Kate Brannen, Dan De Luce and Jenna McLaughlin report: On June 11, alt-right blogger Mike Cernovich published an article attacking an assistant to National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, claiming the previously low-profile civil servant wanted to “sabotage” President Donald Trump.
The piece described Eric Ciaramella as “pro-Ukraine and anti-Russia” and alleged, with no evidence, that he was possibly responsible for high-level leaks. The response to the piece included online threats of violence against Ciaramella, which contributed to his decision to leave his job at the the National Security Council a few weeks early, according to two sources familiar with the situation.
Although the harassment was not the only factor, one of the two sources said they “distinctly got the impression” that the departure was premature, partially because of “right-wing” harassment.
Ciaramella is not alone. Cernovich, who claims his Twitter feed receives over 100 million views every month, has been relentless in his criticism of McMaster and those around him. Cernovich’s writings and tweets have included false information, but sometimes they include details that only someone on the inside could know. For example, his tweets about Ciaramella were so specific that they documented meetings and lunches the NSC staffer had with certain people.
After Ciaramella left the NSC, Cernovich turned his attacks on Twitter against his prospective successor, who has not been publicly announced.
Career civil servants often endure stressful working conditions, but in the Trump White House, some of them face online trolling from alt-right bloggers who seek to portray them as clandestine partisans plotting to sabotage the president’s agenda. The online attacks often cite information that appears to be provided by unnamed White House officials or Trump loyalists.
The trend has unnerved the career intelligence analysts, diplomats, security experts, and military officers who are accustomed to operating outside the political arena. Coupled with White House talking points accusing government employees of jeopardizing the country’s security through leaks to the media, the online abuse threatens to damage morale and politicize institutions long seen as impartial and above partisan combat. [Continue reading…]