Moore was a Republican Senate nominee accused of sexual misconduct against minor girls. Paul Nehlen was a white supremacist congressional candidate who promoted terror tactics online. Tanner Flake is an ex-senator’s son who was caught using the screen name that included a racial slur and referenced killing Black people.

Although the audio from the podcasts is no longer available, Trejo and Witoslawski appear to have spoken favorably about white supremacists, describing Nehlen “as the first alt-right candidate for public office.” (The podcast’s website uses the term “alt-right” favorably, including in an essay in which Witoslawski describes himself as a member of the movement.)

The podcast didn’t try hard to obscure its political leanings.

“Blood and soil” is a Nazi slogan “used in Germany to evoke the idea of a pure ‘Aryan’ race and the territory it wanted to conquer,” according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Since then, it has been adopted by neo-Nazis; the white supremacists who marched on Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017 famously chanted the slogan the night before one of them murdered a woman with his car.

The Blood Soil and Liberty podcast launched soon after that deadly rally. The podcast’s website, which hosted self-proclaimed alt-right blogs, was registered just four days after the car attack, during a tumultuous moment for the alt-right. But instead of disavow the racist movement, as some on the right did, Blood Soil and Liberty came to the defense of the alt-right and groups that had marched in Charlottesville.

In an essay on the podcast’s website, Trejo’s cohost Witoslawski answered questions about the movement “from my own alt-right or ‘blood and soil’ libertarian perspective.” In that essay, Witoslawski repeatedly called for a white “ethnostate” with “an immigration system that virtually excludes non-European immigrants.” “Most Jews” and members of Black Lives Matter “should be encouraged through government policy to leave the country and resettle in their own ethnostates,” Witoslawski wrote on the podcast’s website.

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Other articles on the site include a blog post defending white supremacist Christopher Cantwell, an essay by “Ray Adolfson” who describes going to a “white lives matter” rally in November 2017, where multiple prominent Charlottesville marchers were in attendance.

“I had the chance to meet and speak with members from all of the groups that attended the rally including the Traditionalist Workers Party, Vanguard America, the National Socialist Movement, Identity Europa, Atomwaffen, and others,” Adolfson wrote. (An overtly pro-terror organization, Atomwaffen’s small membership was connected to five deaths in just eight months beginning in 2017.)

Another essay on the site, by Identity Evropa member James Allsup, was a defense of the alt-right in the days after the deadly Charlottesville rally, which Allsup had attended. Allsup’s essay was previously published on the website “The Liberty Conservative,” where Trejo was a news editor. When The Liberty Conservative removed Allsup’s article, citing pressure from Google’s advertising platform, Trejo penned a blog post defending Allsup, whose article he claimed “contained no offensive content (it was merely distinguishing the many differences between the alt-right and literal Nazis).”

For some on the alt-right, especially in Identity Evropa, Allsup was a prototype for infiltrating more mainstream Republican institutions. In 2018, The Daily Beast first reported, Allsup ran uncontested for a local Republican role in Washington. He soon bragged about his appointment on an Identity Evropa podcast.

“You have a seat at the table,” Allsup said of winning Republican offices. “And that’s the most important thing, getting that seat at the table, and you can get that seat at the table by, yes, showing up, yes, by bringing people in, and again this doesn’t necessarily only have to be IE members.”

Allsup’s local Republican committee later ejected him. Nevertheless, the far right continued to cite his political career as one to emulate. “We can’t all be Andrew Anglin,” a racist podcaster noted in 2018, namedropping a particularly noxious neo-Nazi, “but 10,000 of us can be James Allsup.”

In a separate podcast appearance with Identity Evropa leader Patrick Casey, Witoslawski described tactics for making the group seem more palatable to a broader swath of Republicans. Leaked Identity Evropa chat logs show Witoslawski giving the same advice, in more candid terms, telling members to “effectively avoid questions” about the group’s true motives.

“The moment you say ‘We’re not Nazis’ […] that’s going to be the topic of the media report, it's going to be whether or not we’re Nazis. And that is not a conversation we want to have,” Witoslawski said, according to chats published by the outlet Unicorn Riot. “We want to have a conversation about our issues and our topics, not whether or not we’re National Socialists, right?”

(In a currently ongoing civil trial against participants in the Charlottesville rally, a former Identity Evropa organizer testified that members of the group embraced neo-Nazi language, using the slogan “did you see Kyle?” and a discrete Nazi salute as a way of announcing “sieg heil” in public.)

Trejo, who has authored articles in defense of Allsup on multiple websites, has found his own path to politics.

In a now-deleted Big League Politics post shortly before the 2020 election, Trejo shared audio from inside a training session for elections officials. Trejo claimed the clip showed officials practicing to flip votes and destroy ballots. The audio demonstrated nothing of the sort, the Detroit Free Press reported at the time. Still, Trejo’s deleted article was cited by election fraud conspiracy theorists as Biden appeared poised to win Michigan. When a Republican elections canvasser certified Biden’s victory last November, Trejo texted her to quit her GOP posts and never appear at another public event.

By February, Trejo was named chair of Michigan’s 11th Congressional District Republican Committee—a role that gave him partial control over the district’s elections canvassers. The Republican canvasser who had certified Biden’s election found herself blocked from re-nomination to the post, she told The Daily Beast last month.

Instead, Trejo and peers selected a new Republican canvasser, who told the Detroit Free Press that he would not have certified Biden’s victory.

“I believe they were inaccurate,” the new canvasser told the Free Press of Michigan’s votes, adding that he had heard rumors about the vote from other people. “I don’t know, I wasn’t there, you know? It’s hard to second-guess that kind of stuff until you’re there, that’s one reason I wanted to be on the committee.”

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