Defense

Virginia GOP official resigns after he called for Pentagon chief to be lynched

The Republican chairman of a Virginia electoral board has stepped down after a racially charged Facebook post he made about Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and others came to light last week. 

David Dietrich, the former chairman of the Electoral Board in Hampton, resigned Saturday — two days after his social media posting was discovered and prompted Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) and other GOP lawmakers to call for his removal. 

In a post from February 2021, Dietrich targeted Austin and retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré — both Black men — in a post, using the N-word and calling for “a good public lynching.” 

The ranting post was written shortly after Austin ordered a stand-down across the Defense Department to address extremism in the ranks, a decision made following the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Trump. 

Dietrich’s post said that Austin’s decision was meant to “remove conservative, freedom-loving Americans” from the military. 

Dietrich also targeted Honoré, who Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) appointed to conduct a review of the Capitol’s security failures during the insurrection.  

“Even in light of those truly irresponsible, mean-spirited, indeed, wicked comments, [Austin is] going to be focused on leading the department forward and trying to continue to set an example going forward. That’s where his head is,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Tuesday when asked about the Pentagon chief’s reaction. 

“No matter who you are … where you came from, what your background is, he believes that if you’re qualified and you want to serve this country, you should be able to do it. And you’ll be able to do it without fear of discrimination or harassment,” Kirby said. “In his view, there’s no place in the Department of Defense for comments like that, for the actions that come from comments like that.” 

Austin previously pledged during his confirmation hearing that he would fight to “rid our ranks of racists and extremists.” The Pentagon has struggled with the issue over the years as it has little information about how deep the problem runs, making it difficult to create a plan for action. 

Dietrich’s resignation came after Youngkin called for his removal from the board.

“As governor, I serve all Virginians. I won’t accept racism in our Commonwealth or our party. The abhorrent words of a Hampton Roads official are beyond unacceptable and have no place in Virginia,” Youngkin wrote on Twitter Saturday. 

The Republican Party of Hampton released their own statement on Facebook along with a screenshot of the offending post, saying the “abhorrent and unacceptable racist language” has no place in the GOP or the Commonwealth.  

“Dietrich’s appointment was appalling but not shocking. . . . I’m relieved he has resigned. I didn’t feel safe & didn’t feel our voters were safe,” Rebecca Winn, vice-chair of the board, wrote on Twitter.  

—Updated Thursday at 12:31 p.m.

Tags Department of Defense extremism in the ranks Facebook Glenn Youngkin GOP John Kirby Lloyd Austin Llyod Austin Nancy Pelosi pentagon racism racist comments Russel Honoré Trump Virginia

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