The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Northrop Grumman employee who allegedly attended violent white-supremacist rally is no longer employed at the company

Northrop Grumman headquarters in Falls Church, Va. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News)

Michael Miselis, a Northrop Grumman systems engineer who allegedly is a member of a white-supremacist organization and participated in a violent rally in Charlottesville last summer is no longer employed at the company, a Northrop Grumman spokesman said Friday.

The news follows a Thursday report by the investigative news organization ProPublica and the television program “Frontline,” which identified Miselis in photos and videos from the rally, where he is seen with arms raised and tape covering his hands. The report also identifies Miselis in a video “pounding on” a black man at the rally.

“The individual is no longer a Northrop Grumman employee,” Northrop Grumman spokesman Tim Paynter said Friday afternoon, referring to Miselis.

Northrop was initially slow to respond to the allegations. ProPublica and “Frontline” reported early Thursday morning that Miselis had remained employed at Northrop even after his superiors had been informed of his actions. On Thursday afternoon Northrop published a statement saying it would “take immediate action to look into” the issue, but a company spokesperson declined to comment on Miselis’ employment at the time.

Then on Friday morning Northrop Grumman chief executive Wes Bush told employees in an internal email that the company would “take the appropriate actions to make sure that our foundation remains strong well into the future,” without saying which specific actions the company would take.

The email was forwarded to The Washington Post by a Northrop Grumman employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the employee feared retaliation. “They would end up firing me and not the white supremacist” for forwarding Bush’s email to a reporter, the person said.

In the email, which did not confirm whether Miselis had participated in the Charlottesville rally, Bush said he had heard from a number of people who “expressed concern for fellow employees” in light of the report’s findings.

“There is no place in our company for those who demonstrate behaviors that are counter to our values,” Bush wrote in the email. “If we allow such inconsistencies to be present in our company, we erode the foundation of our enterprise — our ethics and our integrity. Our leadership team will not allow that to happen, and we are determined to take the appropriate actions to ensure our foundation remains strong well into the future.”

Company press releases have similarly touted the firm’s commitment to diversity, noting that the firm was recognized on a list of top-50 companies for diversity by the publication DiversityInc.

According to ProPublica and “Frontline,” Miselis is a 29-year-old PhD student studying aerospace engineering at the University of California at Los Angeles. He also worked as a systems engineer at a Northrop Grumman facility in Redondo Beach, Calif., and holds a security clearance for that work, the report says.

The report identifies Miselis in photos and videos taken from a white-supremacist rally last summer in Charlottesville at which one person was killed when a car was driven into a crowd of counterprotesters.

A photo accompanying the report shows a man identified as Miselis. It also cites a video in which he “pushed an African American protester to the ground and began pounding on him.” The report states that Miselis was a member of the Rise Above Movement, or RAM, a white-supremacist group.

Northrop Grumman, the fifth-largest recipient of federal contract dollars, is not the only government contractor to have become embroiled in controversy following the Charlottesville riots last summer.

After President Trump blamed “both sides” for the violence, leading to the disbanding of the president’s business councils, the four government contractors on the president’s advisory councils at the time — Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Harris Corp. and United Technologies — waited until after the councils had disbanded to publicly weigh in, even as other businesses publicly criticized the president’s comments. Hours before the councils were disbanded, Lockheed Martin chief executive Marillyn Hewson said in a companywide email that the firm would continue to participate in the councils.