It’s no secret that Donald Trump’s vetting standards leave a lot to be desired. After all, he tapped Steve Bannon as the operating head of his campaign, then as the head of the White House political operation, despite his documented ties to the most extreme elements of the right–white supremacists, white nationalists, the lot.
So it came as no surprise when it emerged that a top communications staffer at the Department of Health and Human Services is under fire for her past as a right-wing blogger and podcaster. Namely, Ximena Barreto, the deputy of director of communications at the department.
On Monday, Eric Hananoki of Media Matters did a deep dive into Barreto’s past after ProPublica added her to its database of Trump appointees. Before coming to Washington in December 2017, the Colombian-born Barreto made a name for herself as a right-wing blogger and podcaster under the moniker “Republican Chick.”
Hananoki discovered much of Barreto’s material was staggeringly extreme, even by Trump standards. Watch a mashup of her worst moments here.
Barreto was an open and unashamed promoter of Pizzagate. In a November 30 Periscope video, she webt as far to suggest that efforts to stop the Electoral College from making Trump president were an effort to distract us from the supposed pedophile ring involving high-profile Democrats and celebrities. In that same video, she also claimed that Islam was “a f***ing cult”–apparently doubling down on an earlier call she made for Islam to be banned.
Within hours of Media Matters’ report going live, HHS placed Barreto on administrative leave. But a recent report by CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski and his team at the KFile suggests that Barreto shouldn’t plan on coming back any time soon. Kaczynski did a deep dive into Barreto’s tweets and discovered she’d shared some unnerving memes.
For instance, Barreto continued to breathlessly promote the Seth Rich conspiracy theory long after it had been debunked, firing off at least two tweets claiming that Rich had been whacked on orders from Hillary Clinton or the Democratic National Committee. She also falsely claimed that the family of longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin had terrorist ties. She also claimed that French president Emmanuel Macron was a puppet of the Rothschild family–long a favorite target for conspiracy peddlers on the extreme left and the extreme right.
All of this could have been easily detected had the White House adequately vetted Barreto. The fact she even made it to Washington suggests that her vetting was cursory at best. Media Matters and CNN were able to find this information in a matter of minutes. It should have been obvious that Barreto was not fit to clean the Humphrey Building, let alone serve in it.
Imagine if a full-on 9-11 truther, or someone who was okay with spiking trees, had been appointed to a policy-making position in a Democratic administration. Rightly, it wouldn’t even be up for debate–that person would not be fit to serve on the public payroll. This is no different.
We already knew that Trump’s desire to have “only the best people” is yet another lie. This only underlines it.
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