WASHINGTON — Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon may have left the building, but one of his top aides, Julia Hahn, remains in the West Wing.
Hahn is a 26-year-old former writer from Bannon’s site, Breitbart News. Earlier this week, a source familiar with the situation told Yahoo News that Hahn was staying on in her position as a special assistant to the president and deputy strategist in the wake of Bannon’s departure last month.
Due to her fiery writings for Breitbart, association with the controversial Bannon, and an unusual level of secrecy surrounding her work, Hahn has been the subject of mystery and intrigue since President Trump took office. Hahn did not respond to multiple requests for comment on this story and the White House would not say what Hahn has been working on. However, a source said that, prior to Bannon’s exit, she was working closely with him and another top staffer, Stephen Miller, and focusing on immigration policy. Neither Bannon nor Miller responded to requests for comment on this story.
In addition to the secrecy surrounding Hahn and her duties, her rather unconventional background contributed to the interest in her work. Hahn hails from Beverly Hills, where her grandfather built a bottling company fortune, her father has produced movies, and she attended one of the Los Angeles area’s top private schools before going on to University of Chicago. Her grandmother is a well-known philanthropist and staunch advocate for gun control and her younger brother has worked in one of Trump’s least favorite fields, journalism, including a stint as an intern at the president’s frequent target, CNN. None of Hahn’s immediate family or former co-workers responded to requests for comment on this story.
Despite her roots in the liberal enclaves of Hollywood and academia, Hahn ended up developing hard-line views, particularly on immigration. She also built a close relationship with Bannon, whom liberal critics have decried as a far-right and even white supremacist influence on the White House. Earlier this year, there was a spate of profiles of Hahn in the Washington Post, the Intercept, and the New Yorker. They variously dubbed Hahn Bannon’s “right-hand woman,” his “disciple,” and even “Bannon’s Bannon,” in a reference to his reputation as a key architect of Trump’s nationalistic platform. This view of Hahn as an ideologue and Bannon protégé was cemented by her writings for Breitbart, where she railed against “immigration from undeveloped, foreign cultures” and the “expansionist immigration agenda” of House Speaker Paul Ryan, a leader in the Republican establishment.
In the last year, Hahn largely focused her Breitbart writing on immigration and trade, two of Bannon’s top priorities. Hahn regularly excoriated what she decried as the “globalist” and “open borders” agenda of Democrats and the establishment GOP. During last year’s presidential election, Hahn repeatedly attacked Trump’s opponents for backing international trade deals and immigration reform.
In a piece published last November three days before the election, Hahn blasted vice presidential candidate Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., for delivering a speech in Spanish that projected “communities of color will represent the majority of our population” by 2050. Hahn attributed this “demographic transformation of the United States” to “legal issuances of immigration visas to people from non-Western countries.” She also accused Kaine of cheering the “end of white majority.”
Hahn closed the piece on Kaine’s speech by accusing Ryan of sharing Democrats’ “desire for open borders” in opposition to “nine in 10 of his Republican constituents.” In another article for Breitbart published last October, Hahn accused Ryan of engaging in an effort to undermine Trump while boosting the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton. Hahn said Ryan and Clinton shared a “progressive, globalist worldview, which is at odds with Trump’s ‘America first’ approach.” Earlier that same month, Hahn wrote a piece that accused Ryan of criticizing Trump while ignoring what she described as an epidemic of sexual assaults by “criminal aliens.”
“Ryan has remained passive and quiet as criminal aliens have assaulted tens of thousands of American women, but when an 11-year-old audiotape emerged of Donald Trump caught on a hot mic discussing women in crass terms, Ryan declared himself ‘sickened’ and spoke out,” Hahn wrote, referencing the infamous tape of Trump and television host Billy Bush.
Though crimes have been committed by undocumented immigrants, there is no evidence undocumented immigrants commit more crime than American citizens. Some studies have indicated undocumented immigrants commit less crime and, in recent years, as the immigrant population rose, violent and property crime has declined.
In addition to the Bannon departure, recent shakeups saw another former Breitbart staffer, Sebastian Gorka, leave the West Wing on August 25. These moves have come after former Marine Gen. John Kelly was installed as White House chief of staff and given a mandate to crack down on leaks and impose some discipline on the chaotic West Wing. Some in Trump’s orbit fear Kelly’s ascendance is a sign establishment and “globalist” voices are gaining influence and eliminating the populist “economic nationalism” that Bannon and his allies advocated and was encapsulated in Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
Though the White House indicated Gorka did not leave his position of his own accord, he still penned a heated resignation letter blaming his exit on “forces that do not support the MAGA promise,” which he described as “ascendant within the White House.” Gorka did not respond to a request for comment on this story.
Both Gorka and Bannon have indicated they hope to influence the White House from the outside as Trump prepares to address two of the policy issues closest to their hearts — trade and immigration. The Trump administration is currently renegotiating the North American Free Trade agreement and, on Friday, the White House said there will be an announcement about the DACA immigration program next week. With Trump still reportedly calling Bannon for counsel and Hahn’s presence in the West Wing policy shop, it seems clear Bannon’s influence continues inside the building as well.
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