Homeland Security senior adviser promoted birtherism, said Obama knew 'nothing about the black American experience'

Frank Wuco

Story highlights

  • Frank Wuco has served as the White House adviser to DHS since January.
  • CNN's KFile reviewed more than 40 hours of audio of Wuco's show and his other appearances.

(CNN)A White House senior adviser at the Department of Homeland Security previously promoted conspiracy theories about former President Barack Obama's birthplace, lamented the "Zimbabwe-fication of America," and mocked the LGBT community.

Frank Wuco has served as the White House adviser to DHS since January and now leads a team tasked with helping to enforce President Donald Trump's executive orders, including the administration's travel ban.
Before that, he hosted a conservative talk radio show in Florida for several years and appeared as a guest on other talk radio shows. CNN's KFile reviewed more than 40 hours of audio of Wuco's show and his other appearances.
    Wuco, a retired naval intelligence officer, has previously come under media scrutiny for his hardline views on Islam. Wuco has said that violent extremism is in line with the teachings of mainstream Islam and has dressed up as a jihadist character named Fuad Wasul in videos to teach others about the dangers of Islam.
    KFile's examination found that Wuco's controversial commentary went beyond discussion of Islamic terror.
    On the radio, Wuco said Obama knew nothing of the "black American experience," defended the initial speculation in the media that Muslim extremists were responsible for the mass killing in Norway, and said that gay people had hijacked the word "gay" from happy people.
    Tyler Houlton, the acting press secretary at DHS, told CNN in a statement, "Mr. Wuco works every day to keep the American people safe by helping to implement the President's security-focused agenda, including raising the global bar for vetting and screening of potential terrorists. Years-old comments cherry picked from thousands of hours on the air have no bearing on his ability to perform his job for the American people."
    Promoted birtherism
     Wuco also used his platform as a radio host to promote the debunked conspiracy theory that Obama was not born in the US. In August 2011, Wuco hosted Jerome Corsi, author of "Where's The Birth Certificate: The Case That Barack Obama Is Not Eligible to Be President." On his website, Wuco promoted the discussion by calling Obama's then-recently released long-form birth certificate "a questionable document."
    Wuco said Corsi's book "laid it out in very significant detail, not just why it's important that (Obama) present better credentials on his status as a natural born citizen, but a lot of the things that surrounded it and where it is important as to the constitutionality of just being able to get your name on the ballot."
    Later, Wuco asked Corsi why people were disengaged with the birth certificate issue, saying Corsi made "a good case" for, and asked why Americans didn't seem to care about "the significance of this."
    Wuco's criticism of Obama extended beyond his birthplace to how Obama presented himself as a black man. He said in one radio episode that Obama knew "nothing about the black American experience."
    "This person, not only does he, with the exception of the color of his skin, not only does he sort of lay a very false claim on his identification with the black American experience, he has no idea what it is. But people don't care," Wuco said in December 2012, supposedly quoting a friend in Chicago.
    "And I find that disturbing that he has really gotten away with presenting himself as this representative of the black American community, when he grew up during his formative years in one of the best neighborhoods in Honolulu, Hawaii, in a mixed race neighborhood that consisted of whites, affluent Asian, and children of high-ranking military officers," Wuco continued. "This is the neighborhood he grew up in. He knows nothing about the black American experience."
    In October 2011, Wuco criticized Obama for sounding "super ethnic" when he speaks to black audiences.
    "One thing that I noticed with Barack Obama is that whenever he addresses, whether it's the Congressional Black Caucus or now it's the Martin Luther King Memorial, he all of a sudden sounds like he's playing the part of an African-American preacher in a movie," Wuco said. "He all of a sudden becomes, you know, super ethnic, super, you know -- he doesn't talk like that. This guy's from Honolulu, Hawaii. I've been there a bunch of times. I was in the Navy. There's nobody in Honolulu who walks around speaking like a revival preacher. Something that Barack manages to do." 
    Lamented the "Zimbabwe-fication" of America
    Racial tensions between blacks and whites also came up on Wuco's radio program. In one December 2012 episode, he criticized a "Saturday Night Live" monologue by Jamie Foxx, the star of the film "Django Unchained," in which Foxx plays an escaped slave who seeks to free his wife and take vengeance on her owner.
    "I kind of call this the Zimbabwe-fication of America, where it is now, we're now being encouraged to find glamour and humor in race-baiting violence against certain people, if you are a celebrated person in this country," Wuco said, referencing violence against the white population in Zimbabwe. 
    "I'm talking about Jamie Foxx who, I'm just going to come right out and say it, the guy's a racist, plain and simple. He's a racist. There's no excuse for it. There's no, I don't care if people say, 'Well, he's a comedian,' and his dull-witted and just absolutely indifferent response on a morning talk show this week, 'Yeah yeah well I'm a comedian. So you know you shouldn't take me too--' Listen, it's repetitive with him now." 
    Wuco continued, "I mean on, I'm talking about the 'Saturday Night Live' skit last week where he was talking about 'How black is that?' You know, 'We have Barack Obama as president. How black is that?'' And this 'How black is that' monologue went on until he talked about his movie Django. And he says, in the end of it, he gets to kill all the white people and then he says 'How great is that?' And that's disturbing to me. It's not great. It's not cool."
    In January 2013, Wuco attacked Colin Powell for his condemnation of racism in the Republican Party.
    "Let's just stop right here and figuratively just slap this guy in the face for the stupid things he's saying," Wuco said of Powell. "Who the hell does this guy think he is? He is basically, he's accusing anybody who has ever pointed out that perhaps somebody is exhibiting lazy habits, or laze, or a lackadaisical attitude on a certain aspect of their discipline, their work discipline, or their intellectual discipline, or something, that if that person is black you cannot use the word lazy because it necessarily means that you're a racist."
    Wuco also mocked Powell for saying the phrase "shucking and jiving" is racist. "You cannot use terms like shuck and jiving, in which I've used before," Wuco said. "I did not know that it was a racist term from the South. In my ignorance, am I a racist without knowing it?"
    Comments about LGBT rights
    Wuco frequently discussed his opposition to efforts to expand LGBT rights on his show, in particular his opposition to the Obama administration's decision to end the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy employed by the US military.
    In July 2011, Wuco said that the repeal would put a burden on straight members of the military to handle the situation maturely.  
    "There is no fairness in this issue," Wuco said, "In fairness—to me—you know, the burden now falls on the straight member of the military to be, you know, stable, steady, mature enough to handle the very likely possibility that that he is going to be the object of another man or a woman's desire while he is, you know, sharing you know, shower facilities."
    On episodes where Wuco discussed gay rights, he frequently made jokes and double entendres.
    "Bringing it up from the rear so to speak, we will cover the the gays in the military issue," Wuco would say, and "we're going to bring it up the rear, so to speak, with the gays and the Navy issue."
    In another episode, Wuco made fun of Admiral Mike Mullen, Obama's Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who supported the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, saying he "bent over and took it" from Obama.
    "With the Hollywood-friendly Admiral Mullen at the helm of our great military ship, it's no mystery that our top flag officer bent over and took it like a man from the President and check-writers in Congress," he said. "Another reason Mullen will probably be one of the most forgettable and weak figures in Joint Chiefs history."
    Wuco also criticized gay-straight alliances in high schools in another episode, saying there was nothing straight about them.
    "This has been a very, very intelligently executed campaign by gay advocacy groups to get gay education into our schools," Wuco said in December 2011.
    Wuco also said in July 2012 that gay people hijacked the word "gay" from happy people and that he was going to reclaim the word.
    "There's some very slick sort of, you know, publicity things that the homosexual community has done, like hijacking the word gay, which used to mean sort of footloose, fancy free, happy. It used to mean happy, happy and carefree, doesn't anymore. I want to recapture the word."
    In a June 2012 episode, Wuco repeatedly joked about openly gay congressman Barney Frank's marriage and made gay jokes about Frank and his partner. "Barney Frank weds his longtime boyfriend Jim Ready. I guess Jim, was ready for Barney's Frank and they got married in Boston," Wuco said. "Awe, isn't that sweet. You know what. You know what's just gross about that. I mean really gross. I mean it's not that the two guys got married -- I'll talk about that in a different category. But what's gross is that Barney Frank is 72 years old and this other guy Jim Ready. Jim who is ready for Barney's Frank -- is 42 years old. 30 years Barney Frank's Junior. And I always I have these bold Hollywood predictions and they are normally true. They normally come true, I'm fairly accurate on my bold Hollywood predictions, in this case it is a bold Washington D.C. prediction," he said, "and that is that Jim Ready will leave Barney Frank. I give them about two or three years on the outside and I'll take it even a step further -- and this is not to condescend over the the romantic appeal of a guy like Barney Frank to somebody like Jim Ready -- but something tells me that that Jim Ready may leave Barney for a real woman, not Barney Frank."
    Frank and Ready are still married. 
    Defended initial speculation Norway attack was Islamic terror
    In July 2011, Wuco defended the initial speculation that Muslim extremists were responsible for the mass killing of 77 people in Norway, which was actually perpetrated by a right-wing extremist. Wuco criticized the head of the Islamic Society of North America, Safaa Zarzour, for lamenting in a Los Angeles Times article that the speculation of Islamic terror was confirmation that Muslims are guilty until proven innocent.
    "I don't think that what is sad about this event, Mr. Zarzour, is that people thought it was the Muslims. 'They blamed us,'" Wuco said, while mock-crying.
    "It's victimology," he continued. "It's the game they're good at and, quite frankly, I'm really disgusted by it."'
    He added, "Listen, if it quacks like a duck, if it looks like a duck, smells like a fish, it's a duck with a fish in its mouth."
    Later in the episode, Wuco said that he didn't know what people possibly could have thought other than it was Islamic terrorism, until it was revealed that a far-right terrorist was behind the attack.