One of Donald Trump’s top foreign policy advisors has been accused of making anti-Semitic statements, including scoffing at the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust and boasting that he ousted Jews from the Defense Department.
Joseph Schmitz, who served as the Defense Department inspector general between April 2002 and September 2005, has been accused in a complaint before the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) by Daniel Meyer, a senior official within the intelligence community. In Meyer’s complaint file, he stated, “His summary of his tenure’s achievement reported as ‘…I fired the Jews,’” citing former top Pentagon official John Crane as the source and witness to the remarks. According to Meyer, Crane said Schmitz denied that six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust. Meyer wrote, “In his final days, he allegedly lectured Mr. Crane on the details of concentration camps and how the ovens were too small to kill 6 million Jews.”
Schmitz has denied the charges, claiming Crane was the source of other false accusations. He said, “The allegations are completely false and defamatory. I do not recall ever even hearing of any ‘allegations of anti-Semitism against [me],’ which would be preposterously false and defamatory because, among other reason(s), I am quite proud of the Jewish heritage of my wife of 38 years.”
Schmitz’s wife’s maternal grandmother was Jewish; by Jewish law a person is Jewish if their mother is Jewish. Schmitz has claimed he helped write Trump’s first major foreign policy speech in April.
Meyer had no comment on the case, asserting he had to remain silent because the case is still pending. Crane offered, “If, when, I am required to testify under oath in a MSPB hearing, I would then comment on the statement attributed to me by Mr. Meyer. Statements made under oath at the request of a judge in a formal proceeding would also remove my vulnerability to any potential civil litigation by any party involved in the filings by Mr. Meyer.”
Crane’s lawyer, Andrew Bakaj, blasted Schmitz’s characterization of his client, saying Crane “has had no association or involvement with any of the numerous news accounts challenging the actions or decisions made by Mr. Schmitz when he was Inspector General.”
Meanwhile, David Tenebaum, an Amy engineer at the Tank Automotive Command (TACOM) in Warren, Michigan, mentioned the accusations against Schmitz in a letter this week to Acting Pentagon Inspector General Glenn Fine. He asserted current and former Pentagon officials had perpetuated an anti-Semitic culture. His attorney’s letter read, “The anti-Semitic environment began under a prior Inspector General, Mr. Joseph Schmitz.” Tenenbaum was labeled an Israeli spy by the Army, which launched a criminal investigation; Bridget Serchak, a Pentagon inspector general’s office spokeswoman, concluded in 2008 that Tenenbaum had been singled out for “unusual and unwelcome scrutiny because of his faith” as an Orthodox Jew.
The way he was treated from 1992 to 1997, the inspector general’s report concluded, was discriminatory. He re-obtained his security clearance; it was increased to top secret. He was never charged.