October 30, 2020

Leaked memo promises penalties for Trump officials who don’t stop diversity trainings

  • A memo written on Monday by Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought directs heads of federal departments and agencies to take “immediate and substantive action” to implement an executive order by President Donald Trump putting an end to diversity and race-related trainings.
  • The memo leaked to Insider warns of penalties for officials who don’t abide by the president’s orders to end the trainings, which the White House has described as “divisive.”
  • Trump signed an executive order on September 22 that blasted several government diversity training programs as “malign ideology” from the “fringes of American society.”
  • The directives come on the heels of protests against racial injustice across the country that have continued for months and prompted a reckoning with the treatment of Black people and other racial minorities.
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Federal officials could be penalized if their agencies and departments don’t take “immediate and substantive action” to implement President Donald Trump’s new — and controversial — directives to ban certain kinds of government diversity training, according to a memorandum obtained by Insider.

The memorandum, written and signed on Monday by Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought, is addressed to heads of executive branch departments and agencies. In the memo, Vought orders them to “designate at least one senior political appointee to review and approve in advance any expenditure on Federal employee diversity and inclusion training.”

Those who don’t abide could be in trouble.  

 

“Agency employees and contractors are not to engage in divisive training of Federal workers,” Vought wrote. “Noncompliance by continuing with prohibited training will result in consequences, which may include adverse action for Federal employees who violate the Order.” 

Federal contractors must also refrain from conducting such trainings for their own employees. If they do, there will be “potential sanctions for noncompliance,” the memo warns.

“Agencies should take immediate and substantive action to begin this implementation,” Vought wrote. 

Trump’s efforts to stop such training on diversity and race-based bias come at a time of widespread protests over racial injustice and police brutality directed at Black people in the US. 

When some protesters began toppling statues of Confederate soldiers and slave owners, Trump demanded strict penalties for the perpetrators and a defense of the nation’s heritage — further inflaming tensions.

Trump signed an executive order on September 22 that blasted several, specific government diversity training programs as “malign ideology” from the “fringes of American society.”

The president cited, for example, a State Department training that stated that “virtually all White people, regardless of how ‘woke’ they are, contribute to racism.”

He likewise took issue with a Smithsonian training that told participants: “[f]acing your whiteness is hard and can result in feelings of guilt, sadness, confusion, defensiveness, or fear.”

“All of this is contrary to the fundamental premises underpinning our Republic: that all individuals are created equal and should be allowed an equal opportunity under the law to pursue happiness and prosper based on individual merit,” Trump wrote in his executive order.

Monday’s OMB memorandum, which follows a more general directive on September 4, echoed Trump’s words.

“The President and the Administration believe the fair and equal treatment of individuals is an inviolable principle that must be maintained in the Federal workplace,” it stated. “Agencies should continue all training that will foster a workplace that is respectful of all employees.”

Some corporate officials and trade groups have denounced Trump’s decision. The Information Technology Industry Council called it an “unacceptable step backward for racial equity.”

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