Senior White House Advisor In Hot Water After Being Caught Promoting Online Conspiracies.
The following was first published on CNN:
A White House senior adviser at the Department of Homeland Security promoted several far-right conspiracy theories in past radio appearances, a CNN KFile review has found.
Frank Wuco, a former naval intelligence officer and conservative talk radio host, has served as the White House adviser to DHS since January and leads a team tasked with helping to enforce President Donald Trump's executive orders.
A KFile review of more than 40 hours of Wuco's radio appearances shows he regularly promoted unfounded conspiracy theories that have been spread by members of the far right over the years. Among the conspiracy theories Wuco pushed were claims that former President Barack Obama's memoir was ghost written by former anti-Vietnam War radical Bill Ayers, claims that former CIA director John Brennan converted to Islam and claims Attorney General Eric Holder had been a member of the Black Panthers.
KFile previously reported Wuco pushed false claims during radio appearances that Obama was not born in the US, made disparaging comments about the LGBT community, and lamented what he called the "Zimbabwe-fication" of America.
A DHS spokesman said the remarks from Wuco in the first KFile piece were "years-old comments cherry picked from thousands of hours" that had "no bearing on his ability to perform his job for the American people." The conspiracy theories Wuco has promoted emerged during a deeper review by KFile after that DHS statement.
In two radio appearances in 2012, Wuco claimed that former Weather Underground leader Bill Ayers ghost-wrote Obama's memoir, "Dreams From My Father," a claim far-right bloggers began spreading during the 2008 election and one that repeatedly resurfaced during Obama's presidency.
In response to the claims, Ayers has joked that he wrote the book, and if right-wing bloggers could prove it, he could start collecting royalties. Many who pushed the claim took his jokes as admissions, which only further fueled the conspiracy theory. In his 2013 book "Public Enemy: Confessions of an American Dissident," Ayers described the claim as being pushed by a "bunch of cranks."
In a December 2012 appearance on right-wing radio show, Wuco said, "You know, I still find it to this day incredibly disturbing that this is a man whom we still know almost nothing about outside of what has been presented to us in two autobiographies which are, now you know if you believe one of his closest associates, were not even penned by him but were you know, penned by William Ayres, and this is William Ayers' words."
Wuco made the same claim in an October 2012 episode of "The Frank Wuco Show."
Wuco also made several claims in a July 2012 episode of his show that Obama had his birth, baptismal and academic records sealed and that he had a foreign student ID and applied for foreign aid while at Columbia University. All of these claims have been repeatedly debunked.
"While he was senator, before he ran for president, they invested over $1 million in legal fees," Wuco said. "There is a mechanism for having records legally sealed and the person who is in the White House right now has all the following records are sealed: His baptismal records, his birth records, his actually, his student application records to the prep school that he went to in Hawaii -- which is one of the most well-heeled prep schools in Honolulu, which is not an inexpensive place to live. His student loan applications, sealed. He had a foreign student ID I believe while he went to Columbia University, applied for foreign aid."
In a September 2012 appearance on a right-wing radio program, Wuco pushed unfounded claims that Huma Abedin, a top aide to Hillary Clinton, had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist political group, and that her parents were members of the organization.
"Hillary Clinton's deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin, Wuco said. "Her parents were both Muslim Brotherhood. She maintains very close ties to Muslim Brotherhood organizations here in the United States such as the Islamic Society of North America and CAIR."
Claims that Abedin has connections to the Muslim Brotherhood have been labeled as false and unfounded by fact-checkers from the Washington Post, PolitiFact and Snopes. When a group of House Republicans pushed the claims in 2012, several high-profile Republicans came to Abedin's defense, including Sen. John McCain from Arizona, who called the claims an "unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honorable woman, a dedicated American and a loyal public servant."
In a May 2013 episode, Wuco falsely claimed that then-Attorney General Eric Holder was involved in the Black Panthers in the 1970s. It's unclear what Wuco based his claim on, but there is no evidence that Holder was involved in the Black Panthers movement.
"I firmly believe that this is much of what motivates this man. As a college student in the 1970s, you do not join the Black Panther movement unless you are angry about things. And unless you feel that there has to be some sort of action, not just to achieve justice in our time, but to achieve equilibrium for things that have happened in the past over which you or Eric Holder has no control whatsoever."
In February 2013, Wuco promoted a claim that John Brennan, then the nominee to be the director of the CIA, had converted to Islam when he was stationed in Saudi Arabia. Wuco interviewed former FBI agent John Guandolo, who is the only source for the unsubstantiated claim. There is no evidence to support this claim.
"You came out publicly at least earlier this week with Tom Trento and reported that to the best of your knowledge and I want to fully air this out," Wuco said to Guandolo. "That according to contacts, friends of yours within the FBI, they were stationed with John Brennan in Saudi Arabia when Brennan was there. And at that time, Brennan converted to Islam."
"If true, it sort of fits the pattern of a guy who seems to be really almost uncontrollably attracted to political winds shifting, if he's so attracted to shifting political winds that he will dive headlong into them when he's serving in a foreign country to favor the foreign government," Wuco said. "That is, that's disconcerting."
Claimed Hillary Clinton faked her concussion
In a December 2012 episode of his radio show, Wuco argued that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was lying about a head injury she sustained the same month she was scheduled to appear at a hearing about the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya. He called the concussion "fake" and contended that, as a result, Clinton would suddenly fail "to remember anything about Benghazi." Wuco demanded that Clinton show evidence of her fall in the form of a "bump" and "black and blue mark." He then said that even if she did so, he would not believe her.
"I would not at all be surprised if one of Hillary's aides has whacked her over the head with a croquet mallet to give her a lump so she can go out in front of the news media and then when she finally does testify, my bold, Hollywood prediction is that she will testify that according to her physicians the part of her brain that contained any memory of what happened at Benghazi was affected by the concussion, end of story, done," Wuco said.
Clinton testified twice in front of Congress about the Benghazi attack after her concussion.