A Department of Defense diversity chief who compared former President Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler has been given a different assignment as his social media activity is probed.
Richard Torres-Estrada, a former Virginia diversity official, was hired in March by U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) as its chief of diversity and inclusion. When made aware of the post comparing Trump to Hitler, and other posts denigrating Republican officials, the Pentagon began an investigation.
Torres-Estrada is carrying out other duties at USSOCOM amid the probe, military spokesmen said.
“Mr. Torres-Estrada has been assigned to other duties pending the results of the investigation,” a USSOCOM spokesperson told The Epoch Times via email.
Asked why USSOCOM didn’t immediately terminate Torres-Estrada, the spokesperson added: “Personnel actions for civilian personnel assigned to headquarters USSOCOM are governed by federal law and civilian personnel regulations from the Office of Personnel Management, the Department of Defense, and the Department of the Air Force. Civilian employees have rights under those laws and regulations. When allegations are made about an employee, the command must determine what the facts are and what actions, if any, are appropriate under those laws and regulations before taking action.”
Special Operations Command claimed to be unaware of the activity before hiring the official.
Torres-Estrada didn’t immediately respond to requests by The Epoch Times for comment. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin supports the investigation, a Pentagon spokesman said this week.
“Obviously, we take the need to promote diversity and inclusion seriously here in the department,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters in Washington. “The secretary has spoken of that many times. And we certainly want that work to be transparent, to be credible, to be effective, and, of course, professional. We want everybody to take those duties and those responsibilities seriously and professionally.”
Lawmakers have expressed dismay over the hiring of Torres-Estrada, based on the posts.
“I am shocked at the hiring of Richard Torres-Estrada as Chief of Diversity and Inclusion at one of America’s functional combatant command headquarters. Comparing former President Trump, who was duly elected by the American people, to a genocidal madman directly responsible for killing six million Jewish men and women shows irredeemably poor judgment and the total inability to separate fact from fiction,” Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) said in a statement.
Johnson sent a letter to Austin asking for a detailed report on the official’s qualifications, and whether a background check had uncovered Torres-Estrada’s posts, which were made on his publicly available Facebook account.
“What do you think, will a ‘diversity and inclusion’ officer for our elite military units make America stronger? Or are China and Russia laughing at us?” added Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) in a tweet.