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Biden White House forces resignation of former Trump aide who promoted baseless Jan. 6 theories

The Biden administration on Friday forced out Darren Beattie, who was a member of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, along with six other members appointed by Trump.

Violent rioters supporting President Donald Trump storm the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. (John Minchillo/AP)
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The Biden White House has forced the resignation of a Trump-appointed member of a U.S. commission who has promoted the baseless claim that the FBI planted agents among the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Darren Beattie was named by former president Donald Trump to the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad in November 2020. In a letter Friday, Gautam Raghavan, deputy director of the White House office of presidential personnel, told Beattie that he must turn in his resignation by the end of business Friday and if he did not, his position would be terminated.

A spokesman for the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Beattie confirmed the White House’s letter in a Friday afternoon tweet, saying the request for his resignation was “better than a Pulitzer [Prize].”

“You’ve been fired by better people than this,” commented Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), an outspoken conservative.

As a member of the commission, Beattie was serving a three-year term and would have had the option of retaining his post until replaced. Members of the commission aren’t paid for their service.

The White House move comes days after Beattie’s actions as a right-wing blogger attracted attention from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack. The panel dismissed the “unsupported” claim that the FBI helped to incite the insurrection, a theory perpetuated by right-wing media and some Republicans looking to absolve the pro-Trump mob that attacked the building.

The committee’s statement came after it interviewed Ray Epps, an Arizona man who encouraged others to break into the Capitol on Jan. 5 and was seen on the Capitol grounds the day of the attack. In the interview with the committee, Epps denied any involvement with the FBI or any other law enforcement agency.

Beattie runs a right-wing site that, in two separate posts, claimed that Epps was hired by the FBI to agitate the pro-Trump mob. Republican lawmakers opposed to the Jan. 6 investigation, including Gaetz and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), picked up the baseless theory and began peddling it, along with Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

Beattie was put on the board of the commission, whose main role is to preserve monuments in Europe, many honoring Holocaust victims, after he was fired from the Trump White House for attending a conference frequented by white nationalists. In 2018, CNN reported that he had spoken during the 2016 H.L. Mencken Club Conference, an annual gathering that is regularly attended by white nationalists such as Richard Spencer.

Before that, Beattie served as one of Trump’s speechwriters.

On Sunday, the former president issued a statement praising Beattie for pushing his baseless claims about Jan. 6, when the pro-Trump mob invaded the Capitol to stop the affirmation of Joe Biden’s electoral college win, an attack that left five dead and 140 members of law enforcement injured.

“Because of Darren’s work, and others, Americans aren’t buying into the Unselect Committee’s attempts to smear 75 million (plus!) Americans,” Trump said, in an apparent reference to his 2020 voters. He received about 74 million votes; Biden got about 81 million.

Six other members appointed to the commission by Trump were also asked to resign, including commission Chair Paul Packer, conservative activist Julie Strauss, New York planning commissioner Joseph Douek and attorney Mark Levenson.

Late Friday, the White House announced new appointments to replace the seven departing members, as well as the board for the International Food and Agricultural Development. Former New York City homicide prosecutor turned Emmy-award nominated TV host Star Jones was named chair of the commission. Others named to the board include William H. Shaheen, husband of New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D), and Nancy K. Kaufman, former CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women.

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