This Yahoo News story is excruciatingly vague, but does focus on the question that needs to be focused on: Just what the hell is the relationship between notorious arch-conservative hoaxer and internet troll Charles Johnson and Trump’s hanging-on-by-his-teeth commerce secretary Wilbur Ross?

“Hi Secretary Ross,” the markedly informal email sent by Johnson that day begins. “Great chatting with you the other day.” Johnson proceeds to say that he would be “speaking before about 30 congressmen on tech issues” in Washington and “would love to meet” with Ross as well.

Ross tried to set up that meeting via an adviser, and a similar later meeting based on something of supposedly “international import.” The meetings themselves allegedly never actually happened, however. Johnson would only tell Yahoo News that it was a “national security matter,” which is as likely to be a lie as not, and there’s no explanation why Ross would be granting special and deferential treatment to Johnson even after Johnson’s exposure as Holocaust denier, fake news promoter, extremist fundraiser, and the like have rendered him toxic nearly everywhere else. It is a mystery.

What we do know: Chuckles here for some reason has access to at least two (?) of Wilbur Ross’s apparent non-governmental email addresses, as well as those of “several Commerce officials.” Ross and Johnson had an apparently friendly enough relationship that Johnson could request a meeting with the sitting commerce secretary and Ross would ask his staff to follow up.

And we can apparently add Wilbur Ross to the list of Trump figures now caught red-handed using personal email accounts to handle government business, a matter of transcendental urgency and pants-wetting Republican panic only a few brief summers ago.

So far nobody involved is willing to explain this one, not even to offer up some vague excuse for why Wilbur Ross was willing to offer private access to one of Republicanism’s most notorious crackpots. Did Johnson have a lead on some new business partners Ross could cheat out of a hundred million bucks? Was it just part of the Republican push to claim that everyone from conservative fake news promoters to the excruciatingly weird “Diamond and Silk” are being oppressed by technology companies unwilling to handcraft their algorithms to grant far-right clickbait mavens the attention and revenue they insist upon? Nobody will say! It is a mystery!

But no, it is not “normal” for a renowned internet troll and extremist to be in personal email contact with the secretary of commerce over supposed “national security” issues. Somebody’s gonna have to pipe up with an explanation here, and they’d better make it a bit more plausible than the claim that Charles Johnson stumbled on a “national security matter” that he wanted to hash out with Wilbur while he just happened to be in town.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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