A white nationalist propagandist who met with billionaire investor Peter Thiel has been deeply embedded in the movement for well over a decade, and has provided an ideological bridge between suit-and-tie white nationalism and its more violent fringe, according to leaked emails and texts shared with Hatewatch.
Kevin DeAnna – who met with Thiel on the evening of July 29, 2016, in the midst of the 2016 election cycle – was not merely a participant in a white supremacist subculture when he met Thiel but also was immersed in its most extreme elements, including literature admired by terrorists. Deanna wrote under the pseudonyms “Gregory Hood” and “James Kirkpatrick” over a decade for white nationalist publications such as VDARE and American Renaissance, as Hatewatch reported in a four-part series published in March 2020. He cited texts like “SIEGE” and used terminology drawn from such other books as “The Turner Diaries” in his work and in private conversation. “The Turner Diaries,” originally published in 1978, has influenced some of the most infamous acts of U.S. domestic terrorism, including the murder of Alan Berg in 1984 and the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. “SIEGE,” once an obscure neo-Nazi newsletter, has resurfaced in recent years as the preferred text of neo-Nazi terroristic organizations such as the now-defunct Atomwaffen Division.
DeAnna was also connected to people in the U.S. government. About six weeks prior to his meeting with Thiel, DeAnna discussed recruiting for a white nationalist group with State Department official Matthew Q. Gebert. Gebert, who used the pseudonym “Coach Finstock” online, recruited members for “D.C. Helicopter Pilots” – a Virginia and Washington, D.C.-based organizing chapter of white nationalist organization The Right Stuff. Gebert was suspended from his job in the Bureau of Energy Resources, but the State Department has never clarified whether or not he is still being paid.
Hatewatch confirmed reporting first published in Buzzfeed suggesting Thiel met with DeAnna, using a cache of images provided by former Breitbart editor Katie McHugh, who has since renounced white nationalism. McHugh captured a picture of DeAnna’s exchange with Thiel, as well as of several other emails, in August 2016. Hatewatch was able to compare a screenshot of one of these photos, given to us by McHugh in November 2018, with a series of cached images uploaded to her iCloud. Hatewatch has also been able to verify another email thread between DeAnna and his editors at VDARE, a white nationalist website where he wrote under the pseudonym “James Kirkpatrick,” discussing the meeting in the same manner.
Hatewatch reached out to Thiel, DeAnna, Gebert and several other figures mentioned in this article. All but one, VDARE editor Peter Brimelow, declined to comment. Brimelow told Hatewatch that he “[didn’t] have clear recollection of the events” mentioned in an email and asked, “Isn’t it rather a long time ago?” Hatewatch also reached out to both Facebook and Palantir, a data analytics firm co-founded by Thiel. Palantir declined to respond, and a spokesperson from Facebook declined to comment.
The images provided to Hatewatch show a series of messages between Thiel, DeAnna and Brendan Kissam. Kissam, according to BuzzFeed, is a former conservative activist who has produced videos for VDARE under a pseudonym. Archived posts from Kissam’s Facebook, which were provided to Hatewatch by a group of antifascist researchers known as the Anonymous Comrades Collective, showed him interacting with white nationalists such as Counter-Currents’ Greg Johnson and “Millicent Willows” – an account that appears to belong to the white nationalist YouTuber Colin Robertson, who published videos under the pseudonym “Millennial Woes.” (“Millicent Willows” used the same logo as Robertson’s “Millennial Woes” YouTube channel.) On Jan. 21, 2017, the same weekend as Trump’s presidential inauguration, he posted a selfie with Richard Spencer, who lived near Washington, D.C., at the time.
Kissam introduced the two men over email on July 30, 2016 – a few days after Thiel appeared at the Republican National Convention. The message used the subject line “Right Wing Dinner Squad III.” Though the intent is unclear, the subject line appears similar to a meme popular on the far right, “Right Wing Death Squad.” As a meme it refers to the history of authoritarian far-right dictatorships and their extrajudicial killings.
Kissam wrote that he had been “looking forward to you guys getting to meet.” Thiel then followed up with DeAnna individually, saying he “really enjoyed meeting you last night” and suggesting they meet up when Thiel was in Washington, D.C., next or whenever DeAnna was in “SF” – which likely stood for San Francisco, where Thiel lived.
As Hatewatch has noted, DeAnna had been involved with far-right and, later, white nationalist organizations for 10 years at the time the email was exchanged with Thiel.
It is unclear who else was at the gathering. However, in another email referencing the meeting, DeAnna’s editor at VDARE, Peter Brimelow, cited a few other possible attendees. Dated July 2, a little less than 30 days before Thiel, DeAnna and Kissam met, Brimelow chastised DeAnna for not keeping him “abreast of Alt Right developments.” He cited a forthcoming “meeting with the Right Stuff, Ann Coulter, Thiel, etc.” as an example.
DeAnna’s work as a white nationalist propagandist tied him to Kissam
DeAnna was one of numerous people who attempted to balance careers in mainstream institutions in and around Washington, D.C., with a “secret” life as a white nationalist organizer. In 2006, he founded a far-right student group, Youth for Western Civilization (YWC), while working at the right-wing Leadership Institute as a field representative. (Leadership Institute, which has provided training for a number of prominent right-wing figures in the past, denied any affiliation with YWC.) While head of YWC, DeAnna began writing under the bylines “Gregory Hood” and “James Kirkpatrick” on hate sites in 2008 and 2011, respectively. Over the course of the next 12 years, DeAnna wrote well over 1,700 articles for white nationalist outlets, including VDARE, the National Policy Institute’s Radix Journal, American Renaissance, Counter-Currents and The Social Contract.
Kissam, for his part, was clearly aware of DeAnna’s pseudonymous personas at the time he connected DeAnna to Thiel.
As McHugh recalled to Hatewatch, Kissam had attended an event where DeAnna was scheduled to speak as “Gregory Hood” a few months prior to his meeting with Thiel. She noted that both men were attendees at Counter-Currents’ inaugural New York Forum in May 2016. DeAnna, who had been a Counter-Currents contributor since 2011, was billed as one of the main speakers. McHugh, who attended the event with DeAnna, told Hatewatch that she met Kissam after the event. She noted that Kissam accompanied Counter-Currents publisher Greg Johnson, as well as other speakers, to a restaurant in the city after the speeches at the forum concluded.
How DeAnna’s work bridged suit-and-tie white nationalism with its more violent fringe
DeAnna indulged deeper, more sinister currents within the white power movement as well.
DeAnna’s work under the pseudonym “Gregory Hood” drew upon foundational white nationalist and neo-Nazi texts that have inspired numerous acts of domestic terrorism. As both “Kirkpatrick” and “Hood,” DeAnna frequently refers to a “System” – often with a capital “S,” mirroring “Turner Diaries” author William Pierce’s own orthography. DeAnna, like Pierce, presents “the System” as both a governmental and nongovernmental coalition of minority groups set out to destroy whites.
Writing as Hood, DeAnna cited “SIEGE,” a collection of neo-Nazi James Mason’s writings, on numerous occasions. In 2013, years before the text was popularized by the neo-Nazi forum Iron March, DeAnna cited “SIEGE” in a Counter-Currents essay about the need to destroy the Republican Party. DeAnna wrote that Mason was correct in stating that “white advocates must think of all white people everywhere as our army.” The original post, published on Counter-Currents’ website on Jan. 31, 2013, linked to a part of the site where one could buy Mason’s tract for $20, plus shipping and handling.
McHugh, who dated DeAnna from 2013 to 2016, and again briefly in 2017, told Hatewatch that DeAnna owned a copy of “SIEGE” prior to its popularization by the neo-Nazi forum Iron March.
“The bold, red lettering of ‘SIEGE’ on the book spine is unmistakable. It is a heavy book, and DeAnna told me not to read it,” she told Hatewatch.
Some of DeAnna’s writing, such as an April 2016 essay in Radix Journal titled “On LARPing,” combined references to both “The Turner Diaries” and “SIEGE.”
“Most of us don’t do anything. . . . We don’t take to the streets; we don’t hang the traitors from lampposts; we don’t revolt the same way any of our ancestors would,” DeAnna wrote.
“Unless you’re not paying taxes, living outside the law, or in some form of war against the powers that be, you’ll be objectively helping the System keep going, whatever subversive thoughts you have within your own head. Hence, the radical (even by National Socialist standards) James Mason recommended either total war or dropping out of the System entirely,” he continued.
The essay earned him the praise of at least one user on Iron March, an international neo-Nazi forum that birthed the terroristic neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division.
“Gregory Hood is by far the closest writer to our views that [Radix Journal has],” wrote one user, “James Futurist,” on Nov. 16, 2016.
DeAnna helped carry water for the more violent wing of the movement in other ways. The email thread between DeAnna and the Brimelows referring to his forthcoming meeting with Thiel contained a reference to a “Gregory Hood article about Sacramento on AmRen.” Here, Brimelow is referencing a piece penned by DeAnna under his “Hood” pseudonym about the “battle of Sacramento” – a June 26, 2016, riot in Sacramento that broke out after members of the neo-Nazi Traditionalist Worker Party and Golden State Skinheads clashed with antifascist counterprotesters. As Hatewatch reported, the event resulted in 514 misdemeanor and 68 felony charges, and it involved over 100 people.
“There is no doubt that it was the leftists who started the violence, but by most accounts, it was the TWP that finished it,” DeAnna wrote on July 1, 2016, parroting the language used by TWP’s leader Matthew Heimbach. DeAnna called TWP and GSS’s event a “legally sanctioned demonstration,” and wrote, “It is invariably violent or potentially violent leftists who attack white advocates who are demonstrating or meeting peacefully.”
However, Heimbach – who was not present at the event – boasted at the time that “we,” referring the participants in the TWP and GSS event, sent six antifascist protesters to the hospital.
DeAnna was invited by a former State Department official to a white nationalist meetup
Around the same time he met with Thiel, DeAnna was invited to a white nationalist recruitment meeting by former State Department official Matthew Q. Gebert.
In June, a little less than two months before his post-RNC dinner with Thiel, DeAnna received an email from Gebert inviting him and McHugh to a gathering of what appeared to be members of the white nationalist group “D.C. Helicopter Pilots.” The group appeared to be largely active between 2016 and 2018.
“Our nucleus (about 10 sharp and accomplished goys) will meet for dinner around 6 pm in Old Town, then head out to a few bars where some prospects from the Forum will join. If your plans fall through, we’d be honored to host you and the lady as special (surprise) guests for dinner, or just grab a few drinks after,” Gebert wrote from a Proton Mail account associated with his “Coach Finstock” pseudonym on June 16, 2016.
“Old Town” here appears to refer to the historic district of Alexandria, Virginia.
The “prospects” from the Forum appears to refer to members looking to join the local chapter of TRS for which Gebert performed recruitment, as Hatewatch previously reported.
How Hatewatch authenticated the emails
In fall 2018, this reporter received a tip from a source, then anonymous, who claimed to have information on an alleged meeting between Peter Thiel and a prominent white nationalist that took place during the 2016 election cycle. The source later revealed herself to be former Breitbart editor Katie McHugh.
In November 2018, McHugh provided Hatewatch with an image file showing an email exchange between DeAnna and Thiel. McHugh told Hatewatch that the image was a photo she had taken with her phone of DeAnna’s unlocked computer in August 2016, when the two were living together in Virginia.
However, the file provided to Hatewatch was a screenshot dated November 2018, and not the original JPG file from McHugh’s phone. As a result, it lacked the metadata that would corroborate the time and date the photo was taken, and when/if it was backed up to either McHugh’s hard drive or the cloud.
Hatewatch has now been able to verify the authenticity of these images from a reconstructed archive of McHugh’s iCloud, which was created when McHugh backed up her phone by plugging it into her computer. Hatewatch was also able to verify images of a few other emails in the same manner.
With these cached images in hand, Hatewatch concluded McHugh conducted a backup on Sept. 15, 2016, as that is when MacOS appears to have created the cache. Hatewatch was thus able to determine that McHugh had taken this image between backups made on Aug. 5, 2016, and Sept. 15, 2016 – a timeline that matched McHugh’s own recollection that she took the photo in early Aug. 2016.
The image appeared identical to the screenshot provided to this reporter in late 2018.
Photo illustration by SPLC