Armen Tooloee

2022 Publius Fellow

What is your current position?

I am currently serving as chief of staff at American Studio, a nonprofit run by Christopher Rufo. In this role, I manage Mr. Rufo’s schedule, our fundraising operations, media relations, partnerships with other organizations and oversee content production—including original reporting on Twitter and op-eds for City Journal and Fox News along with videos for his YouTube channel.

What inspired you to choose this career path?

I was inspired to pursue a career in political activism while serving as president of the College Republicans at the University of Washington. Before I enrolled at UW in 2016, I was not politically engaged, however, I quickly became disturbed by the radical left-wing politics I saw on campus.

During my time at UW, we hosted many high-profile events that attracted attention from the media and Antifa. It was a lot of fun but I was young, naïve, and didn’t realize that my activism would render me practically unemployable anywhere outside of conservative politics. Even knowing that, I would do it all again.

What are you currently working on?

We have a lot of cool projects in the works. In December, we launched Christopher Rufo Theory on YouTube and hope to release several new videos every week. Subscribe 

Our next series of investigative reports will focus on the ideological capture of America’s universities. We plan to highlight the most absurd examples of ideological excess. If you are reading this and think you have a potential scoop from your institution of higher learning, please send us an email at

Finally, we’re building a coalition of policy experts to create a “de-woke-ification” legislative agenda—complete with model bills—that can be implemented in every red state over the next two years.

How did you hear about the Claremont Institute?

I first heard about the Claremont Institute on Twitter. As I became more active on the platform, I began to notice more and more incredibly based people with Claremont in their bio.

Early last year my boss told me about the Publius Fellowship and encouraged me to apply. The rest is history.

What is your fondest memory of the Claremont Institute?

This one is easy. My favorite memory is definitely all of the late-night discussions and debates with my Publius classmates. Almost every night, several of us were up into the wee hours discussing everything under the sun, some of it political and some of it not, over more than a few bottles of rosé.

There are all sorts of educational programs out there for current and rising conservative professionals. What do you think makes the Claremont Institute’s Fellowships unique?

For me, the best part about Claremont’s Fellowships is the sense of community and brotherhood. I believe I will be lifelong friends with my Publius classmates.

Another great thing about Claremont is the disposition of the faculty and fellows. Nearly everyone I have met through Claremont understands the urgency of our political moment, however, they all manage to keep a good sense of humor despite it all.

Who would it be, why, and what would you discuss, if you could have a conversation with an American Founder, or any great thinker?

Hamilton and Madison. I would like to discuss the current state of the regime and how far it has departed from the structure they laid out in The Federalist.

I’d like to know how they would try to correct our course and restore the regime of the Founders.

What would the artifact be, if you could hold one piece of history from the early founding of our country and why?

I would like to hold the musket that fired the first shot at Concord; the proverbial “Shot Heard ‘Round the World.”

That shot is perhaps the most consequential in all of human history and it would feel surreal to hold that musket in my hands.

What do you believe are the three most import issues currently facing the United States and why?

In my opinion, the three most important issues facing the country are immigration, education, and war. Each one poses an existential risk to the nation.

If we are unable to control our borders the nation will collapse. If children continue to be indoctrinated to hate themselves, their families, and America, the nation will collapse.

Perhaps most grave of all is the risk of war with Russia and/or China. As the preeminent nuclear power, we must exercise restraint when dealing with our geopolitical rivals. 

What qualities do you believe will make outstanding statesmen/women in this century?

The most important qualities for an outstanding statesman in this century will be courage and a high pain tolerance. Anyone who dares challenge the current regime will be subjected to the “pain box” (borrowing this phrase from one of my favorite commentators, Darren Beattie). To effect any lasting change, you must stand in the breach and weather the storm. Anyone capable of this will have great courage.

Many conservative commentators believe we are slowly becoming a nation of political will as opposed to a principled nation of law and order.  What are your thoughts on this issue?

I tend to agree and I’d also argue that the transformation is nearly complete. We still have the trappings of law and order but if we’re being honest with ourselves, there is a two-tiered system of criminal justice. Friends of the regime enjoy leniency where enemies of the regime are persecuted. The most obvious example being the disparate treatment of BLM rioters and the January 6th defendants.

Do you believe that a course in ethics and integrity should be taught in every academic institution?  Why?

No, I do not think that is a good idea. The vast majority of academic institutions from K-12 all the way up to graduate schools have been captured by left-wing extremists. I expect the course would be used as political weapon and further poison the minds of young, impressionable students.

What book, speech, or movie has left a lasting impression with you and why?

There are so many it’s hard to choose just one. If I have to choose, I’d say The Lord of the Rings (books and movies). These were the first serious books I read growing up and I think it’s the greatest work of fiction in the English language.

What books are you currently reading?

I’m currently between books. I recently finished Caesar, Life of a Colossus by Adrian Goldsworthy. It is an excellent biography of Julius Caesar and I highly recommend it for any fellow Romanophiles. Studying the fall of the Roman Republic feels especially relevant today.

Next, I plan to reread Machiavelli’s The Prince. I first read the book in high school but I don’t think fully appreciated the significance of it. I’m excited to see what new information I’m able to pick up.

Do you have a favorite quote?  Why does it resonate with you?

“Conquering the world on horseback is easy; it is dismounting and governing that is hard.” – Genghis Khan

While the veracity of this quote is disputed, it still resonates with me for multiple reasons. First, my family claims to be descended from the Great Khan (my surname, Tooloee, is derived from the name of his son Tolui). Second, it speaks to the importance of responsible and prudent statesmanship. Conquering a great empire is one thing but actually stabilizing and governing it poses a much greater challenge.

What is the most distinctive attribute/character of the people in the state where you grew up that you genuinely admire?

I was born and raised in Washington State and have lived here all my life. Outside of Seattle, the people here are generally self-reliant and conscientious which are qualities I admire.

What is your favorite cultural/recreational pastime (or hobby) and why?

I really enjoy lifting. It’s a constructive hobby that allows me to relieve stress while improving myself physically.