This is what a recent White House news release said about a nomination President Trump is making to fill a slot in his administration:
The president intends to appoint Frederic Malek of Virginia to be a member of the Board of Trustees of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in the Smithsonian Institution and to designate him as chair.
Here’s what it didn’t say: Malek is a prominent Republican who once worked in the administration of President Richard M. Nixon and counted the number of Jews working in the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the request of Nixon, who was worried about a Jewish “cabal” there.
The appointment to chair the trustees board of the renowned Washington think tank was announced Aug. 30, a few weeks after Trump caused controversy by blaming both sides for violence in Charlottesville. White supremacists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members who were marching against the removal of a Confederate statue clashed with people who were protesting the supremacists’ presence on the University of Virginia campus on Aug. 12. Trump said there was “blame on both sides.” After criticism, he attacked the White supremacists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan but also insisted that both sides were to blame.
Malek, a former president of Marriott Hotels and Northwest Airlines, did not respond to requests for comment about the nomination or the Nixon-era controversy.
As related first in the 1976 book “The Final Days” by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, Malek was the White House personnel chief under Nixon. The president had come to believe that Jews in the Bureau of Labor Statistics were trying to undermine him by manipulating employment statistics, and he wanted Malek to look into it.
The matter became public again in 1988 after archives of Nixon’s presidency were opened and revealed new information. According to this Sept. 11, 1988, report by Walter Pincus and Woodward:
On July 27, 1971, Malek reported to H.R. (Bob) Haldeman, Nixon’s chief of staff, that 13 of 35 top BLS officials were Jewish in a memo that reporters found last week in the archives of Nixon’s presidency.
Less than two months after Malek’s memo, two senior BLS officials who are Jewish were ousted from their posts and moved to less visible positions in the Labor Department agency. They were Peter Henle, chief economist for BLS, and Harold Goldstein, the director of current employment analysis …
In that story, Malek said he had nothing to do with removing Jewish officials from their positions:
“If I had even been peripherally involved or asked to alter someone’s employment status [because of their religious or ethnic affiliation], I would have found it offensive and morally unacceptable, and I would have refused.”
While denying that he had conducted anti-Jewish activities, he resigned as the Republican Party’s deputy chairman on Sept. 11, 1988.
Washington-based writer Timothy Noah, in a 2007 Slate article, reported on newly released transcripts of Nixon conversations and wrote about a memo indicating that Malek did have a role in removing Jews from their positions at the bureau. Here’s what Noah wrote:
Malek told Washington Post reporters Woodward and Walter Pincus that Nixon’s notion of a “Jewish cabal” that was out to get him was “ridiculous” and “nonsense.” He washed clean his sins by plunging into Jewish and pro-Israel philanthropy. Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, and Malcolm Hoenlein, vice chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, both granted indulgences for Malek’s “mistake,” and two of the three BLS employees who were transferred — Peter Henle and Harold Goldstein — told blogger Steven I. Weiss two years ago that they held no grudge.
But Malek’s mea culpa would appear to be incomplete. Malek denied to Woodward and Pincus that he had anything to do with the transfers and that if he’d been asked to reassign anyone based on religious affiliation, he’d have refused. That’s hard to square with the newly published memo, which was unavailable to Woodward and Pincus when they wrote their story …
Noah then details a Sept. 8, 1971, previously unpublished memo to Haldeman about plans to make “fairly drastic moves” in the BLS that affected Jewish employees in what Malek said was a bid to make the agency “a more responsive and effective unit.”
The 1988 Pincus-Woodward story noted that Malek, a U.S. Military Academy graduate and former Green Beret, earned a Harvard Business School degree and became a millionaire before he was 30. He was not implicated in any of the criminal activity of the Watergate scandal that led to Nixon’s resignation in 1974.
Malek, founder and chairman of the hospitality investment company Thayer Lodging, has remained active within the Republican Party, raising money and advising GOP nominees, including Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) during his 2008 presidential run. He has also served as finance chairman of the Republican Governors Association. In 2010, he was named by Bob McDonnell, then Virginia’s governor, as chairman of the state’s Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring, and Malek founded and became chair of a conservative group called the American Action Network.
In a post on his blog about his new appointment, Malek said, “The Wilson Center prides itself on being a ‘living memorial’ for our nation’s 28th president, and I am grateful to continue that legacy with my appointment to serve as its chairman.” He also said he has worked closely with the center for decades and is “thrilled” to keep working on its mission.
(Update: Nomination procedure complete; Malek is appointed)