Justice Dept. cancels news briefings service after sending white nationalist link

By Matthew Choi

The Justice Department announced Friday it is canceling its internal news clippings service following backlash from a briefing that linked to a white nationalist website.

The Department's Executive Office for Immigration Review sent immigration court employees a link to a post by VDare — which promotes white nationalist and anti-Semitic viewpoints — earlier this week as part of a daily news briefing. The link drew backlash from court employees and was first reported by BuzzFeed.

EOIR spokeswoman Kathryn Mattingly confirmed to POLITICO that the news briefings would be canceled and that the office will not renew its contract with the private firm that compiled the clippings.

"We have determined that the sampling was over inclusive and contained non-news sources," Mattingly said in a Friday statement. "EOIR strongly condemns anit-Semitism and white nationalism. Those hateful beliefs do not reflect the views of EOIR employees and the Department of Justice."

The news clippings were compiled by TechMIS, a private company based in Florida. Steven Mains, chief executive officer of TechMIS, said "of course" he was disappointed with the office's decision, and that the public affairs office always had final say in what went out in the briefings.

"They scrutinize those carefully," he said.

Though Mains said "we provided exemplary service to the government," he added that it was ultimately "their call" for EOIR to end its contract and that he did not expect the office to show interest in renewing its contract soon.

Mains said the firm was chartered by EOIR to "give them the full universe of stories that relate to EOIR without censoring the news — The good, bad and the ugly."

Mains added that the company has never had a problem with the department before with its content.

Josh Gerstein contributed to this report.