Pete Hegseth

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Pete Hegseth
Pete Hegseth (51329766174) (cropped).jpg
Hegseth in 2021
Personal details
Peter Brian Hegseth

(1980-06-06) June 6, 1980 (age 42)
Forest Lake, Minnesota, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Meredith Schwarz
(m. 2004; div. 2009)

Samantha Deering
(m. 2010; div. 2017)

Jennifer Rauchet
(m. 2019)
EducationPrinceton University (BA)
Harvard University (MPP)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service2003–present
RankUS-O4 insignia.svg Major
UnitMinnesota Army National Guard
Individual Ready Reserve
Battles/warsIraq Campaign ribbon.svg
Iraq War
Afghanistan Campaign Medal ribbon.svg
War in Afghanistan
AwardsBronze Star ribbon.svg
Bronze Star (x2)
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg
Army Commendation Medal (x2)
National Defense Service Medal ribbon.svg
National Defense Service Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal ribbon.svg
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Expert Infantry Badge.svg
Expert Infantryman Badge
Combat Infantry Badge.svg
Combat Infantryman Badge

Peter Brian Hegseth (born June 6, 1980) is an American television host and author.[1]

Hegseth is an Army National Guard officer and former executive director of political advocacy groups Vets For Freedom and Concerned Veterans for America. The latter, a conservative advocacy group funded by the Koch brothers, advocates greater privatization of the Department of Veterans Affairs.[2] He was considered to lead the United States Department of Veterans Affairs in the Trump administration, but in January 2017, David Shulkin was selected instead.[3][4]

Hegseth has been active in conservative and Republican politics since his days as an undergraduate at Princeton University. In 2016, he emerged as a strong supporter and ally of Donald Trump's presidential candidacy, and served as an occasional advisor to Trump throughout the latter's presidency. He reportedly persuaded Trump to pardon three American soldiers accused or convicted of war crimes related to the shooting of non-combatants in Iraq. Hegseth, who was a platoon leader at Guantanamo Bay during his military service, defended the treatment of inmates detained there.[5]


Hegseth attended Forest Lake Area High School in Forest Lake, Minnesota, and received his Bachelor of Arts at Princeton University in 2003.[6] In 2013, he received a Master of Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.[7]

At Princeton, Hegseth was the publisher of The Princeton Tory, a conservative student-run publication.[8]

Military career[edit]

Following graduation from Princeton in 2003, Hegseth joined Bear Stearns as an equity capital markets analyst and was also commissioned as a reserve infantry officer into the U.S. Army National Guard.[9] In 2004 his unit was called to Guantánamo Bay, where he served as an infantry platoon leader with the Minnesota National Guard. His unit was under the operational control of the 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment 101st Airborne Division. He was awarded the Army Commendation Medal. Shortly after returning from Cuba, Hegseth volunteered to serve in Baghdad and Samarra, where he held the position of infantry platoon leader and, later in Samarra, as civil–military operations officer. During his time in Iraq, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, and a second Army Commendation Medal.[10]

He returned to active duty in 2012 as a captain. He was deployed to Afghanistan with the Minnesota Army National Guard and acted as a senior counterinsurgency instructor at the Counterinsurgency Training Center in Kabul. Hegseth, a major, currently serves in the Individual Ready Reserve. He has been awarded two Bronze Stars for his service overseas.[11]

Conservative activism and Senate campaign[edit]

Upon return from Iraq, Hegseth worked briefly at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. According to his LinkedIn page, Hegseth left the conservative think tank in 2007 to work at Vets For Freedom as executive director.[12] His role included responding to the Federal Election Commission as "treasurer" of the organization.[13][14] He worked at Vets for Freedom until 2012.[12] The organization advocated a greater troop presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.[12] Hegseth formed the political action committee MN PAC in 2012.[12]

Hegseth was the executive director for Concerned Veterans for America, an advocacy group funded by the Koch brothers.[2] The group advocated greater privatization of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).[2] According to his LinkedIn page, he left the group in 2015.[2]

2012 U.S. Senate campaign[edit]

Hegseth ran for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat in Minnesota in 2012.[12] He withdrew from the race after the May 2012 convention, before the Republican primary election in August,[15][16] both events in which Kurt Bills won the nomination.

Questioned spending[edit]

While Hegseth was its chief executive, Concerned Veterans for America hired his brother Philip to work for the non-profit and paid him $108,000 according to tax records from 2016 and 2017. Asked about it, Hegseth's lawyer said that Philip, a May 2015 university graduate, was qualified for the media relations job, and noted there is no prohibition against private entities hiring family members.[12]

An APM Reports analysis found that while Hegseth ran the MN PAC political action committee, one third of its $15,000 in funds were spent on Christmas parties for families and friends. Campaign finance laws in Minnesota do not prohibit such spending. Less than half of the PAC's resources was spent on candidates, and as of March 2018, the PAC had closed its account with the state board.[12]


During the 2016 Republican primaries, he initially backed Marco Rubio, then Ted Cruz, and ultimately Donald Trump.[12] in the years since, Hegseth has emerged as a strong Trump supporter.[12] As a Fox News personality, he frequently criticized the media and Democrats. He criticized Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.[12] Hegseth has appeared on Fox News Channel, as well as on CNN and MSNBC.[17]

Fox News[edit]

Hegseth joined Fox News as a contributor in 2014.[12]

On June 14, 2015, Hegseth accidentally hit a West Point drummer with an axe while filming a live TV segment in honor of Flag Day.[18] According to the drummer, he sustained "only minor injuries." The New York Daily News reported that in a later segment, the drummer was "seen cheerfully speaking on camera as if the accident never took place."[18]

In May 2018, Hegseth mocked The New York Times for ostensibly not covering a story about the capture of five ISIS leaders, referring to the paper as the "failing New York Times".[19] However, it was The New York Times that broke the story in question.[19]

In December 2018, Hegseth co-hosted Fox News Channel's All-American New Year with Fox Business Network's Kennedy, during which a pre-recorded telephone interview between him and President Trump was broadcast.[20][21]

In May 2019, it was reported that Trump was considering pardoning several US military service members who had been charged with war crimes, including a veteran set to stand trial for shooting indiscriminately at civilians, hitting a girl and an elderly man,[22] as well as fatally stabbing a captured teenage Islamic State (ISIS) member while he was receiving medical treatment. The Daily Beast and CNN later reported that Hegseth had for months sought to convince Trump to pardon these individuals. At the same time, Hegseth was discussing these cases on Fox News without disclosing that he had advised Trump to pardon them.[23][24] In November 2019, Trump pardoned three service members accused or convicted of war crimes. Shortly before Trump announced his decision, Hegseth suggested that Trump was about to take "imminent action" in the cases.[25][26]

In July 2019, Hegseth said that one of the Muslim members of Congress, Rashida Tlaib, had a "Hamas agenda".[27]

In August 2019, he lamented that "young kids voting" are worried about the adverse effects of climate change. Hegseth also criticized universities for teaching students about "environmentalism and radical environmentalism" rather than a "real threat" such as Islamic extremism.[28]

In January 2020, Hegseth expressed strong support for President Trump's decision to kill Iranian General Qasem Soleimani.[29] He also called on Trump to bomb the Iranian homeland, including cultural sites in Iran if they were storing weapons.[30]

In February 2020, amid the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, Hegseth said that Democrats were "rooting for coronavirus to spread. They're rooting for it to grow. They're rooting for the problem to get worse."[31]

He has been a regular guest on Unfiltered with Dan Bongino since 2021.[32]

Hegseth suggested the Omicron variant of COVID-19 was made up by Democrats to help them in the 2022 midterm elections, saying "Count on a variant about every October, every two years."[33]

Personal life[edit]

Hegseth and his first wife, Meredith Schwarz, divorced in 2009. He married his second wife, Samantha Deering, in 2010; they have three children.[12] During his marriage to Deering, Hegseth had a daughter with Fox executive producer Jennifer Rauchet, with whom he was having an extramarital relationship, in August 2017.[12] He and Deering divorced in August 2017. Hegseth and Rauchet, who has three young children from her first marriage, married in August 2019.[34]

Hegseth identifies as a Christian.[35]


Hegseth wrote the foreword to the 2017 book The Case Against the Establishment (ISBN 978-1-6826-1474-7) by Nick Adams and Dave Erickson.[36] His own books include:

Awards, decorations, and badges[edit]

Combat Infantry Badge.svg Combat Infantryman Badge
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze Star (x2)
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Commendation Medal (x2)
National Defense Service Medal ribbon.svg National Defense Service Medal
Afghanistan Campaign Medal ribbon.svg Afghanistan Campaign Medal
Iraq Campaign Medal ribbon.svg Iraq Campaign Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal ribbon.svg Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Expert Infantry Badge.svg   Expert Infantryman Badge


  1. ^ "Pete Hegseth". Fox News. 2016-12-01. Retrieved 2017-04-06.
  2. ^ a b c d Summers, Juana. "Veterans groups sound the alarm on Trump's plan to replace VA secretary". CNN. Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  3. ^ Philipps, Dave (January 11, 2017). "Head of Veterans Health System Is Trump's Pick to Lead Veterans Affairs". The New York Times. New York City.
  4. ^ Philipps, Dave (December 12, 2016). "Veterans Groups Urge Trump to Keep Obama's V.A. Secretary". The New York Times. New York City.
  5. ^ "Military vet says Guantanamo Bay prison should not close". Minot Daily News. North Dakota. September 25, 2016. Retrieved May 4, 2021.
  6. ^ Riese, Clint (February 15, 2012). "Hegseth weighing U.S. Senate bid". The Forest Lake Times. Retrieved 2014-07-14.
  7. ^ Padilla, Cathy (February 4, 2019). "Pete Hegseth: Fighting the War for American Values". Community Magazine. Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  8. ^ Schultz, Bob (August 27, 2008). "Meet Pete Hegseth". Journal Gazette & Times-Courier. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  9. ^ Kersten, Katherine (July 19, 2007). "Minnesota warrior takes his fight from Iraq to Washington". Minnesota Star Tribune.[dead link]
  10. ^ Rowland, Kara. "Pete Hegseth – Bio, News, Photos". Washington Times. Retrieved 2017-04-06.
  11. ^ "Pete Hegseth". Ballotpedia. Retrieved 2021-08-24.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Scheck, Tom (March 27, 2018). "Words and deeds out of alignment for potential Cabinet appointment and Fox News personality". Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  13. ^ Hegseth, Pete (September 29, 2008). "Re: July Quarterly Report (4/1/08-6/30/08)". Letter to Federal Election Commission. Archived from the original (TXT) on July 14, 2014.
  14. ^ Hegseth, Pete (December 7, 2009). "Re: Mid-Year Report (1/1/09-6/30/09)". Letter to Federal Election Commission. Archived from the original (TXT) on July 15, 2014.
  15. ^ Weigel, David (July 23, 2015). "Defeated by Ron Paul's network, veterans advocate will host Rand Paul". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  16. ^ rachelsb (May 24, 2012). "Republican Hegseth is out of U.S. Senate race. For good". Star Tribune. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  17. ^ "Brief Biography: Pete Hegseth". Vets for Freedom. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved July 14, 2014.
  18. ^ a b Golgowski, Nina. "SEE IT: 'Fox & Friends' co-host strikes bystander with flying ax on live TV". Retrieved 2021-03-31.
  19. ^ a b Gstalter, Morgan (May 11, 2018). "'Fox & Friends' host mocks NYT for not covering story it reported". TheHill. Retrieved May 13, 2018.
  20. ^ Barber, James (December 31, 2018). "Army Vet Pete Hegseth Hosts New Year's Eve Coverage on Fox News". Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  21. ^ Phifer, Donica (January 1, 2019). "Donald Trump Says New Year's Resolutions Are 'Success, Prosperity And Health Of Our Country'". Newsweek. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  22. ^ Philipps, Dave (April 23, 2019). "Navy SEALs Were Warned Against Reporting Their Chief for War Crimes". The New York Times. Retrieved January 10, 2020.
  23. ^ Suebsaeng, Asawin; Brodey, Sam; Kirell, Andrew (May 21, 2019). "Fox News Host Pete Hegseth Privately Lobbied Trump to Pardon Accused War Criminals". The Daily Beast. Retrieved May 21, 2019.
  24. ^ Darcy, Oliver (May 21, 2019). "Fox News host Pete Hegseth has privately encouraged Trump to pardon servicemen accused of war crimes". CNN. Retrieved May 21, 2019.
  25. ^ Martinez, Luis; McLaughlin, Elizabeth (November 16, 2019). "Trump issues pardons for 3 service members accused of war crimes". ABC News. Retrieved November 16, 2019.
  26. ^ Philipps, Dave (November 15, 2019). "Trump Clears Three Service Members in War Crimes Cases". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 16, 2019.
  27. ^ Baragona, Justin (July 30, 2019). "Fox News Host Pete Hegseth Accuses Rashida Tlaib of Having a 'Hamas Agenda'". Retrieved August 1, 2019.
  28. ^ Lemon, Jason (August 13, 2019). "Fox News host expresses frustration that young Americans believe in climate change". Newsweek. Retrieved September 26, 2019.
  29. ^ Baragona, Justin (2020-01-03). "Fox Figures Hail Trump's 'Peace Through Strength' After Iran Commander Killed". Retrieved 2020-01-11.
  30. ^ Relman, Eliza. "The Fox host with Trump's ear on military issues urges him to bomb Iranian cultural sites and 'rewrite the rules' of war to be 'advantageous to us'". Business Insider. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
  31. ^ Grynbaum, Michael M.; Abrams, Rachel (2020-03-02). "Right-Wing Media Says Virus Fears Were Whipped Up to Hurt Trump". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-03-09.
  32. ^ Palumbo, Matt (November 5, 2021). "Shemeka Michelle, Robert Cahaly, and Lawrence Jones to Join Unfiltered With Dan Bongino". Retrieved December 1, 2021. and regular Pete Hegseth
  33. ^ Cillizza, Chris (November 29, 2021). "Have you heard the new Republican conspiracy theory about the Omicron variant?". CNN. Retrieved December 1, 2021.
  34. ^ Yilek, Caitlin (August 16, 2019). "Pete Hegseth getting married to Fox colleague at Trump golf club". Washington Examiner. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  35. ^ Goins-Phillips, Tré (April 17, 2019). "'Fox & Friends Weekend' Co-Host Pete Hegseth Talks Faith, Recent Trip to the Holy Land". Faithwire. Retrieved July 31, 2020.
  36. ^ The Case Against the Establishment. Scribd. Retrieved May 15, 2020. (preview includes the forward)
  37. ^ Grossman, Mary (2016-05-08). "Hugh Glass' odyssey revisited in 'Lord Grizzly' reading". Twin Cities Pioneer Press. Retrieved 2021-03-31.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  38. ^ Baragona, Justin (2020-05-22). "Tucker Carlson and Pete Hegseth Try to Bring 'Kung Flu' Back". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2021-03-31.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

External links[edit]