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Oligarchs for Theocracy: Project Blitz, the Council for National Policy, and God’s Insurrection

“One nation under God.” It’s a famil­iar phrase for mod­ern Amer­i­cans, even if it was large­ly a con­struct of cor­po­rate Amer­i­ca dur­ing the New Deal to sell the pub­lic on the idea the cap­i­tal­ism and Chris­tian­i­ty are insep­a­ra­ble. But how about the phrase “One nation under God, and one reli­gion under God”? That was the eye­brow-rais­ing call made by Michael Fly­nn dur­ing an appear­ance at the “Reawak­en Amer­i­ca Tour” at John Hagee’s Cor­ner­stone Church back in Novem­ber. And while it would be nice to dis­miss this kind of theo­crat­ic lan­guage as just the lat­est unhinged com­ment from Fly­nn, it turns out the con­cept of “One nation under God, and one reli­gion under God” is much more pop­u­lar than many Amer­i­can’s would like to assume. Pop­u­lar among the right-wing oli­garchy in par­tic­u­lar. Theoc­ra­cy is pop­u­lar with the pow­er­ful. Imag­ine that.

Yes, it’s theoc­ra­cy brought to you by the Koch net­work, with fig­ures like David Bar­ton — long the GOP’s theo­crat of choice — lead­ing the way. That’s what we’re going to be look­ing at in this post. The Koch-ocra­cy isn’t just a cor­po­ra­toc­ra­cy. It’s theo­crat­ic too. And long been so, out in the open. For exam­ple, recall some of the Bar­ton high­lights we’ve seen over the years:

* In 1993, Bar­ton spoke at the Con­cerned Women for Amer­i­ca con­ven­tion about the Chris­t­ian Recon­struc­tion­ist creed. He says that the basis for Amer­i­can laws should be ‘what­ev­er is Chris­t­ian is legal. What­ev­er isn’t Chris­t­ian is ille­gal.’

* In 2011, Bar­ton and Newt Gin­grich cre­at­ed a video that claimed the US Con­sti­tu­tion aws based on the Old Tes­ta­ment.

* In 2012, Bar­ton teamed up with Glenn Beck to write a ‘con­tro­ver­sial’ book about Thomas Jef­fer­son that argued Jef­fer­son was an ortho­dox Chris­t­ian who did not believe in the sep­a­ra­tion of church and state.

* In ear­ly 2013, we learn that Beck and Bar­ton were going to “go Galt” and cre­ate an entire­ly self-sus­tain­ing inde­pen­dent com­mu­ni­ty that would pro­vide all its own food and ener­gy. At the cen­ter, David Bar­ton will cre­ate a giant “nation­al archive”/learning cen­ter where peo­ple can send their chil­dren to be “depro­grammed” and elect­ed offi­cials can come to learn “the truth.” They just need­ed a cool $2 bil­lion to get it start­ed, which obvi­ous­ly did­n’t hap­pen. But that was the plan. Depro­gram­ming cen­ters for chil­dren co-found­ed with Glenn Beck.

* As Ed Kil­go­re not­ed in 2014, Bar­ton real­ly is the unof­fi­cial his­to­ri­an of the GOP’s “Con­sti­tu­tion­al Con­ser­v­a­tive” cau­cus of elect­ed offi­cials, rang­ing from Michelle Bach­mann to Ted Cruz. Recall that this is a glimpse at the pre-Trump GOP, when Cruz and Bach­man­n’s in the GOP — led by Ted Cruz before Trump came along and took over the par­ty — fix­a­tion on Bar­ton that under­scores just how bad faith a cau­cus it tru­ly it. The cau­cus lit­er­al­ly relies on a his­tor­i­cal revi­sion­ist. It’s not like Ted Cruz and Glenn Beck don’t real­ize Bar­ton is ped­dling garbage. They don’t care. It’s part of what makes this move­ment so chill­ing: its a move­ment intent on cap­tur­ing and con­trol­ling the moral­i­ty of a soci­ety led by peo­ple drip­ping with open bad faith

* In 2016, Bar­ton was brought in to run the “Keep the Promise” pro-Ted Cruz super-PAC. It turns out it was Rebekah Mer­cer who brought Bar­ton in for that posi­tion, as part of a pow­er strug­gle over the direc­tion of the PAC with fel­low mega-donor Tony Neubeauer.

That’s just a sam­pling of the pro­found role David Bar­ton has played in facil­i­tat­ing and fos­ter­ing the worst kinds of theo­crat­ic impuls­es of the GOP. And he’s like a god in the GOP.

But this sto­ry isn’t just about the cyn­i­cal reliance of the GOP and the Koch net­work of mega-donors on peo­ple like Bar­ton to push a merg­er of church and stage. As we’re going to see, one of the biggest play­ers in the efforts to over­turn the 2020 elec­tion results was the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy (CNP), a group lit­er­al­ly found­ed in 1981 as a merg­er of tel­e­van­ge­lists, oli­garchs, and Repub­li­can strate­gists to cap­i­tal­ize on Ronald Rea­gan 1980 vic­to­ry and secure their joint agen­da. A joint agen­da of revers­ing advances in civ­il and polit­i­cal rights for women and minori­ties, tax cuts for the wealthy, and polit­i­cal pow­er. For four decades this group of hun­dreds of the most pow­er­ful peo­ple in DC — includ­ing fig­ures like Steve Ban­non and Kellyanne Con­way — have been advanc­ing this cor­po­ratist theo­crat­ic agen­da, cul­mi­nat­ing in a what could only be called pre­emp­tive coup plans for 2020. And yes, David Bar­ton is a CNP mem­ber.

As we’re going to see, CNP mem­bers were some of the most aggres­sive fig­ures in the efforts to find any excuse they could to force the over­turn­ing of the pop­u­lar vote in the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. This includes:

* David Bar­ton: You can find an exam­ple of Bar­ton push­ing the now clas­sic ‘Smart­mat­ic vot­ing machines stole the elec­tion’ sto­ry on Clay Clark’s Thriv­e­time show here. Clark orga­nizes the ReAwak­en Amer­i­ca Tour that Michael Fly­nn was speak­ing at when Fly­nn made his call for ‘One Nation Under One Reli­gion’. In doing so, Bar­ton was giv­ing his bless­ing to the wildest vot­er fraud the­o­ries to a large audi­ence who trusts him.

* Cle­ta Mitchell: A Repub­li­can lawyer who has long oper­at­ed as one of the GOP’s long-stand­ing go-to con­ser­v­a­tive for jus­ti­fy­ing the worst kind of ger­ry­man­der­ing and vot­er sup­pres­sion tac­tics. Recall how Mitchell was sit­ting in on the now noto­ri­ous Jan 2, 2021 phone call Trump made to Geor­gia Sec­re­tary of State Brad Raf­fens­burg­er demand­ing that they “find” the votes he need­ed to win the state, result­ing in Mitchel­l’s law firm effec­tive­ly kick­ing her out of the firm. Mitchel­l’s involve­ment in over­turn­ing the 2020 elec­tion arguably goes back to August of 2019, when she co-chaired a high-lev­el work­ing group that end­ed up advo­cat­ing for rad­i­cal read­ing of the con­sti­tu­tion that would enable state leg­is­la­tures to over­ride the pop­u­lar vote.

* Mark Meck­ler: A CNP Gold Cir­cle mem­ber, Meck­ler co-found­ed the Con­ven­tion of States Action (COS) along with long-time Koch asso­ciate Eric O’Keefe. Recall how the Con­ven­tion of States project is a long-stand Koch-financed effort to trig­ger an Arti­cle V Con­ven­tion of States that threat­ens to rewrite the entire US con­sti­tu­tion. After the CNP took the lead in orga­niz­ing anti-COVID-lock­down protests in states around the US, Meck­ler announced that he was tem­porar­i­ly con­vert­ing the COS into “clear­ing­house where all these guys can find each oth­er.” Oh, and David Bar­ton’s Wall­Builders group is part of the COS effort. Yes, it turns out Bar­ton’s his­tor­i­cal revi­sion­ism comes in handy when one is plan­ning on over­haul­ing the con­sti­tu­tion.

* Lisa Nel­son: The CEO of the Koch-back Amer­i­can Leg­isla­tive Exchange Com­mit­tee (ALEC), Nel­son was at a CNP event in Feb­ru­ary of 2020 — right as the COVID pan­dem­ic was get­ting start­ed — when she informed the group she was already work­ing with GOP attor­neys on meth­ods for over­turn­ing the pop­u­lar vote in the upcom­ing pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. One of the GOP lawyers she told them she was work­ing with was Cle­ta Mitchell.

* Amy Kre­mer: It was Amy and her daugh­ter Kylie who head­ed up the Women for Amer­i­ca First group that end­ed up orga­niz­ing the Jan­u­ary 6 ral­ly at the Ellipse. Recall how Amy and Kylie obtained three ‘burn­er’ cell­phones that were report­ed­ly used for some untrace­able com­mu­ni­ca­tions with a range of fig­ures involved with the Trump White House and var­i­ous ‘Stop the Steal’ efforts.

* Steve Ban­non: Nuff said.

* Ali Alexan­der: Yes, Roger Stone’s acolyte is a CNP mem­ber too! Recall how Stone found­ed StopTheSteal in 2016 to help Trump win the GOP nom­i­na­tion. But Ali Alexan­der became its pub­lic face and leader dur­ing the post-2020 elec­tion peri­od in the lead up to the Jan­u­ary 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion. And as we saw, the Stop the Steal ral­ly out­side the Capi­tol was seen as the more “wild” ral­ly planned for Jan 6 — as opposed to the Women for Amer­i­ca First ral­ly at the Ellipse — and appears to have been the event from which the insur­rec­tion actu­al­ly emerged. Alexan­der was also mak­ing chants of “Vic­to­ry or Death” at the Jan 5 Stop the Steal ral­ly in DC. Michael Fly­nn spoke at that same Jan 5 ral­ly.

And that’s just a sam­pling of the known CNP mem­bers who were tak­ing active steps to ensure Don­ald Trump won the 2020 elec­tion through any means nec­es­sary. Let’s also recall the crit­i­cal role CNP mem­bers Rus­sell J. Ram­s­land and J. Keet Lewis played in the lead up to the insur­rec­tion. Ramsland’s pri­vate intel­li­gence com­pa­ny, Allied Secu­ri­ty Oper­a­tions Group (ASOG), was start­ed in June 2017 by Adam T. Kraft, a for­mer senior offi­cial at the Defense Intel­li­gence Agency. Start­ing in 2018, Ram­s­land became a lead­ing GOP pur­vey­or of mass vot­er fraud alle­ga­tions. And in the days lead­ing up to the insur­rec­tion, Ram­s­land was joined by retired Army colonel and psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare expert Phil Wal­dron as they oper­at­ed in Steve Ban­non’s and Rudy Giu­lian­i’s “war room” oper­at­ing out of the Willard Hotel.

Also note that while Michael Fly­nn isn’t list­ed on any of the leaked CNP mem­ber­ship lists, he did report­ed­ly speak at a 2016 CNP event. And he’s obvi­ous­ly a theo­crat who net­works with oth­er theocrats. It would be sur­pris­ing if Fly­nn was work­ing extreme­ly close­ly with the CNP. At the same time, his open calls for a theoc­ra­cy might make him a lit­tle to ‘hot’ to have a for­mal mem­ber. But there’s no ques­tion Fly­nn and the CNP share an agen­da.

Project Blitz: It’s Like ALEC for Theocracy

But there’s anoth­er aspect to this sto­ry of the grow­ing theo­crat­ic ambi­tions of this net­work: Project Blitz. Launched in 2015, Project Blitz is like the ALEC of theoc­ra­cy, oper­at­ing as a ‘bill mill’ focused on gen­er­at­ing mod­el leg­is­la­tion designed to be used by fed­er­al and state leg­is­la­tor to fur­ther this same theo­crat­ic agen­da. A bill mill lit­er­al­ly ded­i­cat­ed to get­ting Chris­tian­i­ty enshrined in law as the US’s moral foun­da­tion with spe­cial legal pro­tec­tions for peo­ple act­ing accord­ing to those beliefs.

Run by the Con­gres­sion­al Prayer Cau­cus Foun­da­tion, Project Blitz works in con­cert with David Bar­ton’s Wall­Builders. It also turns out the sole employ­ee of the Con­gres­sion­al Prayer Cau­cus Foun­da­tion, Lee Carawan, is a CNP mem­ber too, along with her hus­band Rolfe. She sits on the Project Blitz steer­ing com­mit­tee

Project Blitz is being exe­cut­ed using a three-tiered strat­e­gy. The first tier focus­es on push­ing bills that pro­tect prayer in school and oth­er pub­lic spaces. The sec­ond tier aims at get­ting the gov­ern­ment involved in active­ly “Chris­tian­iz­ing” Amer­i­ca. The third tier then works on laws that “pro­tect” reli­gious beliefs and prac­tices. Specif­i­cal­ly big­ot­ed beliefs and prac­tices. It’s lit­er­al­ly a vision where con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­tians get spe­cial legal­ly pro­tect­ed rights to be big­ots that no oth­er group would get, based on a vision of the US as a divine­ly found­ed nation that should be fol­low­ing some form of Bib­li­cal law. Extra rights for Chris­tians. Con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­tians in par­tic­u­lar. As we’ll see, David Bar­ton and many of the rest of these fig­ures are fol­low­ers of Sev­en Moun­tain Domin­ion­ism — a sect of Chris­tian­i­ty that believes it is up to Chris­tians to take polit­i­cal pow­er before Jesus will return — and that’s the kind of Chris­tian­i­ty that will demand com­plete con­for­mi­ty when it takes pow­er. Con­for­mi­ty that will be defined, in part, by the the­o­log­i­cal whims of promi­nent reli­gious lead­ers. A true merg­er of church and state real­ly is what they have in mind. As researcher Fred­er­ick Clark­son put it, the theo­crat­ic end they envi­sion is chill­ing­ly akin to The Hand­maid­’s Tale.

And as we’re also going to see, despite some set­backs, like the insur­rec­tion not work­ing , Project Blitz is mov­ing ahead. The ‘bill mill’ is active and work­ing. So when we’re forced to ask “what’s next?” fol­low­ing what amount­ed to an orga­nized attempt to over­turn the 2020 elec­tion by Amer­i­ca’s lead­ing theocrats, part of the sad answer is “more Pro­ject­Blitz-ing”. That’s what’s next. The attempt­ed theft of the elec­tion and insur­rec­tion is just a once-every-four-years thing. Project Blitz nev­er stops. It’s always what’s next.

It’s that broad­er sto­ry of the long­stand­ing and ongo­ing theo­crat­ic pow­er grab, a cor­po­ratist theo­crat­ic pow­er grab, that we’re going to cov­er in this post. A pow­er grab that arguably start­ed with the for­ma­tion of the CNP on 1981 and cul­mi­nat­ed in the 2020 push to over­turn the elec­tion, capped off with the Jan­u­ary 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion. A pow­er grab that was­n’t actu­al­ly slowed by the fail­ure of the insur­rec­tion. The insur­rec­tion was foment­ed by peo­ple so peo­ple already they could pull off a coup attempt, fail, and still large­ly face no reper­cus­sions. Project Blitz con­tin­ues while the CNP push­es new vot­er sup­pres­sion ini­tia­tives across the US. Onward Chris­t­ian sol­dier.

A Look at God’s Plan. A Plan for More Prayer. Specific Prayer. And Lower Taxes

Ok, so here’s a review of our look at this ongo­ing theo­crat­ic net­work. A net­work play­ing a key role in both col­laps­ing the sep­a­ra­tion of church and state and col­laps­ing the pub­lic’s faith in the integri­ty of US elec­tions.

* Novem­ber 21, 2021: Michael Fly­nn and the Chris­t­ian Right’s Plan to Turn Amer­i­ca Into a Theoc­ra­cy:

Michael Fly­n­n’s call for “One nation under God, and one reli­gion under God,” at the “Reawak­en Amer­i­ca Tour” vis­it to John Hagee’s Cor­ner­stone Church in San Anto­nio, TX, was­n’t just the lat­est exam­ple of Fly­nn trans­gress­ing a line of demo­c­ra­t­ic decen­cy. It was Fly­nn reflect­ing a grow­ing open­ness on the Chris­t­ian right to talk about unde­mo­c­ra­t­ic mea­sures. Includ­ing vio­lence. It also reflect­ed a notable lev­el of sup­port for view­ing the US as a fun­da­men­tal­ly Chris­t­ian nation found across the US pop­u­lace. As of August 2021, a nation­al Pub­lic Dis­course and Ethics sur­vey found that 39 per­cent of Amer­i­cans agree that the found­ing doc­u­ments are divine­ly inspired, 34 per­cent believe that the suc­cess of Amer­i­ca is part of God’s plan, and 25 per­cent believe that the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment should go ahead and for­mal­ly declare the U.S. a Chris­t­ian nation.

* Novem­ber 16, 2021: If you’re pay­ing atten­tion to Chris­t­ian nation­al­ism, you won’t be shocked by Michael Flynn’s call for ‘one reli­gion under God’:

As the Bap­tist News also observed fol­low­ing Michael Fly­n­n’s call for “One nation under God, and one reli­gion under God,” Fly­nn was­n’t just echo­ing the gen­er­al pop­u­lar­i­ty in the idea for the idea of for­mal­ly declar­ing the US a Chris­t­ian coun­try. Fly­nn was artic­u­lat­ing the ratio­nale behind Project Blitz, the Chris­t­ian far right’s cur­rent polit­i­cal project ded­i­cat­ed to for­mal­ly mak­ing the US a Chris­t­ian nation, with spe­cial Chris­t­ian pro­tec­tions. Spe­cial pro­tec­tions that trans­late into real polit­i­cal pow­er.

* Sept 28, 2015: Prayer Cau­cus, fund­ed by tax­pay­ers, defends faith in the pub­lic square:

In 2015, USA Today ran a piece on the par­ent orga­ni­za­tion oper­ates Project Blitz. The Con­gres­sion­al Prayer Cau­cus’s non-prof­it, The Con­gres­sion­al Prayer Cau­cus Foun­da­tion, launched Project Blitz in 2016. It’s a tiny oper­a­tion in terms of per­son­nel, with just one paid employ­ee, Lea Carawan, who sits on the Project Blitz steer­ing com­mit­tee. Both Lea and her hus­band Rolfe are mem­bers of the CNP.

* April 13, 2019: The plot against Amer­i­ca: Inside the Chris­t­ian right plan to “remod­el” the nation:

A clos­er look at Project Blitz and the role ‘his­to­ri­an’ David Bar­ton plays in the project. Project Blitz is more or less a three-part plan to enshrine Bar­ton’s his­tor­i­cal­ly warped vision of the found­ing of the US. And at the heart of that three-part plan is an ALEC-like ded­i­ca­tion to oper­at­ing a ‘bill mill’ of mod­el leg­is­la­tion that can be passed along leg­is­la­tors around the nation. It’s why Project Blitz can be so influ­en­tial with just a hand­ful of staff. You don’t need a large num­ber of peo­ple to run a bill mill.

* August 11, 2012: David Bar­ton, Chris­t­ian Schol­ar, Faces a Back­lash:

A look back a brief moment when it appeared David Bar­ton’s star may have fall­en. He was so pop­u­lar back in 2011 that Mike Huck­abee intro­duced Bar­ton at an event by declar­ing, “I almost wish that there would be some­thing like a simul­ta­ne­ous tele­cast and all Amer­i­cans would be forced, forced—at gun­point, no less—to lis­ten to every David Bar­ton mes­sage. And I think our coun­try would be bet­ter for it.” But in 2012, Bar­ton faced a back­lash. This was after a num­ber of con­ser­v­a­tive his­to­ri­ans actu­al­ly took a look at the garbage con­tent Bar­ton was churn­ing out and pub­licly scold­ed him. Now, as time told, Bar­ton’s fall from grace was brief at most. He helped found Project Blitz after this, after all. The whole episode is emblem­at­ic of the role Bar­ton has played through­out his career: he’s warm­ly embraced no mat­ter how much garbage he gets caught spew­ing out because it’s garbage pow­er­ful peo­ple want to hear.

* May 5, 2011: David Bar­ton – Extrem­ist ‘His­to­ri­an’ for the Chris­t­ian Right:

Anoth­er quick look back at the extrem­ist roots of David Bar­ton in this 2011 SPLC Bar­ton pro­file. Yes, it turns out Bar­ton was giv­ing talks at the events of known Chris­t­ian Iden­ti­ty groups in the ear­ly 90s. That’s where he began his the­o­log­i­cal career. Today, Bar­ton’s the­ol­o­gy is that of the Sev­en Moun­tains Domin­ion­ism, a strain of Chris­tian­i­ty that calls for the church to take polit­i­cal con­trol over sev­en dif­fer­ent spheres of soci­ety before Jesus will return. It’s basi­cal­ly a recipe for a full blown theoc­ra­cy. And also the kind of the­ol­o­gy oli­garchs love: unions, min­i­mum wage laws, and envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tions are are bib­li­cal­ly pro­hib­it­ed under Bar­ton’s form of Chris­tian­i­ty.

* August 23, 2019: Con­ven­tion of States Fires Up Base for Push to Rewrite U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion:

Not lim­it­ed to pro­vid­ing the­o­log­i­cal jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for the merg­er of church and state, David Bar­ton has been work­ing on anoth­er project that would destroy the US: the Con­ven­tion of States (COS) project. As we’ve seen, the Koch net­work of mega-donors has spent decades invest­ing in trig­ger­ing an Arti­cle V Con­sti­tu­tion­al Con­ven­tion, threat­en­ing to rewrite the con­sti­tu­tion accord­ing to the whims of the Koch mega-donor net­work Bar­ton’s Wall­Builders group has been work­ing with COS, co-found­ed by Mark Meck­ler. Yes, Meck­ler is a CNP mem­ber.

* Feb 22, 2021: How the CNP, a Repub­li­can Pow­er­house, Helped Spawn Trump­ism, Dis­rupt­ed the Trans­fer of Pow­er, and Stoked the Assault on the Capi­tol:

Almost a year ago, The Wash­ing­ton Spec­ta­tor gave us a mas­sive pro­file on one of the most impor­tant orga­ni­za­tion oper­at­ing in DC, the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy (CNP), and the role it played in foment­ing a vari­ety of actions and pro­pa­gan­da designed to con­vince the pub­lic the elec­tion was stolen from Trump and jus­ti­fy the rever­sal of the elec­tion result. The arti­cle describes how the CNP kicked into action as the pan­dem­ic go under­way, pro­vid­ing the White House with a list of 100 busi­ness exec­u­tives who could help guide the White House through kick­start­ing the pan­dem­ic-strick­en econ­o­my. Those actions appeared to most­ly focus on whip­ping up pub­lic oppo­si­tion to anti-COVID pub­lic health mea­sures. But even before the CNP was run­ning its anti-anti-COVID oper­a­tion, key CNP fig­ures like Cle­ta Mitchell and Lisa Nel­son were active­ly plan­ning with groups like ALEC for avenues of over­turn­ing the pop­u­lar vote in the upcom­ing elec­tion.

* July 24, 2021: The Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist assault on democ­ra­cy goes stealth — but the push­back is work­ing:

A July 2021 update on Project Blitz, at that point a rough­ly five year old project. And a much slick­er and more ambi­tious project, with Project Blitz giv­ing ‘bill mill’ advice on how to cloak the intent of the mod­el leg­is­la­tion in sec­u­lar-sound­ing lan­guage. Project Blitz also dis­cov­ered the potent polit­i­cal pow­er of fus­ing its agen­da of grant­i­ng legal pro­tec­tions to con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­tians with hot-but­ton top­ics like trans­gen­der youth or “crit­i­cal race the­o­ry” (CRT) in schools and libraries. Keep in mind this update came sev­er­al months before Repub­li­can Glenn Younk­in’s CRT-fueled vic­to­ry in the Vir­ginia gov­er­nor’s race.

* Decem­ber 14, 2021: The net­work of elec­tion lawyers who are mak­ing it hard­er for Amer­i­cans to vote:

Final­ly, we’re look at a report from a few weeks ago about a crack team of GOP lawyers work­ing with ALEC and spear­head­ing vot­er sup­pres­sion mod­el leg­is­la­tion for use by state leg­is­la­tor. In oth­er words, a vot­er sup­pres­sion bill mill. Of the five lawyers list­ed as spear­head­ing this effort, three are known mem­bers of the CNP: Cle­ta Mitchell, J Chris­t­ian Adams, and Ken­neth Black­well. Yes, Mitchell is con­tin­u­ing her vot­er sup­pres­sion work despite being kicked out of her law firm for gross mal­prac­tice in rela­tion to her base­less vot­er fraud claims. The oth­er two law­ers are Jason Snead and Hans von Spakovksy. As we’ve seen, Snead and Adams have a fair­ly recent his­to­ry of work­ing togeth­er on vot­er sup­pres­sion experts (with both end­ed up get­ting chas­tised by judges for their inac­cu­rate tes­ti­monies). And Spakovksy is one of the GOP’s long-stand vot­er sup­pres­sion gurus. Mitchell, Adams, and Spakovksy all attend­ed a secret Decem­ber 1 ALEC meet­ing where they strate­gized their vot­er sup­pres­sion plans going for­ward.

Michael Flynn Call for “One nation under God, and one religion under God.”

Ok, first, here’s a Rolling Stone piece writ­ten about week after Michael Fly­nn made his jar­ring speech at the “Reawak­en Amer­i­ca Tour” at John Hagee’s Cor­ner­stone Church in San Anto­nio, TX, open­ly call­ing for the Unit­ed States to for­mal­ly become a Chris­t­ian nation. As the piece points out, it was­n’t jar­ring because of the con­tent of Fly­n­n’s speech. It was jar­ring because Fly­nn appar­ent­ly felt com­fort­able open­ly mak­ing this call, reflect­ing what is a pal­pa­ble grow­ing rad­i­cal­iza­tion of Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist move­ments. Accord­ing to a Pub­lic Reli­gion Research Insti­tute study pub­lished in Novem­ber, 26 per­cent of white evan­gel­i­cal Protes­tants (and 30 per­cent of Repub­li­cans) agree that “true Amer­i­can patri­ots may have to resort to vio­lence if that’s what it takes to save the coun­try.” That’s paired with polling from August 2021 that found 39 per­cent of Amer­i­cans agree that the found­ing doc­u­ments are divine­ly inspired, 34 per­cent believe that the suc­cess of Amer­i­ca is part of God’s plan, and 25 per­cent believe that the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment should go ahead and for­mal­ly declare the U.S. a Chris­t­ian nation. That’s what made Michael Fly­n­n’s speech so jar­ring. When he called for an offi­cial state reli­gion, he was speak­ing for A LOT of oth­er peo­ple:

Rolling Stone

Michael Fly­nn and the Chris­t­ian Right’s Plan to Turn Amer­i­ca Into a Theoc­ra­cy

As Alex Jones put it, “We’re gonna win in the end because… God WINS!”

By Alex Mor­ris
Novem­ber 21, 2021 12:05 PM ET

This past week­end, infa­mous FBI fib­ber Michael Fly­nn stood on a stage at Cor­ner­stone Church in San Anto­nio and spoke his truth: “If we are going to have one nation under God, which we must, we have to have one reli­gion. One nation under God, and one reli­gion under God.” Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist mic drop. He’d final­ly said the qui­et part out loud.

Which, to be fair, was maybe not even the cra­zi­est thing that hap­pened at Cor­ner­stone last week­end as it host­ed pod­cast host Clay Clark’s “Reawak­en Amer­i­ca Tour” — a shit­show so very spec­tac­u­lar that Cor­ner­stone, the church of famed end times Chris­t­ian Zion­ist John Hagee, had to release a face-sav­ing state­ment say­ing that maybe, just maybe, things had gone a lit­tle too far even for them (“Cor­ner­stone Church is not asso­ci­at­ed with this orga­ni­za­tion and does not endorse their views.”) There was a woman wear­ing a Jew­ish-themed prayer shawl and blow­ing on a ram’s horn, because, as she explained it, “Demons trem­ble at the sound of the sho­far.” There was My Pil­low CEO Mike Lin­dell and dis­graced polit­i­cal oper­a­tive Roger Stone on hand to pro­vide the event with a legit­i­mate dose of ille­git­i­ma­cy. There was Alex Jones growl­ing at atten­dees that “the devil’s reign on this plan­et is com­ing to an end” and that Bill Gates and Hillary Clin­ton and Barack Oba­ma know that “they chose SATAN! AND THEY! ARE GOING! TO FAIL!” There were rous­ing rounds of the odd­ly-devised anti-Biden chant “Let’s go, Bran­don” and wor­ship music pro­vid­ed by Sean Feucht, gra­cious­ly in atten­dance thanks to his failed run for California’s state leg­is­la­ture. There was also, pre­sum­ably, nary a vac­ci­nat­ed per­son in the house.

But Flynn’s state­ments were notable not just because the qui­et part was said out loud but because the qui­et part has been get­ting loud­er and loud­er, with polit­i­cal and reli­gious lead­ers call­ing explic­it­ly for what amounts to a theoc­ra­cy. Just last month, Ohio GOP Sen­ate can­di­date Josh Man­del used the debate stage to opine that “we should be instill­ing faith in the class­room, in the work­place, and every­where in soci­ety” because, as far as he’s con­cerned, “there’s no such thing as a sep­a­ra­tion of church and state.” (“We stand with Gen­er­al Fly­nn,” Man­del tweet­ed on Sat­ur­day.) Last year, Bill Barr informed the Nation­al Catholic Prayer Break­fast that, to the extent such a sep­a­ra­tion does exist, it’s thanks to “mil­i­tant sec­u­lar­ists” who don’t under­stand that Amer­i­ca would be bet­ter off if we just let Chris­tians run the show. “It’s been a while since peo­ple were will­ing to say so loud­ly and so pub­licly that Amer­i­ca is a Chris­t­ian nation,” says Philip Gors­ki, a soci­ol­o­gist of reli­gion at Yale. “You didn’t hear George Bush, senior or junior, say­ing any­thing like that. Cer­tain­ly they had a way of allud­ing to Chris­t­ian ele­ments of the Amer­i­can exper­i­ment, and they could speak to Chris­tians in a lan­guage that was a lit­tle bit veiled. But they nev­er would have said any­thing like what Michael Fly­nn said the oth­er day—surely not in pub­lic and prob­a­bly not even in pri­vate.”

Nat­u­ral­ly this kind of Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist talk ruf­fles major feath­ers, and with good rea­son. It sounds crazy because it is crazy. What would a for­mal­ly Chris­t­ian Amer­i­ca actu­al­ly look like? How would it be achieved? How would it get around the Con­sti­tu­tion? Which ver­sion of Chris­tian­i­ty would we use? And what would we do with the mil­lions of cit­i­zens who hap­pen to dis­be­lieve in that “one reli­gion under God?”

On the sur­face, such ques­tions may seem like a log­i­cal retort to Flynn’s, but they also dis­tort the fun­da­men­tal issue. In point­ing out the imprac­ti­cal­i­ties of the logis­tics, such ques­tions basi­cal­ly imply that Fly­nn can’t real­ly mean what he’s say­ing. “Hell yes, he means it,” says Anthea But­ler, pro­fes­sor of reli­gion at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia and author of White Evan­gel­i­cal Racism. “And whether or not he means it, some­body hear­ing it will mean it and believe it. What mat­ters is that it’s being said, and some­body is receiv­ing that mes­sage.”

More to the point, some­body is out there look­ing to receive it. The mes­sage that Amer­i­ca should be a Chris­t­ian nation, tak­en quite lit­er­al­ly, is foun­da­tion­al to the Chris­t­ian right. It is not a fringe belief but rather a ral­ly­ing cry, the prin­ci­ple that ani­mates — and excus­es — their for­ay into the messy polit­i­cal realm, into the low­ly things of this world. Accord­ing to Matthew 25:31–46, when Jesus returns to earth, “All the nations will be gath­ered, and he will sep­a­rate them one from anoth­er, as a shep­herd sep­a­rates the sheep from the goats.” In this so-called Judg­ment of the Nations, god­ly coun­tries will be reward­ed and ungod­ly ones pun­ished, which means that in a con­ser­v­a­tive Christian’s mind, their own fate may in some way be wrapped up in the U.S.’s rela­tion to cer­tain wedge issues like abor­tion or LGBTQ rights. That, in turn, goes a long way toward explain­ing why, in 2018, 61 per­cent of evan­gel­i­cals said the coun­try was head­ed in the right direc­tion while 64 per­cent of every­one else begged to dif­fer.

Though theo­crat­ic views range from a desire to sim­ply elect “god­ly” lead­ers to a mil­i­tant call for a nation-state gov­erned entire­ly by Old Tes­ta­ment law (includ­ing a return to the prac­tice of ston­ing), some form of theo­crat­ic think­ing now runs through a large swath of the pop­u­lace. As of August 2021, a nation­al Pub­lic Dis­course and Ethics sur­vey found that 39 per­cent of Amer­i­cans agree that the found­ing doc­u­ments are divine­ly inspired, 34 per­cent believe that the suc­cess of Amer­i­ca is part of God’s plan, and 25 per­cent believe that the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment should go ahead and for­mal­ly declare the U.S. a Chris­t­ian nation.

That desire may be ahistorical—most founders were clear that a theoc­ra­cy was exact­ly what they did not want—but it has per­va­sive­ly pep­pered Amer­i­can his­to­ry. One of the Confederacy’s com­plaints when seced­ing was that the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion did not suf­fi­cient­ly namecheck God — a con­cern that was appar­ent­ly shared by some in the Union. In 1864, a del­e­ga­tion of the Nation­al Reform Asso­ci­a­tion (the OG NRA) met with Lin­coln to request the addi­tion of a Chris­t­ian amend­ment to the doc­u­ment “humbly acknowl­edg­ing Almighty God as the source of author­i­ty and pow­er in civ­il gov­ern­ment, the Lord Jesus Christ as the ruler among nations.” Lin­coln polite­ly blew them off, but the idea gained trac­tion again after the school prayer rul­ings in the 1960s, and again after R.J. Rush­doony pub­lished his Insti­tutes of Bib­li­cal Law in 1973, advo­cat­ing not just Amer­i­can theoc­ra­cy but an even more hard­core theon­o­my — a nation gov­erned by bib­li­cal law.

If there is any­thing dif­fer­ent this time around, it’s in the vio­lence of the rhetoric. Here, there are no gen­teel del­e­ga­tions or aca­d­e­m­ic tomes. In indis­crim­i­nate­ly pulling the fringi­est ele­ments of Amer­i­can Chris­tian­i­ty into his polit­i­cal coali­tion, Trump meld­ed theo­crat­ic think­ing with reli­gious rad­i­cal­iza­tion. The effect? Accord­ing to a Pub­lic Reli­gion Research Insti­tute study pub­lished ear­ly this month, 26 per­cent of white evan­gel­i­cal Protes­tants (and 30 per­cent of Repub­li­cans) agree that “true Amer­i­can patri­ots may have to resort to vio­lence if that’s what it takes to save the coun­try.” For the atten­dees of Reawake Amer­i­ca, civ­il war is now a quaint con­cept; Holy War is more what they’re after these days. Or as Alex Jones put it this week­end, “We’re gonna win in the end because…God WINS!”

Which is why, among reli­gious schol­ars, there’s a grow­ing frus­tra­tion with the con­stant pearl-clutch­ing over what some­one like Fly­nn might say paired with an osten­si­ble lack of belief that he real­ly, lit­er­al­ly means it. Like­wise, and espe­cial­ly after Jan­u­ary 6, there’s a grow­ing frus­tra­tion with a polit­i­cal fac­tion that believes it is fight­ing on the side of the angels going up against a polit­i­cal fac­tion that still oper­ates like a com­pro­mise can be made. “I mean, I want infra­struc­ture,” says But­ler. “I’m sick of the pot­holes in Philadel­phia. But nobody seems to under­stand the real dan­ger. It’s nice to build bridges, but you’re build­ing bridges for them to come and get you.”

Per­haps the real motives of those like Fly­nn can be seen when one takes into account the fact that theoc­ra­cy actu­al­ly runs counter to the sort of faith these folks pro­fess to espouse. “What con­founds me is that under­min­ing the First Amend­ment, under­min­ing the sep­a­ra­tion of church and state, real­ly is an attack on reli­gion in Amer­i­can life,” says Ran­dall Balmer, an Epis­co­pal priest and his­to­ri­an of Amer­i­can reli­gion at Dart­mouth Col­lege. “The effect of the First Amend­ment was to estab­lish a free mar­ket­place for reli­gion that has lent an ener­gy and a dynamism to reli­gion in Amer­i­ca unmatched any­where in the world. Why would those groups that have ben­e­fit­ed most from this marketplace—namely evan­gel­i­cals because they know how to com­pete bet­ter than any­one else—turn around and try to under­mine the very sys­tem that has giv­en them so much cur­ren­cy in the cul­ture?”

One answer could be that the cul­ture — the mar­ket­place of pub­lic opin­ion — no longer mat­ters to the Chris­t­ian right. This is no longer a hum­ble com­pe­ti­tion for souls. This is about pow­er. And, quite pos­si­bly, vio­lence. “There needs to be some kind of under­stand­ing when this kind of lan­guage ramps up that you have to pay atten­tion to that,” says But­ler. “Hon­est­ly, we’ve got jihadists in this coun­try. They’re just Chris­t­ian ones.” It’s the threat of vio­lence implic­it in Flynn’s words — rather than the explic­it absur­di­ty — that we should care about.

...

———–

“Michael Fly­nn and the Chris­t­ian Right’s Plan to Turn Amer­i­ca Into a Theoc­ra­cy” by Alex Mor­ris; Rolling Stone; 11/21/2021

But Flynn’s state­ments were notable not just because the qui­et part was said out loud but because the qui­et part has been get­ting loud­er and loud­er, with polit­i­cal and reli­gious lead­ers call­ing explic­it­ly for what amounts to a theoc­ra­cy. Just last month, Ohio GOP Sen­ate can­di­date Josh Man­del used the debate stage to opine that “we should be instill­ing faith in the class­room, in the work­place, and every­where in soci­ety” because, as far as he’s con­cerned, “there’s no such thing as a sep­a­ra­tion of church and state.” (“We stand with Gen­er­al Fly­nn,” Man­del tweet­ed on Sat­ur­day.) Last year, Bill Barr informed the Nation­al Catholic Prayer Break­fast that, to the extent such a sep­a­ra­tion does exist, it’s thanks to “mil­i­tant sec­u­lar­ists” who don’t under­stand that Amer­i­ca would be bet­ter off if we just let Chris­tians run the show. “It’s been a while since peo­ple were will­ing to say so loud­ly and so pub­licly that Amer­i­ca is a Chris­t­ian nation,” says Philip Gors­ki, a soci­ol­o­gist of reli­gion at Yale. “You didn’t hear George Bush, senior or junior, say­ing any­thing like that. Cer­tain­ly they had a way of allud­ing to Chris­t­ian ele­ments of the Amer­i­can exper­i­ment, and they could speak to Chris­tians in a lan­guage that was a lit­tle bit veiled. But they nev­er would have said any­thing like what Michael Fly­nn said the oth­er day—surely not in pub­lic and prob­a­bly not even in pri­vate.””

Yes, when Michael Fly­nn called for “One nation under God, and one reli­gion under God”, he was­n’t just say­ing the qui­et part out loud. He was join­ing a grow­ing cho­rus of peo­ple mak­ing sim­i­lar calls. For­mal­ly end­ing the sep­a­ra­tion of Church and State is an increas­ing­ly pop­u­lar idea in the Unit­ed States.

But it’s not just that a grow­ing num­ber of US con­ser­v­a­tives are open to the idea of end­ing the sep­a­ra­tion of church and state. It’s that this same demo­graph­ic is also increas­ing­ly open to the idea of using polit­i­cal vio­lence to secure polit­i­cal pow­er per­ma­nent­ly. It’s a par­tic­u­lar­ly potent con­ver­gence of author­i­tar­i­an impuls­es:

...
Though theo­crat­ic views range from a desire to sim­ply elect “god­ly” lead­ers to a mil­i­tant call for a nation-state gov­erned entire­ly by Old Tes­ta­ment law (includ­ing a return to the prac­tice of ston­ing), some form of theo­crat­ic think­ing now runs through a large swath of the pop­u­lace. As of August 2021, a nation­al Pub­lic Dis­course and Ethics sur­vey found that 39 per­cent of Amer­i­cans agree that the found­ing doc­u­ments are divine­ly inspired, 34 per­cent believe that the suc­cess of Amer­i­ca is part of God’s plan, and 25 per­cent believe that the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment should go ahead and for­mal­ly declare the U.S. a Chris­t­ian nation.

That desire may be ahistorical—most founders were clear that a theoc­ra­cy was exact­ly what they did not want—but it has per­va­sive­ly pep­pered Amer­i­can his­to­ry. One of the Confederacy’s com­plaints when seced­ing was that the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion did not suf­fi­cient­ly namecheck God — a con­cern that was appar­ent­ly shared by some in the Union. In 1864, a del­e­ga­tion of the Nation­al Reform Asso­ci­a­tion (the OG NRA) met with Lin­coln to request the addi­tion of a Chris­t­ian amend­ment to the doc­u­ment “humbly acknowl­edg­ing Almighty God as the source of author­i­ty and pow­er in civ­il gov­ern­ment, the Lord Jesus Christ as the ruler among nations.” Lin­coln polite­ly blew them off, but the idea gained trac­tion again after the school prayer rul­ings in the 1960s, and again after R.J. Rush­doony pub­lished his Insti­tutes of Bib­li­cal Law in 1973, advo­cat­ing not just Amer­i­can theoc­ra­cy but an even more hard­core theon­o­my — a nation gov­erned by bib­li­cal law.

If there is any­thing dif­fer­ent this time around, it’s in the vio­lence of the rhetoric. Here, there are no gen­teel del­e­ga­tions or aca­d­e­m­ic tomes. In indis­crim­i­nate­ly pulling the fringi­est ele­ments of Amer­i­can Chris­tian­i­ty into his polit­i­cal coali­tion, Trump meld­ed theo­crat­ic think­ing with reli­gious rad­i­cal­iza­tion. The effect? Accord­ing to a Pub­lic Reli­gion Research Insti­tute study pub­lished ear­ly this month, 26 per­cent of white evan­gel­i­cal Protes­tants (and 30 per­cent of Repub­li­cans) agree that “true Amer­i­can patri­ots may have to resort to vio­lence if that’s what it takes to save the coun­try.” For the atten­dees of Reawake Amer­i­ca, civ­il war is now a quaint con­cept; Holy War is more what they’re after these days. Or as Alex Jones put it this week­end, “We’re gonna win in the end because…God WINS!”
...

It’s that con­ver­gence of author­i­tar­i­an impuls­es that we’re going to be focus­ing on in the rest of this post. A con­ver­gence of author­i­tar­i­an impuls­es is hap­pen­ing at the high­est lev­els of real polit­i­cal pow­er. And as we’re going to see, while some man­i­fes­ta­tions of these author­i­tar­i­an impuls­es are rel­a­tive­ly new, the orga­ni­za­tions and net­works behind it are so deeply embed­ded in the US polit­i­cal estab­lish­ment that you almost can’t dis­tin­guish between these move­ments and the broad­er Repub­li­can Par­ty. A fusion of the Koch mega-donor net­work with the pow­er­ful Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy (CNP), an orga­ni­za­tion that itself was formed in 1981 as a coali­tion of busi­ness inter­ests and the reli­gious right. The most pow­er­ful net­works inside the Repub­li­can Par­ty and the broad­er con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment in the US have aligned around and agen­da of per­ma­nent­ly cap­tur­ing polit­i­cal pow­er under the ban­ner of pre­serv­ing Chris­tian­i­ty in Amer­i­ca. That’s who Michael Fly­nn was speak­ing to when he made that call for the US to fall under one reli­gion. The reli­gious of pow­er.

Project Blitz: Stealth Theocracy, ALEC-style, Brought to You by the Congressional Prayer Caucus

And as the fol­low­ing piece in Bap­tist News points out, when Michael Fly­nn made that call for “One nation under God and one reli­gion under God”, he was­n’t just echo­ing a grow­ing gen­er­al sen­ti­ment with­in the Chris­t­ian evan­gel­i­cal com­mu­ni­ty. He was artic­u­lat­ing the ratio­nale behind Project Blitz, the Chris­t­ian far right’s cur­rent polit­i­cal project ded­i­cat­ed to for­mal­ly mak­ing the US a Chris­t­ian nation, with spe­cial Chris­t­ian pro­tec­tions. Spe­cial pro­tec­tions that trans­late into real polit­i­cal pow­er. Project Blitz is basi­cal­ly the Amer­i­can Leg­isla­tive Exchange Coun­sel (ALEC) for Chris­t­ian Nation­al­ists: the group oper­ates as a ‘bill mill’, cre­at­ing tem­plate leg­is­la­tion for wide­spread use by state leg­is­la­tors. And as we’re going to see, it’s not just that Project Blitz is mod­eled after ALEC. It’s effec­tive­ly the same net­work of con­ser­v­a­tive power­bro­kers behind both net­works. That’s why Michael Fly­n­n’s tar­get audi­ence for the ‘one reli­gion under God’ com­ment was­n’t just Chris­t­ian con­ser­v­a­tives. That tar­get audi­ence includ­ed the cor­po­rate pow­er bro­kers best posi­tioned to cap­i­tal­ize and prof­it from a Chris­t­ian Nation­al­ist rev­o­lu­tion:

Bap­tist News

If you’re pay­ing atten­tion to Chris­t­ian nation­al­ism, you won’t be shocked by Michael Flynn’s call for ‘one reli­gion under God’

Opin­ion Aman­da Tyler
Novem­ber 16, 2021

At a ral­ly in San Anto­nio as part of the “ReAwak­en Amer­i­ca” tour, for­mer Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Advis­er Michael Fly­nn said the qui­et part out loud: “If we are going to have one nation under God, which we must, we have to have one reli­gion. One nation under God and one reli­gion under God.”

His week­end state­ment sent shock­waves over social media, but for those of us who have been watch­ing the accel­er­a­tion of Chris­t­ian nation­al­ism over the past sev­er­al years, the admis­sion was hard­ly sur­pris­ing. It echoes explic­it efforts that would dam­age our democ­ra­cy.

Such lan­guage, empha­siz­ing non-spe­cif­ic reli­gious lan­guage in offi­cial set­tings, is not sim­ply a mis­guid­ed appeal to patri­o­tism or nation­al uni­ty. Project Blitz, a project of the Con­gres­sion­al Prayer Cau­cus Foun­da­tion, explained the ratio­nale behind a mod­el bill for states to man­date the post­ing of “In God We Trust” in pub­lic schools: “More than just a mot­to, though, it is our country’s foun­da­tion and an impor­tant part of our iden­ti­ty as Amer­i­cans.”

Flynn’s longer speech reveals how much he relies on one of the hall­marks of Chris­t­ian nation­al­ism — the empha­sis of a myth­i­cal his­to­ry of the Unit­ed States as found­ed as a “Chris­t­ian nation,” by God’s prov­i­den­tial hand that gives our coun­try a spe­cial place in his­to­ry, the present and a pre­mil­len­ni­al­ist future. “There is a time, and you have to believe this: that God Almighty is like involved in this coun­try because this is it. This is it. This is the last place on Earth. This is, this is the shin­ing city on the hill,” he said.

The reli­gious ref­er­ence of “one nation under God” in the Pledge of Alle­giance since the 1950s acknowl­edges reli­gion as part of our country’s his­to­ry but cer­tain­ly does not negate our country’s pro­tec­tions for reli­gious free­dom or give the gov­ern­ment (much less Michael Fly­nn) author­i­ty to define “the country’s reli­gion.”

One main prob­lem with Flynn’s ver­sion of “one nation under God” is that no one reli­gious iden­ti­ty or belief ever has unit­ed Amer­i­cans. The idea of a nation­al reli­gion is direct­ly at odds with the promise of the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion that our gov­ern­ment stays neu­tral when it comes to reli­gion. In Flynn’s Unit­ed States, many Amer­i­cans are exclud­ed — those who don’t prac­tice what­ev­er the cho­sen nation­al faith would be, those who are not monothe­is­tic and those who do not affil­i­ate with reli­gion at all.

...

———–

“If you’re pay­ing atten­tion to Chris­t­ian nation­al­ism, you won’t be shocked by Michael Flynn’s call for ‘one reli­gion under God’” by Aman­da Tyler; Bap­tist News; 11/16/2021

“Such lan­guage, empha­siz­ing non-spe­cif­ic reli­gious lan­guage in offi­cial set­tings, is not sim­ply a mis­guid­ed appeal to patri­o­tism or nation­al uni­ty. Project Blitz, a project of the Con­gres­sion­al Prayer Cau­cus Foun­da­tion, explained the ratio­nale behind a mod­el bill for states to man­date the post­ing of “In God We Trust” in pub­lic schools: “More than just a mot­to, though, it is our country’s foun­da­tion and an impor­tant part of our iden­ti­ty as Amer­i­cans.”

It’s Project Blitz, brought to you by the Con­gres­sion­al Prayer Cau­cus Foun­da­tion. Yes, the group behind Project Blitz has close ties to the US con­gress. In par­tic­u­lar, the Repub­li­can del­e­ga­tion in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Cre­at­ed in 2005 by Repub­li­can con­gress­man Randy Forbes, the Con­gres­sion­al Prayer Cau­cus sounds like a gener­ic non-par­ti­san prayer group for mem­bers of con­gress. And to some extent that’s true. The group is paid for with dona­tions from the office accounts of sev­er­al con­gres­sion­al mem­bers. But as the fol­low­ing 2015 USA Today piece makes clear, it’s basi­cal­ly a Repub­li­can oper­a­tion. That year, the Cau­cus had 90 House mem­bers, and one mem­ber in the Sen­ate. Near­ly all Repub­li­cans.

But Project Blitz isn’t tech­ni­cal­ly a project of the Con­gres­sion­al Prayer Cau­cus. It’s a project of the Con­gres­sion­al Prayer Cau­cus’s non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion, the Con­gres­sion­al Prayer Cau­cus Foun­da­tion. Oper­at­ing out of a build­ing Rep Forbes owns in Chesa­peake, VA, the foun­da­tion has one paid staff mem­ber, exec­u­tive direc­tor Lea Carawan. Carawan sits on the Project Blitz steer­ing com­mit­tee. Impor­tant­ly, both Lea and her hus­band Rolfe are mem­bers of the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy (CNP).

And as we are going to see, you can’t real­ly sep­a­rate the exten­sive plan­ning and efforts that went into over­turn­ing the 2020 elec­tion results — efforts that start­ed ear­ly on in 2020 in antic­i­pa­tion of a Trump elec­toral loss — from the CNP. This is the larg­er sto­ry here: Project Blitz is just one part of a much larg­er agen­da of cap­tur­ing and per­ma­nent­ly secur­ing polit­i­cal pow­er for the Chris­t­ian Right, and the orga­ni­za­tion long at the heart of that agen­da is the CNP. The same orga­ni­za­tion that, as we’ll see, was at the heart of the orga­ni­za­tion­al efforts to over­turn the 2020 elec­tion results. So while Project Blitz is tech­ni­cal­ly a project of the Con­gres­sion­al Prayer Cau­cus Foun­da­tion, it’s impor­tant to rec­og­nize that the Con­gres­sion­al Prayer Cau­cus Foun­da­tion is just one of the many enti­ties through which Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist net­works oper­at­ing at the high­est lev­els of pow­er orga­nize their activ­i­ties. Project Blitz is a group effort with exten­sive back­ing by the right-wing oli­garchy:

USA TODAY

Prayer Cau­cus, fund­ed by tax­pay­ers, defends faith in the pub­lic square

Paul Singer
Pub­lished 3:57 pm ET Sept 28, 2015 | Updat­ed 4:22 pm ET Sept 28, 2015

WASHINGTON — When Pope Fran­cis left the Capi­tol last week, prayer did not leave with him.

One night a week, the tax­pay­er-fund­ed con­gres­sion­al Prayer Cau­cus meets in an ornate room in the U.S. Capi­tol to defend the role of (most­ly) Chris­t­ian faith and prayer in the U.S. gov­ern­ment.

The cau­cus was cre­at­ed by Rep. Randy Forbes, R‑Va., in 2005, and now includes about 90 mem­bers of the House, near­ly all Repub­li­cans, one U.S. sen­a­tor and one paid staff mem­ber.

“In addi­tion to their com­mit­ment to putting aside polit­i­cal dif­fer­ences and unit­ing in prayer for our nation, mem­bers of the Con­gres­sion­al Prayer Cau­cus work togeth­er engag­ing the leg­isla­tive process to pro­tect free exer­cise for Amer­i­cans of every faith or no faith,” Forbes said in a state­ment. “Some recent issues Prayer Cau­cus Mem­bers have engaged on include rein­forc­ing reli­gious free­dom for all faiths in the mil­i­tary, sup­port­ing and pro­tect­ing the auton­o­my of church­es and faith based orga­ni­za­tions, and work­ing to ensure every Amer­i­can is free to live accord­ing to their beliefs with­out fear of pun­ish­ment by the gov­ern­ment.”

...

Like oth­er con­gres­sion­al cau­cus­es, sev­er­al mem­bers kick in shares from their tax­pay­er-fund­ed office accounts to cov­er the approx­i­mate­ly $50,000 annu­al salary of the staff mem­ber, Amy Vitale, who tracks leg­is­la­tion, drafts let­ters and gen­er­al­ly sup­ports the work of the cau­cus.

The Prayer Cau­cus also has an out­side non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion that sup­ports its efforts, as are many oth­er cau­cus­es. The Con­gres­sion­al Prayer Cau­cus Foun­da­tion oper­ates out of a Chesa­peake, Va., build­ing Forbes owns that also hous­es his cam­paign office. His wife, Shirley Forbes, is one of three unpaid direc­tors of the foun­da­tion. The foun­da­tion has one paid staff mem­ber, exec­u­tive direc­tor Lea Carawan, but oper­ates entire­ly on pri­vate funds. Carawan declined a request for an inter­view.

The cau­cus is part­ly about prayer. The mem­bers gath­er in the House major­i­ty lead­er’s cer­e­mo­ni­al office and pray for the nation and also pray for con­stituents who are in dis­tress, sign­ing a card of sup­port that is then sent to them..

But the group also aims to extend the reach of faith and prayer in pub­lic life.

“We do what we can to make sure that leg­is­la­tion emerges with what we believe to be Amer­i­can, Chris­t­ian val­ues,” said cau­cus mem­ber John Flem­ing, R‑La. “We believe that a democ­ra­cy is only func­tion­al if there is a cer­tain lev­el of vir­tu­ous­ness among the nation. Free­dom also requires a cer­tain respon­si­bil­i­ty and that requires a cer­tain moral code. The moral code that we as Amer­i­cans have lived by for over 200 years is based on what? The Ten Com­mand­ments.”

...

The foun­da­tion encour­ages indi­vid­u­als to orga­nize “Room 219” prayer groups — named for the room in the U.S. Capi­tol where the Prayer Cau­cus meets — and urges the cre­ation of sim­i­lar cau­cus­es in state leg­is­la­tures. There are affil­i­at­ed Prayer Cau­cus­es in at least a dozen state leg­is­la­tures.

Forbes and a dozen oth­er Prayer Cau­cus mem­bers trav­eled to North Car­oli­na in March to launch an ini­tia­tive called PrayUSA, ask­ing gov­ern­ment offi­cials and oth­er to sign a res­o­lu­tion call­ing for prayer. The ini­tia­tive is part of “a tac­ti­cal strat­e­gy to effec­tive­ly chal­lenge the grow­ing anti-faith move­ment in our Coun­try,” the foun­da­tion says.

...

Roy Speck­hardt, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Amer­i­can Human­ist Asso­ci­a­tion, said “It’s clear that this enti­ty is push­ing to merge church and state when it comes to mak­ing prayer — par­tic­u­lar­ly Chris­t­ian prayer — a part of gov­ern­ment respon­si­bil­i­ty.”

The cau­cus “is try­ing to use the pow­er of gov­ern­ment to be on the side of a par­tic­u­lar reli­gious view­point,” he argued. “They are try­ing to give the appear­ance that cer­tain types of reli­gious activ­i­ty and cer­tain types of reli­gious belief are endorsed by the gov­ern­ment.”

———–


Prayer Cau­cus, fund­ed by tax­pay­ers, defends faith in the pub­lic square” by Paul Singer; USA TODAY; 09/28/2015

The cau­cus was cre­at­ed by Rep. Randy Forbes, R‑Va., in 2005, and now includes about 90 mem­bers of the House, near­ly all Repub­li­cans, one U.S. sen­a­tor and one paid staff mem­ber.”

A con­gres­sion­al cau­cus con­sist­ing near­ly entire­ly of House Repub­li­cans. That was the com­po­si­tion of the Con­gres­sion­al Prayer Cau­cus in 2015. But it’s not the cau­cus itself that’s run­ning Project Blitz. That’s done by the cau­cus’s non-prof­it foun­da­tion, the Con­gres­sion­al Prayer Cau­cus Foun­da­tion. Which has just one paid employ­ee: Exec­u­tive direc­tor — and CNP mem­ber — Lea Carawan:

...
Like oth­er con­gres­sion­al cau­cus­es, sev­er­al mem­bers kick in shares from their tax­pay­er-fund­ed office accounts to cov­er the approx­i­mate­ly $50,000 annu­al salary of the staff mem­ber, Amy Vitale, who tracks leg­is­la­tion, drafts let­ters and gen­er­al­ly sup­ports the work of the cau­cus.

The Prayer Cau­cus also has an out­side non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion that sup­ports its efforts, as are many oth­er cau­cus­es. The Con­gres­sion­al Prayer Cau­cus Foun­da­tion oper­ates out of a Chesa­peake, Va., build­ing Forbes owns that also hous­es his cam­paign office. His wife, Shirley Forbes, is one of three unpaid direc­tors of the foun­da­tion. The foun­da­tion has one paid staff mem­ber, exec­u­tive direc­tor Lea Carawan, but oper­ates entire­ly on pri­vate funds. Carawan declined a request for an inter­view.
...

Keep in mind that the above arti­cle was writ­ten in 2015, a year before Project Blitz was for­mal­ly start­ed. But it was already clear to observers that a merg­er of church and state was at the of the group’s agen­da. Giv­ing cer­tain reli­gious groups spe­cial gov­ern­ment endorse­ments was clear­ly the goal for the Con­gres­sion­al Prayer Cau­cus and its non-prof­it Foun­da­tion.

Project Blitz: The Christian Right’s Plan to “Make America Great Again” By Making it Officially Christian for the First Time Ever

It was in 2016, with the cre­ation of Project Blitz, that the Con­gres­sion­al Prayer Cau­cus’s agen­da became unde­ni­able. Launched under the lead­er­ship of one of the Repub­li­can Par­ty’s favorite ‘his­to­ri­ans’, David Bar­ton, Project Blitz start­ed off as both a ‘bill mill’ project but also a project in his­tor­i­cal revi­sion­ism. The kind of his­tor­i­cal revi­sion­ism that is David Bar­ton’s spe­cial­ty: revis­ing our under­stand­ing of the Found­ing Fathers. Revis­ing out of Amer­i­can his­to­ry all of the ugly truths that might dam­age the Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist utopi­an vision of a divine­ly-guid­ed nation found­ed by Found­ing Fathers with deep Chris­t­ian beliefs and a sense that the Unit­ed States was intend­ed to be a nation run by and for con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­tians. As Fred­er­ick Clark­son put it, the theo­crat­ic end they envi­sion is chill­ing­ly akin to The Hand­maid­’s Tale. Yes, Project Blitz is essen­tial­ly an ALEC-like enti­ty that exists to gen­er­ate the kind of ‘mod­el leg­is­la­tion’ that would remod­el the US into The Hand­maid­’s Tale:

Salon

The plot against Amer­i­ca: Inside the Chris­t­ian right plan to “remod­el” the nation

Reli­gious right’s blue­print for theo­crat­ic state laws keeps creep­ing for­ward. Is the left ready to fight?

By Paul Rosen­berg
Pub­lished April 13, 2019 12:20PM (EDT)

On April 3, USA Today pub­lished an array of sto­ries under the ban­ner, “Copy, Paste, Leg­is­late,” explor­ing the polit­i­cal impact of mod­el bills on state-lev­el leg­is­la­tion — more than 10,000 bills from 2010 to 2018 — based on a two-year joint inves­ti­ga­tion with the Ari­zona Repub­lic and the Cen­ter for Pub­lic Integri­ty. The lead sto­ry head­line said it all: “You elect­ed them to write new laws. They’re let­ting cor­po­ra­tions do it instead.

OK, it was­n’t quite all. While cor­po­rate influ­ence was the strongest, fig­ures revealed that con­ser­v­a­tive groups weren’t far behind: There were 4,301 bills from indus­try and 4,012 from con­ser­v­a­tive groups, far more than the 1,602 from lib­er­al groups or the 248 clas­si­fied as “oth­er.” The hid­den ori­gins of these bills often hides their true intent. The most noto­ri­ous such group, the Amer­i­can Leg­isla­tive Exchange Coun­cil, or ALEC, for instance com­bines busi­ness inter­ests with move­ment con­ser­v­a­tives.

But with­in the fold of “con­ser­v­a­tive groups” there’s a whole oth­er sto­ry to be told about the orga­niz­ing of extrem­ist reli­gious con­ser­v­a­tives, whose polit­i­cal mobi­liza­tion, as I’ve not­ed in the past, played a cru­cial role in elect­ing Don­ald Trump. Indeed, just the day before “Copy, Past, Leg­is­late” was pub­lished, the Texas Sen­ate passed SB-17, a bill that would pro­tect anti-LGBTQ dis­crim­i­na­tion by all licensed pro­fes­sion­als who claim to act on a “sin­cere­ly held reli­gious belief.”

“It’s time for Amer­i­cans to wake up to the harsh real­i­ty that the reli­gious right, fueled by their fear of loss of pow­er from the chang­ing demo­graph­ics in our coun­try and their sup­port from the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, is embold­ened and aggres­sive­ly pur­su­ing all means pos­si­ble to main­tain white Chris­t­ian pow­er in Amer­i­ca,” Rachel Laser, the pres­i­dent of Amer­i­cans Unit­ed For Sep­a­ra­tion of Church and State, told Salon. “Project Blitz, for exam­ple, has already intro­duced over 50 bills in at least 23 states this year alone,” she added.

One spin-off sto­ry pub­lished in the Nashville Ten­nessean dealt specif­i­cal­ly with an anti-LGT­BQ adop­tion mod­el bill. (Simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, NBC report­ed such bills were “‘snow­balling’ in state leg­is­la­tures.”) The Ten­nessee bill came from Project Blitz, which was described as “a leg­isla­tive effort with the stat­ed aim to ‘bring back God to Amer­i­ca.’” But as Salon has report­ed in the past, Project Blitz is much more sin­is­ter than that.

Fred­er­ick Clark­son, senior research ana­lyst at Polit­i­cal Research Asso­ciates, was the first to dis­cov­er its three-tier play­book, pro­duced by a coali­tion of right-wing activists he’d long been fol­low­ing, includ­ing Texas Repub­li­can activist and pseu­do-his­to­ri­an David Bar­ton, whose book, “Jef­fer­son Lies,” which tried to remake Thomas Jef­fer­son as an evan­gel­i­cal hero, was can­celed by its pub­lish­er under with­er­ing crit­i­cism from con­ser­v­a­tive and evan­gel­i­cal schol­ars (fol­lowup here)..

“The authors of the Project Blitz play­book are savvy pur­vey­ors of domin­ion­ism,” Clark­son told Salon at the time. “They are in it for the long haul and try not to say things that sound too alarm­ing. But they live an imma­nent theo­crat­ic vision.” Not all their allies would go all the way with them, Clark­son told me, but the theo­crat­ic end they envi­sion is chill­ing­ly akin to “The Hand­maid­’s Tale” — rea­son enough to war­rant far more atten­tion than they’ve got­ten so far.

The first tier of Project Blitz aims at import­ing the Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist world­view into pub­lic schools and oth­er aspects of the pub­lic sphere, the sec­ond tier aims at mak­ing gov­ern­ment increas­ing­ly a part­ner in “Chris­tian­iz­ing” Amer­i­ca, and the third tier con­tains three types of pro­posed laws that “pro­tect” reli­gious beliefs and prac­tices specif­i­cal­ly intend­ed to ben­e­fit big­otry.

“Although cat­e­go­ry three is divid­ed in three parts, you could also see it as hav­ing two main under­ly­ing inten­tions,” Clark­son explained. “First to den­i­grate the LGBTQ com­mu­ni­ty, and sec­ond to defend and advance the right to dis­crim­i­nate. This is one way that the agen­da of theo­crat­ic domin­ion­ism is reframed as pro­tect­ing the right of theocrats to dis­crim­i­nate against those deemed sec­ond-class, at best. As the late theo­crat­ic the­olo­gian R.J. Rush­doony said, ‘Only the right have rights.’ ”

The broad­er find­ings revealed in “Copy, Paste, Leg­is­late” help to expand our under­stand­ing by high­light­ing three sig­nif­i­cant pat­terns shared in var­i­ous ways with Project Blitz, which are used to advance their theo­crat­ic agen­da, often hid­ing it in plain sight:

1) Mis­lead­ing Lan­guage That Inverts Com­mon Sense Project Blitz does this repeat­ed­ly with the most fun­da­men­tal terms: “reli­gious free­dom,” “First Amend­ment,” and so on. In doing so, it mir­rors what cor­po­ra­tions and insur­ance com­pa­nies did with “trans­paren­cy” in the “Asbestos Trans­paren­cy Act,” switch­ing the roles of vic­tims and per­pe­tra­tors, cast­ing them­selves as “vic­tims of lit­i­ga­tion filed by peo­ple harmed by asbestos,” and requir­ing mesothe­lioma vic­tims to seek mon­ey from an asbestos trust — a lengthy process many won’t live long enough to ben­e­fit from. How’s that for “trans­paren­cy”?

2) Goal­post Mov­ing The entire Project Blitz con­cept is premised on mov­ing the goal­posts. It’s built into the very struc­ture of its three-tiered play­book, as well as the log­ic of the sup­port­ing argu­ments. A sim­i­lar strat­e­gy was involved in pro­mot­ing vouch­ers in Ari­zona, begin­ning with a vouch­er for stu­dents with dis­abil­i­ties, then fol­low­ing up with bill after bill offer­ing vouch­ers to more and more stu­dents, even­tu­al­ly all of them, with no guar­an­tee pro­tect­ing the first group of recip­i­ents from get­ting lost in the process.

“Every sin­gle, lit­tle expan­sion, if you look at who’s behind it, it is the peo­ple that want to get that door kicked open for pri­vate reli­gious edu­ca­tion,” the moth­er of two chil­dren on the autism spec­trum said. “All we (fam­i­lies with dis­abled stu­dents) are was the way for them to crack open the door.”

3) Pre-emp­tion Project Blitz doesn’t use the term “pre-emp­tion,” but since state-lev­el law rou­tine­ly pre-empts local laws — which often pro­tect LGBTQ rights, for exam­ple — it’s implic­it­ly inte­gral to their strat­e­gy. Mod­el bills tracked by USA Today often focused on such pre-emp­tion:

These laws, in effect, allow state leg­is­la­tors to dic­tate to city coun­cils and coun­ty gov­ern­ing boards what they can and can­not do with­in their juris­dic­tion — includ­ing pre­vent­ing them from rais­ing the min­i­mum wage, ban­ning plas­tic gro­cery bags, and destroy­ing guns.

North Carolina’s noto­ri­ous bath­room bill was an exam­ple of the kind of bill that Project Blitz could take up in the future, and politi­cians asso­ci­at­ed with Project Blitz have already copied it — most notably, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, whose efforts last ses­sion ulti­mate­ly failed. Last month, Texas was at it again, when an ALEC-inspired effort to pre-empt local work­er pro­tec­tions was hijacked by Patrick allies to pre-empt LBGTQ pro­tec­tions as well.

With these pat­terns in mind, let’s first con­sid­er how the reli­gious right has attempt­ed to rein­vent big­otry as free­dom, and then take a look at con­tem­po­rary state bat­tles in Texas and else­where.

Bigot’s Rights: Theocracy’s Foun­da­tion

As I not­ed here in 2016, this new homo­pho­bic dis­crim­i­na­to­ry vision exact­ly echoes the racist dis­crim­i­na­to­ry vision that birthed the reli­gious right in the 1970s. The con­nec­tion is trans­par­ent­ly obvi­ous. When Mis­sis­sip­pi passed a “reli­gious free­dom” law that year, which only pro­tect­ed the free­dom of big­ots, the Jack­son city coun­cil unan­i­mous­ly passed a res­o­lu­tion rebuk­ing the law, and May­or Tony Yarber explic­it­ly con­nect­ed big­otry past and present:

As a pre­dom­i­nant­ly black city in Mis­sis­sip­pi, the Jack­son com­mu­ni­ty has endured racism, dis­crim­i­na­tion and injus­tice over the years. We are Mississippi’s cap­i­tal city, and as part of our dec­la­ra­tion of being the “Bold New City,” we will not dis­crim­i­nate against any indi­vid­ual because of race, reli­gious beliefs or sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion, nor do we sup­port leg­is­la­tion that allows for such dis­crim­i­na­tion.

The bat­tle­ground Project Blitz has cho­sen revolves around a fal­si­fied his­to­ry of Amer­i­ca as a “Chris­t­ian nation” — sharply at odds with “The God­less Con­sti­tu­tion” we actu­al­ly have — and a new­ly-mint­ed def­i­n­i­tion of “Chris­tian­i­ty” as root­ed in homo­pho­bia. With these twin lies in place, they posi­tion them­selves as the “true Chris­tians” and “true Amer­i­cans” suf­fer­ing from gov­ern­ment oppres­sion.

With that false social iden­ti­ty in place, Chris­t­ian nation­al­ists ratio­nal­ize the “free­dom” to dis­crim­i­nate as a fun­da­men­tal right, pow­er­ing a shift from defense to offense, that was per­fect­ly cap­tured by Kather­ine Stew­art in a New York Times op-ed last year, “A Chris­t­ian Nation­al­ist Blitz.” Stew­art described par­tic­i­pants in a Project Blitz con­fer­ence call refer­ring to the above law “in awed tones as ‘the Mis­sis­sip­pi mis­sile.’” To under­stand why, here’s its exact lan­guage:

SECTION 2. The sin­cere­ly held reli­gious beliefs or moral con­vic­tions pro­tect­ed by this act are the belief or con­vic­tion that:

(a) Mar­riage is or should be rec­og­nized as the union of one man and one woman;

(b) Sex­u­al rela­tions are prop­er­ly reserved to such a mar­riage; and

© Male (man) or female (woman) refer to an indi­vid­u­al’s immutable bio­log­i­cal sex as objec­tive­ly deter­mined by anato­my and genet­ics at time of birth.

In Project Blitz’s 2018–19 play­book, this is called the “Mar­riage Tol­er­ance Act” (aka “First Amend­ment Defense Act”) and uses the same nar­row­ly-tai­lored def­i­n­i­tion. But if “leg­is­la­tors do not have enough sup­port to pass the rec­om­mend­ed lan­guage,” the play­book offers “a fall-back posi­tion,” replac­ing the explic­it lan­guage with the vague­ly-word­ed alter­na­tive, “regard­ing law­ful mar­riage in this state.”

This is not advised, how­ev­er, because of the dan­ger that it will be used by non-big­ots. The play­book explains:

We repeat, how­ev­er, that we advise against this alter­na­tive. This lan­guage still car­ries a risk, even if slim, of being abused by an indi­vid­ual or group alleg­ing that their same-sex mar­riage views are a “sin­cere­ly held reli­gious belief.”

Such is the mind­set behind the façade of pro­mot­ing Amer­i­can free­dom.

Bat­tle­field Texas

In Texas, as not­ed above, a Project Blitz bill, SB-17, just passed the State Sen­ate. It would allow anti-LGBTQ dis­crim­i­na­tion by any licensed pro­fes­sion­al. (Tech­ni­cal­ly, such a pro­fes­sion­al could still be sued for dis­crim­i­na­tion, but could rely on the law at tri­al.) In rur­al Texas, this could eas­i­ly mean a total lack of ser­vices. It’s not just health care pro­fes­sion­als who could wan­ton­ly hold people’s lives in their hands. If passed, an LGBTQ Tex­an could well die of heat­stroke because of an air-con­di­tion­ing repair person’s “sin­cere­ly held reli­gious belief,” as point­ed out by Emmett Schelling, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Trans­gen­der Edu­ca­tion Net­work of Texas, in an April 8 press con­fer­ence call.

“Life as a trans per­son in Texas is already very dif­fi­cult,” Schelling said. “Enact­ing this law would make it even more dif­fi­cult ... if not impos­si­ble, for those of us mar­gin­al­ized with­in our com­mu­ni­ty.”

“The last leg­isla­tive ses­sion, most of the oxy­gen was tak­en up with epic bat­tles over a bath­room bill,” added Saman­tha Smoot, inter­im exec­u­tive direc­tor of Equal­i­ty Texas, on the same call. That push was led by Lt. Gov. Patrick, whose efforts ulti­mate­ly failed. The elec­tion that fol­lowed was wide­ly seen as “in large part a ref­er­en­dum on the bath­room bill,” Smoot said. “Twelve new pro-equal­i­ty leg­is­la­tors were elect­ed here in Texas; four of the top pro­po­nents of the bath­room bill were defeat­ed,” she said. “That led us to the begin­ning of the ses­sion, and the lieu­tenant gov­er­nor stat­ing pub­licly that this is going to be a meat-and-pota­toes ses­sion, that we’re not going to see the types of attacks on LGBTQ peo­ple that had char­ac­ter­ized the 2017 leg­isla­tive ses­sion.”

Now, in a stark turn­around, SB-17 has renewed the bat­tle, already draw­ing strong busi­ness oppo­si­tion, in fears of repeat­ing North Carolina’s expe­ri­ence. It isn’t alone. “SB 17 is one of 15 bills that have been filed this ses­sion that aim to turn reli­gion into a license to dis­crim­i­nate against LGBTQ peo­ple in Texas,” Smoot said.

On the same call, Kathy Miller, pres­i­dent of the Texas Free­dom Net­work, dis­cussed the influ­ence of David Bar­ton and Project Blitz. “It now seems clear that Texas is at the cen­ter of the nation­wide state-by-state strat­e­gy to pass leg­is­la­tion that uses reli­gion to block or roll back nondis­crim­i­na­tion pro­tec­tions for LGBTQ Tex­ans and LGBTQ Amer­i­cans,” Miller said. “Make no mis­take, what is hap­pen­ing in Texas now will hap­pen in oth­er states as well. In fact, it already has.”

“What’s extra­or­di­nary about the Texas bill is its reach,” Clark­son said after the call. We’ve been used to adop­tion agency bills, for exam­ple, he not­ed, “But this has to do with all state pro­fes­sion­al licens­ing agen­cies. So if you’re a social work­er or teacher, as well as a health care work­er, you can declare reli­gious exemp­tions in ser­vice to LGBTQ peo­ple on a range that’s breath­tak­ing,” he said. “I don’t think we’ve seen that any­where else.”

What could this por­tend? “It sug­gests we’re on a slip­pery slope, just in terms of the nature and the range of reli­gious exemp­tions and how broad­ly they can apply,” Clark­son said. “It’s accel­er­at­ing and expand­ing in a way we have not seen else­where. Every­body should be right­ly con­cerned about the unam­bigu­ous domin­ion­ist inten­tions of Project Blitz gen­er­al­ly, and of many of the back­ers of leg­is­la­tion like this.”

On the oth­er hand, some people’s will­ing­ness to go along is lim­it­ed or con­di­tion­al, and polit­i­cal cir­cum­stances cer­tain­ly can change —and have done so, as wit­ness the midterm elec­tion results.

“On the plus side of this, for 2020, I think that the recent round of elec­tions showed what’s pos­si­ble,” Clark­son not­ed. “That shows that there is a vast swath of Amer­i­cans that, if they decide to act, can make a deci­sive dif­fer­ence in sit­u­a­tions like this.”

To bet­ter under­stand David Barton’s role in par­tic­u­lar, I turned to Chris Rod­da, author of “Liars for Jesus” and senior research direc­tor for the Mil­i­tary Reli­gious Free­dom Foun­da­tion. On the one hand, as an activist, she not­ed, “Bar­ton has for years encour­aged his fol­low­ers to run for local and state office, from school boards on up, and pushed the impor­tance of local of state and local elec­tions to get the vot­er turnout.” This local elec­tion focus is where evan­gel­i­cal con­ser­v­a­tives con­sis­tent­ly have an edge over Democ­rats, she not­ed.

Bar­ton’s fake ver­sion of his­to­ry is direct­ly con­nect­ed to polit­i­cal out­comes, Rod­da said. “The rea­son for the his­to­ry revi­sion­ism is to make the fol­low­ers of peo­ple like Bar­ton think that the reli­gious leg­is­la­tion is jus­ti­fied by his­to­ry,” Rod­da said. “Since most Chris­tians aren’t liars, he has to get them to gen­uine­ly believe that the leg­is­la­tion that they’re try­ing to get passed is what the founders intend­ed,” when it’s actu­al­ly the exact oppo­site, as I’ve not­ed repeat­ed­ly before (here, here and here).

The Pow­er of Lies

As not­ed above, the twin lies that Amer­i­ca was found­ed as a Chris­t­ian nation and that Chris­tian­i­ty is defined by homo­pho­bia com­bine to cre­ate a pow­er­ful social iden­ti­ty, which in turn helps facil­i­tate the spread of Project Blitz’s agen­da, whether pre­cise­ly embod­ied in mod­el bills or not.

This can be seen in two relat­ed sto­ries from Mis­souri. First, Madi­son McVan at the Mis­souri­an report­ed on a trio of bills whose intent aligns with Project Blitz — Mis­souri House Bill 267, whose text resem­bles the “Bible Lit­er­a­cy Act,” a Sen­ate res­o­lu­tion encour­ag­ing schools to offer Bible lit­er­a­cy elec­tives (sim­i­lar in spir­it only), and House Bill 577, which is much short­er than the “Nation­al Mot­to Dis­play Act” from Project Blitz, but with the same end result: “The bill would require pub­lic schools to dis­play ‘In God We Trust’ in a promi­nent loca­tion such as a school entry­way or cafe­te­ria.”

None of the authors claimed to know about Project Blitz, but its influ­ence was obvi­ous. The tex­tu­al­ly sim­i­lar bill came from copy­ing oth­er state laws. Anoth­er was writ­ten by the chair of the Mis­souri Prayer Cau­cus Net­work, whose nation­al foun­da­tion helped cre­ation the Project Blitz hand­book. He claimed to have had no involve­ment. The third author could not remem­ber where the text came from — only that some­one had offered it and he liked it.

“Even if some leg­is­la­tors intro­duce bills that they do not know draws lan­guage from Project Blitz mod­el bills, it cer­tain­ly val­i­dates Project Blitz meth­ods, which get their mate­r­i­al cir­cu­lat­ed, even if indi­rect­ly from oth­er states that may use it more overt­ly,” Clark­son said. “Sim­i­lar­ly, just because some­one is not a mem­ber of a state’s leg­isla­tive prayer cau­cus does­n’t mean that they are not influ­enced by those who are.”

In short, the impacts of Project Blitz go well beyond what the tex­tu­al analy­sis behind “Cut, Paste, Leg­is­late” can mea­sure.

The role of shap­ing a social iden­ti­ty is espe­cial­ly note­wor­thy in the sec­ond Mis­souri sto­ry, from the Mis­souri Times. It con­cerns House Bill 728, which would pro­hib­it anony­mous free­dom of reli­gion law­suits — which are allowed under cur­rent law, if the per­son brin­ing the law­suit can show cause. “The Mis­souri bill that pro­hibits church-state plain­tiffs from being anony­mous despite, or per­haps because of, the like­li­hood that these plain­tiffs are harassed and even receive death threats is anoth­er exam­ple of how embold­ened and immoral the reli­gious right is today,” said Laser of Amer­i­cans Unit­ed.

But the bill’s author, Rep. Hardy Billing­ton, con­tin­ued to play the vic­tim. “House Bill 728 would guar­an­tee that no indi­vid­ual or orga­ni­za­tion will be able to use state courts as a weapon to attack the right of Mis­souri cit­i­zens to dis­play reli­gious sym­bols in pub­lic spaces while hid­ing behind a cloak of secre­cy,” he said.

Of course that “right” only exists in Barton’s myth­i­cal his­to­ry. But myths have tremen­dous pow­er in Trump’s post-truth Amer­i­ca. Which is why polit­i­cal lead­ers need to step up, Laser argued.

...

————

“The plot against Amer­i­ca: Inside the Chris­t­ian right plan to “remod­el” the nation” by Paul Rosen­berg; Salon; 04/13/2019

“The first tier of Project Blitz aims at import­ing the Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist world­view into pub­lic schools and oth­er aspects of the pub­lic sphere, the sec­ond tier aims at mak­ing gov­ern­ment increas­ing­ly a part­ner in “Chris­tian­iz­ing” Amer­i­ca, and the third tier con­tains three types of pro­posed laws that “pro­tect” reli­gious beliefs and prac­tices specif­i­cal­ly intend­ed to ben­e­fit big­otry.”

A three-tiered plan, with each tier get­ting us clos­er and clos­er to a full blown theoc­ra­cy. The first tier gets the theo­crat­ic foot in the door with seem­ing­ly innocu­ous calls for prayer in pub­lic schools and the pub­lic sphere. The sec­ond tier push­es this agen­da a bit fur­ther by get­ting the gov­ern­ment to make procla­ma­tions about how the US soci­ety was built on Chris­t­ian foun­da­tions. Like the first tier, it’s just a seem­ing­ly innocu­ous dec­la­ra­tion of par­tic­u­lar reli­gious tra­di­tions. But then we get to the third tier of the agen­da, where par­tic­u­lar reli­gious beliefs are then declared “pro­tect­ed” by law. As Fred­er­ick Clark­son put it, the theo­crat­ic end they envi­sion is chill­ing­ly akin to The Hand­maid­’s Tale. Project Blitz was set up to feed law­mak­ers cook­ie-cut­ter leg­is­la­tion designed to fur­ther that agen­da. That’s the game being played here, which is why secre­cy about the very exis­tence of Project Blitz has also been part of the agen­da too.

But it’s not just an agen­da for con­fer­ring spe­cial rights to con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­tians. Project Blitz has the goal of impos­ing an ahis­tor­i­cal ver­sion of Amer­i­can his­to­ry. Specif­i­cal­ly, David Bar­ton’s ahis­tor­i­cal vision of the Found­ing Fathers as ardent Chris­t­ian nation­al­ists who actu­al­ly sought a merg­er of Church and State:

...
“It’s time for Amer­i­cans to wake up to the harsh real­i­ty that the reli­gious right, fueled by their fear of loss of pow­er from the chang­ing demo­graph­ics in our coun­try and their sup­port from the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, is embold­ened and aggres­sive­ly pur­su­ing all means pos­si­ble to main­tain white Chris­t­ian pow­er in Amer­i­ca,” Rachel Laser, the pres­i­dent of Amer­i­cans Unit­ed For Sep­a­ra­tion of Church and State, told Salon. “Project Blitz, for exam­ple, has already intro­duced over 50 bills in at least 23 states this year alone,” she added.

One spin-off sto­ry pub­lished in the Nashville Ten­nessean dealt specif­i­cal­ly with an anti-LGT­BQ adop­tion mod­el bill. (Simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, NBC report­ed such bills were “‘snow­balling’ in state leg­is­la­tures.”) The Ten­nessee bill came from Project Blitz, which was described as “a leg­isla­tive effort with the stat­ed aim to ‘bring back God to Amer­i­ca.’” But as Salon has report­ed in the past, Project Blitz is much more sin­is­ter than that.

Fred­er­ick Clark­son, senior research ana­lyst at Polit­i­cal Research Asso­ciates, was the first to dis­cov­er its three-tier play­book, pro­duced by a coali­tion of right-wing activists he’d long been fol­low­ing, includ­ing Texas Repub­li­can activist and pseu­do-his­to­ri­an David Bar­ton, whose book, “Jef­fer­son Lies,” which tried to remake Thomas Jef­fer­son as an evan­gel­i­cal hero, was can­celed by its pub­lish­er under with­er­ing crit­i­cism from con­ser­v­a­tive and evan­gel­i­cal schol­ars (fol­lowup here)..

“The authors of the Project Blitz play­book are savvy pur­vey­ors of domin­ion­ism,” Clark­son told Salon at the time. “They are in it for the long haul and try not to say things that sound too alarm­ing. But they live an imma­nent theo­crat­ic vision.” Not all their allies would go all the way with them, Clark­son told me, but the theo­crat­ic end they envi­sion is chill­ing­ly akin to “The Hand­maid­’s Tale” — rea­son enough to war­rant far more atten­tion than they’ve got­ten so far.

...

The bat­tle­ground Project Blitz has cho­sen revolves around a fal­si­fied his­to­ry of Amer­i­ca as a “Chris­t­ian nation” — sharply at odds with “The God­less Con­sti­tu­tion” we actu­al­ly have — and a new­ly-mint­ed def­i­n­i­tion of “Chris­tian­i­ty” as root­ed in homo­pho­bia. With these twin lies in place, they posi­tion them­selves as the “true Chris­tians” and “true Amer­i­cans” suf­fer­ing from gov­ern­ment oppres­sion.

...

Bar­ton’s fake ver­sion of his­to­ry is direct­ly con­nect­ed to polit­i­cal out­comes, Rod­da said. “The rea­son for the his­to­ry revi­sion­ism is to make the fol­low­ers of peo­ple like Bar­ton think that the reli­gious leg­is­la­tion is jus­ti­fied by his­to­ry,” Rod­da said. “Since most Chris­tians aren’t liars, he has to get them to gen­uine­ly believe that the leg­is­la­tion that they’re try­ing to get passed is what the founders intend­ed,” when it’s actu­al­ly the exact oppo­site, as I’ve not­ed repeat­ed­ly before (here, here and here).
...

So is David Bar­ton just a reli­gious con man who has achieved a dis­turb­ing lev­el of influ­ence? Yes and no.

David Barton: The GOP’s Go-To Theocrat

Yes, David Bar­ton is indeed a reli­gious con man. But he’s not just some ran­dom con man. A adher­ent of the “Sev­en Moun­tains Domin­ion­ism” sect, Bar­ton has for decades been one of the most revered con men in the Repub­li­can Par­ty. He was so pop­u­lar back in 2011 that Mike Huck­abee intro­duced Bar­ton at an event by declar­ing, “I almost wish that there would be some­thing like a simul­ta­ne­ous tele­cast and all Amer­i­cans would be forced, forced—at gun­point, no less—to lis­ten to every David Bar­ton mes­sage. And I think our coun­try would be bet­ter for it.” But as the fol­low­ing 2012 Dai­ly Beast excerpt points out, Bar­ton’s rela­tion­ship with the reli­gious right has­n’t always been smooth. That was the year Bar­ton faced a back­lash. Some­one final­ly noticed that Bar­ton’s ver­sion of Amer­i­can his­to­ry was a steam­ing pile of ahis­tor­i­cal garbage. Not that it mat­tered in the end. The back­lash did­n’t last. And that’s part of the sto­ry here: David Bar­ton oper­ates in such bad faith that he was called out by fel­low con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­t­ian his­to­ri­ans about a decade ago, and yet Bar­ton con­tin­ues to be a key fig­ure on the Reli­gious Right, with Project Blitz as just one of his many theo­crat­ic projects. Bar­ton was out­ed as a fraud and it did­n’t mat­ter because it was polit­i­cal­ly con­ve­nient fraud:

The Dai­ly Beast

David Bar­ton, Chris­t­ian Schol­ar, Faces a Back­lash
‘Mis­lead­ing Claims’

The far-right author has claimed the found­ing fathers want­ed a Chris­t­ian nation—but now con­ser­v­a­tives are dis­own­ing his work.

Michelle Gold­berg
Updat­ed Jul. 13, 2017 10:26PM ET
Pub­lished Aug. 11, 2012 4:45AM ET

At the Redis­cov­er­ing God in Amer­i­ca con­fer­ence in 2011, Mike Huck­abee gave an impas­sioned intro­duc­tion to David Bar­ton, the reli­gious right’s favorite revi­sion­ist his­to­ri­an. “I almost wish that there would be some­thing like a simul­ta­ne­ous tele­cast and all Amer­i­cans would be forced, forced—at gun­point, no less—to lis­ten to every David Bar­ton mes­sage,” he said. “And I think our coun­try would be bet­ter for it.”

It’s hard to over­state how impor­tant Bar­ton has been in shap­ing the world­view of the Chris­t­ian right, and of pop­ulist con­ser­v­a­tives more gen­er­al­ly. A self-taught his­to­ri­an with a degree in reli­gious edu­ca­tion from Oral Roberts Uni­ver­si­ty, he runs a Texas-based orga­ni­za­tion called Wall­Builders, which spe­cial­izes in books and videos meant to show that the found­ing fathers were over­whelm­ing­ly “ortho­dox, evan­gel­i­cal” believ­ers who intend­ed for the Unit­ed States to be a Chris­t­ian nation. Newt Gin­grich has called his work “won­der­ful” and “most use­ful.” George W. Bush’s cam­paign hired him to do cler­gy out­reach in 2004. In 2010, Glenn Beck called him called him “the most impor­tant man in Amer­i­ca right now.” At the end of the month, he’s slat­ed to serve on the GOP’s plat­form com­mit­tee at the Repub­li­can Nation­al Con­ven­tion in Tam­pa.

But now, sud­den­ly, Barton’s rep­u­ta­tion is in freefall, and not just among the sec­u­lar his­to­ri­ans and jour­nal­ists who have been denounc­ing him for ages. (I’m among them; I wrote exten­sive­ly about Bar­ton in my 2006 book King­dom Com­ing: The Rise of Chris­t­ian Nation­al­ism.) Ear­li­er this week, the evan­gel­i­cal World mag­a­zine pub­lished a piece about the grow­ing num­ber of con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­t­ian schol­ars ques­tion­ing his work. Then, on Thurs­day, Thomas Nel­son, the world’s largest Chris­t­ian pub­lish­er, recalled Barton’s most recent book, the best­selling The Jef­fer­son Lies, say­ing it had “lost con­fi­dence in the book’s details.”

For decades, Bar­ton has tried to write enlight­en­ment deism out of Amer­i­can his­to­ry, but it seems that by attempt­ing to turn the famous­ly free­think­ing Thomas Jef­fer­son into a pious pre­cur­sor of the mod­ern Chris­t­ian right, he final­ly went too far. “Books like that makes Chris­t­ian schol­ar­ship look bad,” says War­ren Throck­mor­ton, an evan­gel­i­cal pro­fes­sor of psy­chol­o­gy at Grove City Col­lege, a con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­t­ian school in Penn­syl­va­nia. “If that’s what peo­ple are pass­ing off as Chris­t­ian schol­ar­ship, there are claims in there that are eas­i­ly proved false.”

Throck­mor­ton and anoth­er Grove City pro­fes­sor, Michael Coul­ter, have been so dis­turbed by Barton’s dis­tor­tions that they wrote a recent rejoin­der to his Jef­fer­son book, titled Get­ting Jef­fer­son Right: Fact Check­ing Claims About Our Third Pres­i­dent. Their book appears to have inspired oth­er con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­tians final­ly to take a crit­i­cal look at Bar­ton.

Jay Richards, a senior fel­low at the con­ser­v­a­tive Dis­cov­ery Insti­tute who spoke along­side Bar­ton at a con­fer­ence last month, read Get­ting Jef­fer­son Right and got in touch with Throck­mor­ton. Accord­ing to World, Richards pro­ceed­ed to ask 10 con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­t­ian schol­ars to review Barton’s work. When they did, the response was extreme­ly neg­a­tive, lead­ing Richards to con­clude that Barton’s books and videos traf­ficked in “embar­rass­ing fac­tu­al errors, sus­pi­cious­ly selec­tive quotes, and high­ly mis­lead­ing claims.”

The most seri­ous of Barton’s decep­tions involve his efforts to white­wash Jefferson’s racism, part of Barton’s broad­er project of absolv­ing the founders of the orig­i­nal sin of slav­ery, which would taint his pic­ture of the country’s divine ori­gins. His book argues, false­ly, that Jef­fer­son want­ed to free his slaves, but couldn’t do so because of Vir­ginia law. That claim so incensed some Cincin­nati-area pas­tors, both African-Amer­i­can and white, that they threat­ened a boy­cott of Thomas Nel­son pub­lish­ers. “You can’t be seri­ous about racial uni­ty in the church, while hold­ing up Jef­fer­son as a hero and cham­pi­on of free­dom,” one of them said in a press release.

Barton’s his­to­ry around race is com­pli­cat­ed. As I’ve pre­vi­ous­ly writ­ten, he got his start on the racist far right. In 1991, the Anti-Defama­tion League has report­ed, he spoke at a sum­mer gath­er­ing of Scrip­tures for Amer­i­ca, a Chris­t­ian Iden­ti­ty group. A fringe creed, Chris­t­ian Iden­ti­ty holds that Jews are the Satan­ic off­spring of Eve’s liai­son with the ser­pent in the Gar­den of Eden, while Africans are a sep­a­rate species of “mud peo­ple.” Oth­er speak­ers at the meet­ing were Holo­caust denier Mal­colm Ross and white suprema­cist Richard Kel­ly Hoskins. That fall, Bar­ton was fea­tured at anoth­er Chris­tian­i­ty Iden­ti­ty gath­er­ing, in Ore­gon.

As Bar­ton went main­stream, how­ev­er, he dis­tanced him­self from out­right racism. Instead, he’s sought to prove that lib­er­als have exag­ger­at­ed the scale of black oppres­sion in ear­ly Amer­i­ca, and to paint con­tem­po­rary Repub­li­cans as the cham­pi­ons of African-Amer­i­can free­dom. In one doc­u­ment on the Wall­Builders web­site, he attrib­ut­es Strom Thurmond’s 1964 break with the Democ­rats to the senator’s “dra­mat­ic change of heart on civ­il rights issues,” as if the for­mer Dix­ie­crat had turned Repub­li­can out of out­rage at seg­re­ga­tion rather than civ­il rights.

...

———–

“David Bar­ton, Chris­t­ian Schol­ar, Faces a Back­lash” by Michelle Gold­berg; The Dai­ly Beast; 08/11/2012

It’s hard to over­state how impor­tant Bar­ton has been in shap­ing the world­view of the Chris­t­ian right, and of pop­ulist con­ser­v­a­tives more gen­er­al­ly. A self-taught his­to­ri­an with a degree in reli­gious edu­ca­tion from Oral Roberts Uni­ver­si­ty, he runs a Texas-based orga­ni­za­tion called Wall­Builders, which spe­cial­izes in books and videos meant to show that the found­ing fathers were over­whelm­ing­ly “ortho­dox, evan­gel­i­cal” believ­ers who intend­ed for the Unit­ed States to be a Chris­t­ian nation. Newt Gin­grich has called his work “won­der­ful” and “most use­ful.” George W. Bush’s cam­paign hired him to do cler­gy out­reach in 2004. In 2010, Glenn Beck called him called him “the most impor­tant man in Amer­i­ca right now.” At the end of the month, he’s slat­ed to serve on the GOP’s plat­form com­mit­tee at the Repub­li­can Nation­al Con­ven­tion in Tam­pa.”

Yes, it tru­ly is hard to over­state how impor­tant David Bar­ton has been in shap­ing the world­view of the Chris­t­ian right. When Glenn Beck called Bar­ton “the most impor­tant man in Amer­i­ca right now”, this was after decades of Bar­ton’s ascen­dance as the philo­soph­i­cal leader of the move­ment. A move­ment ded­i­cat­ed to the ero­sion of the Sep­a­ra­tion of Church and State. David Bar­ton’s per­son­al quest to rede­fine the US’s own sense of his­to­ry, and ‘prove’ that the Found­ing Fathers nev­er tru­ly intend­ed to keep church and state sep­a­rate, had grown into a move­ment that had already cap­tured the hearts and minds of much of the Repub­li­can base. David Bar­ton was arguably the polit­i­cal guid­ing light for the US Chris­t­ian right through­out the 90’s and 2000’s.

And then, sud­den­ly in 2012, it seemed like Bar­ton’s star might be dim­ming. Decades after embrac­ing him, a num­ber of con­ser­v­a­tive his­to­ri­ans appeared to sud­den­ly dis­cov­er that Bar­ton’s his­tor­i­cal schol­ar­ship was rather lack­ing. Lack­ing in the sense of being gross­ly fraud­u­lent. A dam of lies was final­ly break­ing. Or at least that’s how it seemed at the time:

...
But now, sud­den­ly, Barton’s rep­u­ta­tion is in freefall, and not just among the sec­u­lar his­to­ri­ans and jour­nal­ists who have been denounc­ing him for ages. (I’m among them; I wrote exten­sive­ly about Bar­ton in my 2006 book King­dom Com­ing: The Rise of Chris­t­ian Nation­al­ism.) Ear­li­er this week, the evan­gel­i­cal World mag­a­zine pub­lished a piece about the grow­ing num­ber of con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­t­ian schol­ars ques­tion­ing his work. Then, on Thurs­day, Thomas Nel­son, the world’s largest Chris­t­ian pub­lish­er, recalled Barton’s most recent book, the best­selling The Jef­fer­son Lies, say­ing it had “lost con­fi­dence in the book’s details.”

For decades, Bar­ton has tried to write enlight­en­ment deism out of Amer­i­can his­to­ry, but it seems that by attempt­ing to turn the famous­ly free­think­ing Thomas Jef­fer­son into a pious pre­cur­sor of the mod­ern Chris­t­ian right, he final­ly went too far. “Books like that makes Chris­t­ian schol­ar­ship look bad,” says War­ren Throck­mor­ton, an evan­gel­i­cal pro­fes­sor of psy­chol­o­gy at Grove City Col­lege, a con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­t­ian school in Penn­syl­va­nia. “If that’s what peo­ple are pass­ing off as Chris­t­ian schol­ar­ship, there are claims in there that are eas­i­ly proved false.”

Throck­mor­ton and anoth­er Grove City pro­fes­sor, Michael Coul­ter, have been so dis­turbed by Barton’s dis­tor­tions that they wrote a recent rejoin­der to his Jef­fer­son book, titled Get­ting Jef­fer­son Right: Fact Check­ing Claims About Our Third Pres­i­dent. Their book appears to have inspired oth­er con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­tians final­ly to take a crit­i­cal look at Bar­ton.

...

The most seri­ous of Barton’s decep­tions involve his efforts to white­wash Jefferson’s racism, part of Barton’s broad­er project of absolv­ing the founders of the orig­i­nal sin of slav­ery, which would taint his pic­ture of the country’s divine ori­gins. His book argues, false­ly, that Jef­fer­son want­ed to free his slaves, but couldn’t do so because of Vir­ginia law. That claim so incensed some Cincin­nati-area pas­tors, both African-Amer­i­can and white, that they threat­ened a boy­cott of Thomas Nel­son pub­lish­ers. “You can’t be seri­ous about racial uni­ty in the church, while hold­ing up Jef­fer­son as a hero and cham­pi­on of free­dom,” one of them said in a press release.
...

And note how it’s not as if there had­n’t been warn­ing signs about Bar­ton’s intel­lec­tu­al integri­ty for years. Bar­ton got his start on the far right. He addressed the Chris­t­ian Iden­ti­ty move­men­t’s Rocky Moun­tain Bible Retreat of Pas­tor Pete Peters’ Scrip­tures for Amer­i­ca back in 1991, and then pro­ceed­ed to build a ‘main­stream’ career as a reli­gious his­to­ri­an who sought to prove that lib­er­als exag­ger­at­ed the scale of black oppres­sion in ear­ly Amer­i­ca. The warn­ings signs were there well before he was embraced by the main­stream con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment as some sort of gen­uine schol­ar:

...
Barton’s his­to­ry around race is com­pli­cat­ed. As I’ve pre­vi­ous­ly writ­ten, he got his start on the racist far right. In 1991, the Anti-Defama­tion League has report­ed, he spoke at a sum­mer gath­er­ing of Scrip­tures for Amer­i­ca, a Chris­t­ian Iden­ti­ty group. A fringe creed, Chris­t­ian Iden­ti­ty holds that Jews are the Satan­ic off­spring of Eve’s liai­son with the ser­pent in the Gar­den of Eden, while Africans are a sep­a­rate species of “mud peo­ple.” Oth­er speak­ers at the meet­ing were Holo­caust denier Mal­colm Ross and white suprema­cist Richard Kel­ly Hoskins. That fall, Bar­ton was fea­tured at anoth­er Chris­tian­i­ty Iden­ti­ty gath­er­ing, in Ore­gon.

As Bar­ton went main­stream, how­ev­er, he dis­tanced him­self from out­right racism. Instead, he’s sought to prove that lib­er­als have exag­ger­at­ed the scale of black oppres­sion in ear­ly Amer­i­ca, and to paint con­tem­po­rary Repub­li­cans as the cham­pi­ons of African-Amer­i­can free­dom. In one doc­u­ment on the Wall­Builders web­site, he attrib­ut­es Strom Thurmond’s 1964 break with the Democ­rats to the senator’s “dra­mat­ic change of heart on civ­il rights issues,” as if the for­mer Dix­ie­crat had turned Repub­li­can out of out­rage at seg­re­ga­tion rather than civ­il rights.
...

The guy got his start in the Chris­t­ian Iden­ti­ty move­ment and went main­stream from there. It’s a tru­ly dis­turb­ing career path. And as the fol­low­ing 2011 SPLC pro­file of Bar­ton makes clear, Bar­ton isn’t just a theo­crat. He’s specif­i­cal­ly a Sev­en Moun­tains Domin­ion­ism theo­crat. The kind of theo­crat who incor­po­rates a divine man­date to seize polit­i­cal pow­er into their the­ol­o­gy. And the kind of theo­crat whose the­ol­o­gy just hap­pens to align with the whims of large cor­po­ra­tions. The kind of theo­crat who claims Jesus and the Bible oppose min­i­mum wage laws, unions, and pro­tect­ing the envi­ron­ment. In oth­er words, David Bar­ton was the per­fect Repub­li­can theo­crat, so it’s no won­der the par­ty was will­ing to look past his ahis­tor­i­cal short­com­ings:

South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter

David Bar­ton – Extrem­ist ‘His­to­ri­an’ for the Chris­t­ian Right

Eve­lyn Schlat­ter
May 05, 2011

The New York Times today pub­lished an arti­cle about David Bar­ton, a self-edu­cat­ed, pseu­do-his­to­ri­an who advis­es sev­er­al promi­nent right-wing polit­i­cal fig­ures, includ­ing Newt Gin­grich, Michele Bach­mann, Mike Huck­abee and Kansas Gov. Sam Brown­back. Huck­abee, in fact, recent­ly said at a reli­gious-right con­fer­ence that he wished all Amer­i­cans could be “forced — forced at gun­point no less — to lis­ten to every David Bar­ton mes­sage, and I think our coun­try would be bet­ter for it.”

Named by Time as one of the nation’s 25 most influ­en­tial evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tians in 2005, Bar­ton is best known for ped­dling his­tor­i­cal dis­tor­tions pro­mot­ing his view that Amer­i­ca was found­ed as a Chris­t­ian, rather than sec­u­lar, nation. He served as vice chair­man of the Texas Repub­li­can Par­ty from 1997 to 2006, and he was hired in 2004 by the Repub­li­can Nation­al Com­mit­tee to mobi­lize Chris­tians for Pres­i­dent George W. Bush’s re-elec­tion cam­paign. Since then, he has also become Glenn Beck­’s unof­fi­cial “his­to­ri­an” (Bar­ton and Beck below, recent­ly in Israel).

Times reporter Erik Eck­holm not­ed that Bar­ton “has steadi­ly built a rep­u­ta­tion as a guid­ing spir­it of the reli­gious right” even as many his­to­ri­ans say he relies on flawed research. What the arti­cle didn’t reveal is the depth of Barton’s extrem­ism.

Last month, Peo­ple for the Amer­i­can Way released a report exam­in­ing Barton’s role in the reli­gious right and Repub­li­can pol­i­tics. Bar­ton, who often pro­motes con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries about elites hid­ing “the truth” from aver­age Amer­i­cans, sub­scribes to beliefs found in Sev­en Moun­tains Domin­ion­ism. This move­ment teach­es that cer­tain kinds of Chris­tians are meant by God to dom­i­nate every sphere of soci­ety.

Bar­ton has warned about the dan­gers of Islam but claimed that “sec­u­lar­ism presents a greater threat to Amer­i­can tra­di­tions and val­ues than does Islam” and that the Con­sti­tu­tion was not meant to be a sec­u­lar doc­u­ment. He has bat­tled mar­riage equal­i­ty and has cam­paigned for state restric­tions on legal equal­i­ty for LGBT peo­ple. He has involved him­self in the new war on unions, claim­ing that Jesus and the Bible oppose min­i­mum wage laws.

He has also been extreme­ly active in the reli­gious right’s cam­paign against so-called “activist judges.” His 2003 book Restrain­ing Judi­cial Activism calls for the impeach­ment of fed­er­al judges who don’t inter­pret the Con­sti­tu­tion the way he does. In addi­tion, he says, mem­bers of Con­gress should use the threat of impeach­ment to intim­i­date fed­er­al judges.

Here are some oth­er notable Bar­ton activ­i­ties:

* His 2006 DVD, Set­ting the Record Straight: Amer­i­can His­to­ry in Black and White is a 90-minute effort to paint the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty as respon­si­ble for prob­lems faced by African Amer­i­cans, say­ing that Democ­rats “bam­boo­zled blacks.” He con­ve­nient­ly leaves out his­to­ry after 1965 and the rise of the racist “South­ern Strat­e­gy” with­in the Repub­li­can Par­ty.

* In 2007, Bar­ton wrote an arti­cle crit­i­cal of U.S. Rep. Kei­th Elli­son — the first Mus­lim sworn into Con­gress — in which he tout­ed the works of Robert Spencer, a right-wing author of vir­u­lent­ly anti-Mus­lim books. Spencer, along with Pam Geller, found­ed the vit­ri­olic group Stop the Islamiza­tion of Amer­i­ca, which is list­ed by the SPLC as a hate group. In 2010, Bar­ton devot­ed sev­er­al of his Wall­Builders Live radio broad­casts to crit­ics of the Park51 Project (incor­rect­ly called the “Ground Zero Mosque” by oppo­nents). One of the guests was Walid Shoe­bat, who calls him­self a for­mer PLO ter­ror­ist who con­vert­ed to Chris­tian­i­ty. On the show, Shoe­bat said that the imam lead­ing the Park51 project was try­ing to imple­ment Shari­ah law on Amer­i­ca and that “lib­er­als always agree with Mus­lims.” Bar­ton agreed.

* Bar­ton is close­ly asso­ci­at­ed with a move­ment among con­ser­v­a­tive evan­gel­i­cals to resist envi­ron­men­tal activism in church­es and to paint envi­ron­men­tal­ism as active­ly anti-Chris­t­ian. In 2009, he signed the Evan­gel­i­cal Dec­la­ra­tion on Glob­al Warm­ing, which claims that efforts to reduce car­bon diox­ide would be eco­nom­i­cal­ly dev­as­tat­ing and are there­fore against Bib­li­cal require­ments of “pro­tect­ing the poor from harm and oppres­sion.” He is active with “Resist­ing the Green Drag­on,” a project that por­trays envi­ron­men­tal­ism as “dead­ly” to human pros­per­i­ty, human life and human free­dom.

* Bar­ton has argued against immi­gra­tion reform, and claimed that God estab­lished the bor­ders of nations. He has host­ed the vicious­ly anti-immi­grant William Gheen of ALIPAC on his radio show. Gheen gar­nered nation­al atten­tion in the spring of 2010 when he demand­ed that U.S. Sen. Lind­say Gra­ham (R‑S.C.) come out as gay. His refusal to do so, Gheen claimed, allowed Pres­i­dent Oba­ma and oth­ers to black­mail him into sup­port­ing immi­gra­tion reform.

* In 2010, Bar­ton was influ­en­tial in the bat­tle to re-design the Texas state social stud­ies cur­ricu­lum in pub­lic schools to have it con­form more close­ly to a right-wing view of Amer­i­ca. Bar­ton sup­port­ed efforts to remove Dr. Mar­tin Luther King Jr. and 1960s labor activist César Chávez from school texts. As not­ed in Wash­ing­ton Month­ly, Bar­ton con­ced­ed that peo­ple like King deserved a place in his­to­ry but insist­ed they should­n’t be giv­en cred­it for advanc­ing the rights of minori­ties, because, as he put it, “Only majori­ties can expand polit­i­cal rights in Amer­i­can’s con­sti­tu­tion­al soci­ety.” Barton’s involve­ment with the text­book con­tro­ver­sy also demon­strat­ed the par­ti­san­ship behind much of his work. He claimed that since the founders “hat­ed and feared democ­ra­cy” — and cre­at­ed a repub­lic instead — text­books should refer to “repub­li­can val­ues” rather than “demo­c­ra­t­ic” ones.

* Bar­ton also believes the gov­ern­ment should reg­u­late homo­sex­u­al­i­ty, claim­ing in one of his radio shows in 2010 that “homo­sex­u­als die decades ear­li­er than het­ero­sex­u­als” and that more than half of all homo­sex­u­als have had more than 500 sex part­ners in their life­times. The claims are false.

* Bar­ton’s ear­ly activism put him in con­tact with even more extreme ele­ments. In 1991, accord­ing to a 1996 arti­cle by Rob Boston, he addressed the Rocky Moun­tain Bible Retreat of Pas­tor Pete Peters’ Scrip­tures for Amer­i­ca. Peters pro­motes the racist and anti-Semit­ic “Chris­t­ian Iden­ti­ty” the­ol­o­gy, which claims that white Anglo-Sax­ons are the “true” cho­sen peo­ple of the Bible. Accord­ing to the Anti-Defama­tion League, oth­er speak­ers at that event includ­ed James “Bo” Gritz, a leader of the antigov­ern­ment mili­tia move­ment, and Mal­colm Ross, a Holo­caust denier from Cana­da. Lat­er that year, Bar­ton addressed anoth­er Chris­t­ian Iden­ti­ty front group — the King­dom Covenant Col­lege in Grants Pass, Ore­gon, which had ties to Peters. Bar­ton’s assis­tant at the time, Kit Mar­shall, claimed they had no idea about Peters’ beliefs, even though Bar­ton addressed the groups twice dur­ing the course of a year.

...

————

“David Bar­ton – Extrem­ist ‘His­to­ri­an’ for the Chris­t­ian Right” by Eve­lyn Schlat­ter; South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter; 05/05/2011

“Last month, Peo­ple for the Amer­i­can Way released a report exam­in­ing Barton’s role in the reli­gious right and Repub­li­can pol­i­tics. Bar­ton, who often pro­motes con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries about elites hid­ing “the truth” from aver­age Amer­i­cans, sub­scribes to beliefs found in Sev­en Moun­tains Domin­ion­ism. This move­ment teach­es that cer­tain kinds of Chris­tians are meant by God to dom­i­nate every sphere of soci­ety.

It’s not just a theoc­ra­cy they’re try­ing to build. It’s a Domin­ion­ist Theoc­ra­cy along the lines of ‘Sev­en Moun­tains’ Domin­ion­ism. Recall how Don­ald Trump’s clos­est ‘spir­i­tu­al advi­sor’ dur­ing his pres­i­den­cy was Paula White, a fol­low­ing of the Sev­en Moun­tains the­ol­o­gy. Trump select­ed her as chair of his Evan­gel­i­cal Advi­so­ry Board and appoint­ed her as spe­cial advi­sor to the White House Faith and Oppor­tu­ni­ty Ini­tia­tive. Oth­er Sev­en Moun­tain evan­gel­i­cal lead­ers have effec­tive­ly tied the the­ol­o­gy into the QAnon nar­ra­tive, a nar­ra­tive that puts Trump at the cen­ter of a bat­tle between good and evil. And while the Sev­en Moun­tains doc­trine my sound like some obscure cult to out­siders, the real­i­ty is that David Bar­ton has been one of the most influ­en­tial and revered Chris­t­ian lead­ers inside the Repub­li­can Par­ty for decades. And it’s no sur­prise why. Bar­ton’s ver­sion of Chris­tian­i­ty is a GOP oli­garch’s dream, with dec­la­ra­tions like unions and min­i­mum wage laws being in oppo­si­tion to the Bible:

...
Named by Time as one of the nation’s 25 most influ­en­tial evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tians in 2005, Bar­ton is best known for ped­dling his­tor­i­cal dis­tor­tions pro­mot­ing his view that Amer­i­ca was found­ed as a Chris­t­ian, rather than sec­u­lar, nation. He served as vice chair­man of the Texas Repub­li­can Par­ty from 1997 to 2006, and he was hired in 2004 by the Repub­li­can Nation­al Com­mit­tee to mobi­lize Chris­tians for Pres­i­dent George W. Bush’s re-elec­tion cam­paign. Since then, he has also become Glenn Beck­’s unof­fi­cial “his­to­ri­an” (Bar­ton and Beck below, recent­ly in Israel).

...

Bar­ton has warned about the dan­gers of Islam but claimed that “sec­u­lar­ism presents a greater threat to Amer­i­can tra­di­tions and val­ues than does Islam” and that the Con­sti­tu­tion was not meant to be a sec­u­lar doc­u­ment. He has bat­tled mar­riage equal­i­ty and has cam­paigned for state restric­tions on legal equal­i­ty for LGBT peo­ple. He has involved him­self in the new war on unions, claim­ing that Jesus and the Bible oppose min­i­mum wage laws.

He has also been extreme­ly active in the reli­gious right’s cam­paign against so-called “activist judges.” His 2003 book Restrain­ing Judi­cial Activism calls for the impeach­ment of fed­er­al judges who don’t inter­pret the Con­sti­tu­tion the way he does. In addi­tion, he says, mem­bers of Con­gress should use the threat of impeach­ment to intim­i­date fed­er­al judges.

...

* Bar­ton is close­ly asso­ci­at­ed with a move­ment among con­ser­v­a­tive evan­gel­i­cals to resist envi­ron­men­tal activism in church­es and to paint envi­ron­men­tal­ism as active­ly anti-Chris­t­ian. In 2009, he signed the Evan­gel­i­cal Dec­la­ra­tion on Glob­al Warm­ing, which claims that efforts to reduce car­bon diox­ide would be eco­nom­i­cal­ly dev­as­tat­ing and are there­fore against Bib­li­cal require­ments of “pro­tect­ing the poor from harm and oppres­sion.” He is active with “Resist­ing the Green Drag­on,” a project that por­trays envi­ron­men­tal­ism as “dead­ly” to human pros­per­i­ty, human life and human free­dom.
...

It’s not hard to see what the back­lash Bar­ton expe­ri­enced in 2012 end­ed up being lit­tle more than a slap on the wrist. Bar­ton is like the liv­ing man­i­fes­ta­tion of fusion of hard right Chris­t­ian the­ol­o­gy with cor­po­rate inter­ests. He’ll lit­er­al­ly rewrite his­to­ry to ben­e­fit those inter­ests.

David Barton’s Constitutional Overhaul. Which Happens to be the Koch’s Constitutional Overhaul

And as the fol­low­ing 2019 piece from The Cen­ter for Media and Democ­ra­cy describes, Bar­ton does­n’t just work on rewrit­ing Amer­i­can his­to­ry for the ben­e­fit of pow­er­ful inter­ests. It turns out Wall­Builders group is one of the part­ners with the Koch-backed Con­ven­tion of States (COS) effort to over­haul the US con­sti­tu­tion. As we’ve seen, the Koch net­work of mega-donors has spent decades invest­ing in trig­ger­ing an Arti­cle V Con­sti­tu­tion­al Con­ven­tion, threat­en­ing to rewrite the con­sti­tu­tion accord­ing to the whims of the Koch mega-donor net­work. Wall­Builders is part of that effort. Because of course it is. This is entire­ly con­sis­tent with David Bar­ton’s work:

The Cen­ter for Media and Democ­ra­cy’s PRWatch

Con­ven­tion of States Fires Up Base for Push to Rewrite U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion

Sub­mit­ted by David Armi­ak on August 23, 2019 — 1:37pm

Con­ven­tion of States Action (COS) kicked off its first “Lead­er­ship Sum­mit” in Colo­nial Williams­burg, Vir­ginia today. COS, a project of Mark Meck­ler and Eric O’Keefe’s Cit­i­zens for Self-Gov­er­nance, claims that “hun­dreds” of activists, state direc­tors, and coor­di­na­tors from all 50 states will attend to get inspired and learn strate­gies for pass­ing COS res­o­lu­tions in the states call­ing for a con­sti­tu­tion­al con­ven­tion to rewrite the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion.

Fif­teen states have passed the group’s appli­ca­tions so far, with 17 more states con­sid­er­ing the res­o­lu­tion this year, accord­ing to COS. Wis­con­sin recent­ly intro­duced a COS res­o­lu­tion, which would bump the num­ber up to 18.

A con­sti­tu­tion­al con­ven­tion has nev­er been held since the Con­sti­tu­tion was adopt­ed, and COS will need 34 states to file appli­ca­tions in order for it to occur. If that hap­pens, COS plans to move an array of sweep­ing amend­ments to rede­fine key parts of the Con­sti­tu­tion and rad­i­cal­ly weak­en the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment.

COS has ties to the Amer­i­can Leg­isla­tive Exchange Coun­cil (ALEC), the Nation­al Rifle Asso­ci­a­tion, the right-wing mili­tia group Three Per­centers, and the Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist group Wall­Builders.

More than 200 civ­il rights and pub­lic inter­est groups, includ­ing the Cen­ter for Media and Democ­ra­cy (CMD), signed a let­ter last year denounc­ing such con­sti­tu­tion­al con­ven­tion calls as “a threat to every Amer­i­can’s con­sti­tu­tion­al rights and civ­il lib­er­ties.”

Right-Wing Extrem­ists to Speak

Fox News anchor Pete Hegseth, from Trump’s beloved Fox & Friends, addressed the crowd this morn­ing, telling them that the Left hates the Con­sti­tu­tion, the found­ing fathers under­stood that the word of “Jesus Christ our sav­ior” is the guid­ing force for our coun­try, and that there “is no oth­er free­dom-lov­ing bas­tion in the world that val­ues the indi­vid­ual with God-endowed rights.”

And, ref­er­enc­ing the Three Per­centers like­ly in atten­dance, Hegseth said, “it has always been the one per­cent or two per­cent or three per­cent of peo­ple that get it, that are will­ing to buck the comfi­ness of their moment and the estab­lished norms that every­one is com­fort­able with, will­ing to be defi­ant, will­ing to stand — be accused of being rad­i­cal about things that are not rad­i­cal at all.”

Recent­ly, Hegseth has made some rad­i­cal com­ments him­self, say­ing that Con­gress­woman Rashi­da Tlaib (MI‑D) has a “Hamas agen­da,” imply­ing that she works with a U.S. des­ig­nat­ed ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion.

Hegseth has also pub­licly defend­ed Sec­re­tary of Edu­ca­tion Bet­sy DeVos’s broth­er Erik Prince’s Black­wa­ter con­trac­tors, who were con­vict­ed of mur­der­ing Iraqi cit­i­zens, and has called cli­mate change a “reli­gion” that Democ­rats use to “con­trol” peo­ple.

David Bar­ton warmed up the crowd with a his­to­ry lec­ture on the Con­sti­tu­tion’s basis in fixed moral stan­dards based on nat­ur­al law and scrip­ture, and drew applause with his claim that the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment has “emas­cu­lat­ed the states.”

A Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist with strong anti-LGBT views. Bar­ton once said,

“There’s a pas­sage that I love in Romans 1. ... [I]t talks about homo­sex­u­al­i­ty and it says that they will receive in their bod­ies the penal­ties of their behav­ior. ... The Bible [is] right every time ... and that’s why AIDS has been some­thing they haven’t dis­cov­ered a cure for or a vac­cine for. ... And that goes to what God says, ‘Hey you’re going to bear in your body the con­se­quences of this homo­sex­u­al behav­ior.’ ”

Bar­ton found­ed the group Wall­Builders, which has worked with Focus on the Fam­i­ly and the Fam­i­ly Pol­i­cy Alliance to influ­ence judi­cial elec­tions and selec­tion rules in states across the coun­try, the Cen­ter for Media and Democ­ra­cy detailed.

Wall­Builders also works with the Con­gres­sion­al Prayer Cau­cus Foun­da­tion to push out Chris­t­ian-Right mod­el leg­is­la­tion in the mold of ALEC to state law­mak­ers under the name Project Blitz.

Also in line to speak at the Sum­mit is one of the NRA’s top attor­neys, Charles Coop­er. Coop­er will speak on, “The Real Threat to Gun Rights.” In an email to COS activists, Coop­er is quot­ed as say­ing:

“The real threat to our con­sti­tu­tion­al rights today is posed not by an Arti­cle V Con­ven­tion of States, but by an out-of-con­trol fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, exer­cis­ing pow­ers that it does not have and abus­ing pow­ers that it does.”

COS mate­ri­als in recent years have argued that a con­sti­tu­tion­al con­ven­tion could be used to rewrite the Sec­ond Amend­ment in order to make it Supreme-Court-proof.

Oth­ers on the agen­da to speak include found­ing board mem­ber Eric O’Keefe, for­mer pro­fes­sor Rob Natel­son, for­mer U.S. Sen­a­tor and COS Senior Advi­sor Tom Coburn, and the right-wing author of Lib­er­ty Amend­ments Mark Levin.

But the stars of the sum­mit are like­ly to be the actors COS will have play the found­ing fathers Patrick Hen­ry, James Madi­son, and George Wash­ing­ton.

...

———–

“Con­ven­tion of States Fires Up Base for Push to Rewrite U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion” by David Armi­ak; PRWatch; 08/23/2019

“David Bar­ton warmed up the crowd with a his­to­ry lec­ture on the Con­sti­tu­tion’s basis in fixed moral stan­dards based on nat­ur­al law and scrip­ture, and drew applause with his claim that the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment has “emas­cu­lat­ed the states.””

The COS is a shared project of the right-wing oli­garchy. It’s arguably their end goal. So of course we find David Bar­ton’s Wall­Builders involved with the move­ment. Over­haul­ing the con­sti­tu­tion aligns per­fect­ly with both his theo­crat­ic and pro-busi­ness agen­das:

...
Bar­ton found­ed the group Wall­Builders, which has worked with Focus on the Fam­i­ly and the Fam­i­ly Pol­i­cy Alliance to influ­ence judi­cial elec­tions and selec­tion rules in states across the coun­try, the Cen­ter for Media and Democ­ra­cy detailed.

Wall­Builders also works with the Con­gres­sion­al Prayer Cau­cus Foun­da­tion to push out Chris­t­ian-Right mod­el leg­is­la­tion in the mold of ALEC to state law­mak­ers under the name Project Blitz.
...

And note that, while the COS is tech­ni­cal­ly a project of Mark Meck­ler and Eric O’Keefe’s Cit­i­zens for Self-Gov­er­nance, it’s real­ly a Koch-backed project. That’s why this group is able to get so many state leg­is­la­tors to buy into this effort. This is a project of the oli­garchy.

The Council for National Policy (CNP) and the Capture of the US Government

And as we’re going to see in the next arti­cle excerpt, it turns out Meck­ler is and Gold Cir­cle mem­ber of anoth­er group: the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy. Bar­ton is a mem­ber too. Along with a large num­ber of the rest of the fig­ures in the con­ser­v­a­tive estab­lish­ment who played impor­tant roles in the Trump 2020 reelec­tion efforts. And in some cas­es key roles in the prepa­ra­tion for the theft of the 2020 elec­tion. For exam­ple, Steve Ban­non and Kellyanne Con­way both show up on CNP mem­ber­ship lists.

The fact that the CNP had its hands all over the efforts to reelect Trump isn’t par­tic­u­lar­ly sur­pris­ing or remark­able. What is remark­able is how exten­sive­ly the CNP was plan­ning on over­turn­ing the pop­u­lar vote and steal­ing the elec­tion months before the first votes were cast. CNP mem­bers Richard Viguerie, Stephen Moore, Jen­ny Beth Mar­tin, Adam Bran­don, and Lisa Nel­son, the CEO of ALEC, were all involved in CNP-backed efforts to get Trump reelect­ed in 2020. Dirty efforts. For exam­ple, Nel­son report­ed­ly informed the CNP in Feb­ru­ary of 2020 that ALEC was work­ing with Repub­li­can lawyers to strate­gize paths “that leg­is­la­tors can take to ques­tion the valid­i­ty of an elec­tion.” And one of those Repub­li­can lawyers was none oth­er than CNP-mem­ber Cle­ta Mitchell, who began strate­giz­ing in prepa­ra­tion for ques­tion­ing the 2020 elec­tion results as ear­ly as August 2019.

And, again, while Project Blitz is not tech­ni­cal­ly a CNP project, it’s basi­cal­ly the same net­work of peo­ple behind it. The CNP is the enti­ty through with Chris­t­ian theocrats and big busi­ness inter­ests for­mal­ized their long-stand­ing alliance in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics. A fas­cist theo­crat­ic alliance that heav­i­ly over­laps the Koch net­work. From ALEC to COS to Project Blitz, all of these enti­ties are oper­at­ed by rough­ly the same net­works of peo­ple and for the same under­ly­ing pur­pose: the cap­ture of pow­er by pri­vate inter­ests. Projects like COS and Project Blitz could be seen as cov­er-sto­ries for that cap­ture of pow­er. And as this net­work made abun­dant­ly clear in 2020, that agen­da of cap­tur­ing pow­er includes over­turn­ing the elec­tion results. The cap­ture of democ­ra­cy was on the CNP agen­da through­out 2020, lead­ing all the way up to the Jan­u­ary 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion:

The Wash­ing­ton Spec­ta­tor

How the CNP, a Repub­li­can Pow­er­house, Helped Spawn Trump­ism, Dis­rupt­ed the Trans­fer of Pow­er, and Stoked the Assault on the Capi­tol

by Anne Nel­son
Feb 22, 2021

On Jan­u­ary 6, 2021, a stunned nation watched as pro­test­ers stormed the Capi­tol to pre­vent the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of the elec­toral votes from the Novem­ber elec­tion. The effort failed, but not with­out shin­ing a harsh light on the fault lines of Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy.

In the weeks that fol­lowed, ana­lysts have strug­gled to define how much of the incur­sion was the spon­ta­neous result of a “riot”—or a “peace­ful protest” gone wrong—and how much was the result of a planned oper­a­tion.

One major play­er in the events lead­ing up to the assault on the Capi­tol was the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy, an influ­en­tial coali­tion of Chris­t­ian con­ser­v­a­tives, free-mar­ket fun­da­men­tal­ists, and polit­i­cal activists. Over the pre­vi­ous year the CNP and its mem­bers and affil­i­ates orga­nized efforts to chal­lenge the valid­i­ty of the elec­tion, con­spired to over­turn its results, and tried to derail the order­ly trans­fer of pow­er. This is an account of the mea­sures they took, lead­ing up to the dead­ly Jan­u­ary 6 insur­rec­tion.

The Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy was found­ed in 1981 by a group of tel­e­van­ge­lists, West­ern oli­garchs, and Repub­li­can strate­gists to cap­i­tal­ize on Ronald Reagan’s elec­toral vic­to­ry the pre­vi­ous year. From the begin­ning, its goals rep­re­sent­ed a con­ver­gence of the inter­ests of these three groups: a retreat from advances in civ­il and polit­i­cal rights for women and minori­ties, tax cuts for the wealthy, and raw polit­i­cal pow­er. Oper­at­ing from the shad­ows, its mem­bers, who would num­ber some 400, spent the next four decades court­ing, buy­ing, and bul­ly­ing fel­low Repub­li­cans, grad­u­al­ly achiev­ing what was in effect a lever­aged buy­out of the GOP. Favorite sons, such as Josh Haw­ley and Ted Cruz, were groomed, financed, and sup­port­ed. Apos­tates, such as John McCain and Jeff Flake, were pun­ished and exiled. The lead­ers of the CNP tend­ed to favor their con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­t­ian co-reli­gion­ists, but polit­i­cal expe­di­ence came first.

In 2016, the CNP put its part­ners’ mon­ey, data, and ground game behind Don­ald Trump, as the ulti­mate trans­ac­tion­al can­di­date. Trump promised it ret­ro­grade social poli­cies, a favor­able tax regime, reg­u­la­to­ry retreats, and its choice of fed­er­al judges. He deliv­ered in spades. By 2020, the lead­ers of the CNP were ready to go to extreme lengths to keep him—and themselves—in pow­er.

Over the final year of the Trump pres­i­den­cy, the CNP took cen­ter stage. By Jan­u­ary 2020, its lead­ing fig­ures had become sought-after guests on talk shows and fre­quent vis­i­tors to the White House. Many of its stat­ed goals had been advanced. By March, the Repub­li­can Sen­ate had con­firmed more than 185 of Trump’s con­ser­v­a­tive nom­i­nees for the fed­er­al bench. All but eight of the judges had ties to the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety, head­ed by long­time CNP mem­bers Eugene Mey­er and Leonard Leo. Two of the CNP’s favored Supreme Court nom­i­nees, Neil Gor­such and Brett Kavanaugh, had been con­firmed. The court was only one jus­tice away from a con­ser­v­a­tive major­i­ty, and the CNP had its eye on the seat held by Ruth Bad­er Gins­burg. With a sec­ond term in office and nor­mal attri­tion, Trump could deci­sive­ly tilt the fed­er­al courts, open­ing the door for a mas­sive over­haul of the Amer­i­can legal frame­work.

Many ini­tia­tives that were pend­ing in the courts had been addressed by fiat. Trump rolled back scores of envi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions cre­at­ed to pro­tect air qual­i­ty, potable water sup­plies, and wildlife, as a quid pro quo for the sup­port he received from CNP’s favored oil and gas inter­ests. His admin­is­tra­tion dec­i­mat­ed the bud­gets and per­son­nel of fed­er­al agen­cies assigned to pro­tect pub­lic health, pub­lic safe­ty, and pub­lic lands, includ­ing the Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture, and the Nation­al Park Ser­vice, to the ben­e­fit of cor­po­ra­tions and extrac­tive indus­tries. There was also notable progress on CNP’s social agen­da, with the ero­sion and roll­back of the rights of LGBT pop­u­la­tions, women, and minori­ties in the courts and state leg­is­la­tures.

The CNP’s plu­to­crats were pleased with what they had wrought. The “tax reform” enact­ed by Trump and the Repub­li­can Sen­ate con­cen­trat­ed ever greater wealth in the hands of America’s most afflu­ent indi­vid­u­als through tax cuts for cor­po­ra­tions and the rich, dri­ving income inequal­i­ty to the high­est lev­els in 50 years. The country’s tax rev­enues as a share of gross domes­tic prod­uct plum­met­ed, and bud­get gaps widened, but Republicans—who had made a career of loud­ly con­demn­ing deficit spending—remained mute as long as the mea­sures ben­e­fit­ed the mon­eyed class instead of those who need­ed help. Don­ald Trump remained a depend­able ally, ask­ing only for an audi­ence for his mega­lo­ma­nia and a free pass for the busi­ness inter­ests of the “Trump brand.” In return, he deliv­ered his dynamism and his unshake­able base. This state of affairs was so sat­is­fac­to­ry that the Repub­li­can Par­ty decid­ed not to both­er draft­ing a new par­ty plat­form for the 2020 elec­tion. Instead, it recy­cled the 2016 plat­form, which includ­ed for­mer CNP Pres­i­dent Tony Perkins’s drafts oppos­ing mar­riage equal­i­ty and pro­mot­ing con­ver­sion ther­a­py.

Ulti­mate real­iza­tion of the CNP’s agen­da depend­ed on win­ning a sec­ond term for Trump in Novem­ber. With anoth­er four years, it could enshrine its social­ly regres­sive poli­cies on the fed­er­al lev­el, fur­ther blur the line between church and state, and con­sol­i­date huge wind­falls for cor­po­ra­tions and wealthy indi­vid­u­als. As of Jan­u­ary 1, elec­toral prospects looked sweet. The Repub­li­cans’ strongest suit was the econ­o­my. Mas­sive tax cuts had flood­ed cor­po­ra­tions with cash, which, as crit­ics of the tax bill had pre­dict­ed, they used to buy back their stock and dri­ve up share prices 28 per­cent in 2019. This boost­ed Trump’s pop­u­lar­i­ty among the 55 per­cent of Amer­i­cans who report­ed own­ing stocks, but did lit­tle to spur the growth Repub­li­cans had promised would off­set the soar­ing deficits.

On the tac­ti­cal front, it seemed as though the Trump team had found a win­ning for­mu­la. Ralph Reed, a mem­ber of the CNP’s board of gov­er­nors (also known as a cen­tral fig­ure in the scan­dal involv­ing dis­graced lob­by­ist Jack Abramoff), con­tin­ued to employ his Faith and Free­dom Coali­tion and its part­ner, Unit­ed in Pur­pose, to get out the vote among con­ser­v­a­tive white Chris­tians in crit­i­cal swing states, expand­ing their tar­get­ing from evan­gel­i­cals to Catholics.

The coalition’s data and app devel­op­ment also advanced. The uCam­paign apps devel­oped by Thomas Peters had served their pur­pose in the 2016 and 2018 elec­tions, but they were due for an upgrade. In late 2019, word began to cir­cu­late that Trump’s cam­paign man­ag­er, Brad Parscale, was prepar­ing to release the Trump 2020 app, a com­po­nent of what he labeled a “jug­ger­naut cam­paign.” Parscale had qui­et­ly tak­en over Trump’s dig­i­tal oper­a­tions and planned to use the new app as part of a broad­er strat­e­gy. Trump 2020 was designed to lever­age uCam­paign fea­tures such as gam­i­fi­ca­tion (award­ing points and prizes for par­tic­i­pat­ing in cam­paign activ­i­ties and shar­ing con­tacts). It also expand­ed the use of geolo­ca­tion devices to recruit and har­vest data from atten­dees of Trump ral­lies. The crowds, ener­gized by Trump’s live per­for­mances, would be invit­ed to down­load the app and recruit oth­ers across their social net­works. The ral­lies were a cru­cial com­po­nent of the cam­paign. The more out­ra­geous Trump’s rhetoric on the podi­um, the more earned media cov­er­age he received. In con­trast, the Democ­rats were still in dis­ar­ray, with a dozen pri­ma­ry can­di­dates com­pet­ing for frag­ment­ed press cov­er­age and no clear front-run­ner.

Then, on Jan­u­ary 20, 2020, doc­tors diag­nosed the first con­firmed case of Covid-19 in the Unit­ed States.

The patient was a man who had just returned to Sno­homish Coun­ty, Wash­ing­ton, from a fam­i­ly vis­it to Wuhan, Chi­na. The virus spread across Wash­ing­ton State, then rav­aged New York City and New Orleans. The first U.S. Covid death was report­ed as occur­ring on Feb­ru­ary 6. On Feb­ru­ary 20, the glob­al stock mar­ket went into a free fall that didn’t abate until April. Bloomberg News called it the Great Coro­n­avirus Crash.

Trump’s reelec­tion strat­e­gy rest­ed on a thriv­ing econ­o­my, as well as mass ral­lies and in-church recruit­ment. Now pub­lic health offi­cials were urg­ing lock­downs that would derail both the econ­o­my and the gath­er­ings. Trump’s CNP sup­port­ers stepped up to the plate.

The CNP’s meet­ings had long fea­tured brief­in­gs on forth­com­ing elec­tions by mem­bers and allies, fol­lowed by a mem­o­ran­dum con­tain­ing a series of “Action Steps.” The Octo­ber 2018 meeting’s action steps, for exam­ple, called for mem­bers to “Vol­un­teer and Con­tribute to key can­di­dates and orga­ni­za­tions (Free­dom­Works, Tea Par­ty Patri­ots, [anti-abor­tion group] Susan B. Antho­ny List) that are engaged in turn­ing out vot­ers” for the midterms.

But by Feb­ru­ary 2020, the CNP, fear­ing the ero­sion of Trump’s sup­port, shift­ed its strat­e­gy from boost­ing the pop­u­lar vote to deflect­ing it. Lisa Nel­son, the CEO of the Amer­i­can Leg­isla­tive Exchange Coun­cil, told the group, “We’ve been focused on the nation­al vote, and obvi­ous­ly we all want Pres­i­dent Trump to win, and win the nation­al vote, but it’s very clear from all the com­ments and all the sug­ges­tions up front that, real­ly, what it comes down to is the states, and the state leg­is­la­tors.” Her orga­ni­za­tion, she told them, had already draft­ed a mod­el res­o­lu­tion “to make sure there’s no con­fu­sion among con­ser­v­a­tive leg­is­la­tors around nation­al pop­u­lar vote and the Elec­toral Col­lege.”

Nel­son not­ed that her group was explor­ing addi­tion­al ways to inval­i­date a poten­tial Trump loss in con­sul­ta­tion with three elec­tion experts, includ­ing CNP board of gov­er­nors mem­ber Cle­ta Mitchell, “who I know you all know, on try­ing to iden­ti­fy what are those action items that leg­is­la­tors can take in their states, and I think that they’ve iden­ti­fied a few. They can write a let­ter to the sec­re­tary of state, ques­tion­ing the valid­i­ty of an elec­tion, and say­ing, ‘What did hap­pen that night?’ So we are draft­ing a lot of those things. If you have ideas in that area, let us know, and we’ll get them to the state leg­is­la­tors, and they can start to kind of exer­cise their polit­i­cal mus­cle in that area.”

So as ear­ly as Feb­ru­ary 2020, the CNP and its advis­ers were already antic­i­pat­ing var­i­ous strate­gies to over­turn the results of the elec­tion in the event of the loss of either the pop­u­lar vote or the Elec­toral Col­lege, or both. At the same time, they adopt­ed a three-pronged approach to enhanc­ing Trump’s chances in Novem­ber. The first involved expand­ing their use of data to juice Repub­li­can votes and sup­press Demo­c­ra­t­ic turnout. The sec­ond was to mobi­lize sup­port­ers in swing states to ignite Tea Party–like protests against the virus-relat­ed pub­lic safe­ty lock­downs. The third was to deploy physi­cians with dubi­ous cre­den­tials to dis­miss the dan­gers of Covid-19 through a mas­sive media blitz. All three ini­tia­tives were acti­vat­ed in April. It was a rehash of a famil­iar for­mu­la, con­coct­ing groups whose names and URLs changed with dizzy­ing speed and call­ing them “grass­roots” orga­ni­za­tions. (Crit­ics pre­ferred the term “astro­turf.”)

Unit­ed in Pur­pose took the lead. In June 2016, UiP had con­vened the epic Times Square gath­er­ing of 1,000 fun­da­men­tal­ist activists to give Trump their bless­ing. Now, over the spring of 2020, UiP held a series of con­fer­ence calls to update its strat­e­gy. One call—a record­ing of which was leaked to The Inter­cept reporter Lee Fang—took place in mid-April. UiP Chair­man Ken Eldred told his asso­ciates on the call that the Covid-19 virus was a “gift from God” because it was turn­ing Amer­i­cans back to Christ and build­ing audi­ences for reli­gious broadcasts—which had been cru­cial plat­forms for polit­i­cal cam­paigns. But “Satan has been busy too,” Eldred warned. “The virus has messed up many of our plans involv­ing our in-per­son meet­ings with vot­ers.” UiP called its 2020 cam­paign “Oper­a­tion Zik­lag” (named after a Bib­li­cal town that served as a base for the Philistines until it was won by David).

The April call fea­tured var­i­ous movers and shak­ers from the CNP. Ralph Reed spoke to the “macro polit­i­cal land­scape,” explain­ing that a key com­po­nent of the Democ­rats’ strat­e­gy was the Black vote in swing states like Michi­gan and Wis­con­sin. The Democ­rats had expe­ri­enced a sig­nif­i­cant drop-off between 2012 and 2016. “There were 47,000 few­er Black votes cast in just Mil­wau­kee Coun­ty alone,” Reed told the call participants—in Wis­con­sin, a state Trump had won by few­er than 24,000 votes.

This was not a coin­ci­dence. In Sep­tem­ber 2020, Britain’s Chan­nel 4 report­ed that the Trump cam­paign had used Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca data to pro­file and tar­get 3.5 mil­lion Black vot­ers in 2016, assign­ing them to a cat­e­go­ry the cam­paign called “Deter­rence,” with mes­sag­ing designed to sup­press the vote.

Reed told his asso­ciates that “his ‘data part­ners’ had iden­ti­fied 26 mil­lion key vot­ers in bat­tle­ground states, about three-fourths of whom were Face­book users,” The Inter­cept’s Fang report­ed. Once again, the 2020 strat­e­gy, like the 2016 efforts, would strive to get out the vote for Repub­li­cans and sup­press the vote of tra­di­tion­al Democ­rats.

Abor­tion con­tin­ued to be a major call­ing card of the cam­paign, spear­head­ed by CNP Gold Cir­cle mem­ber Mar­jorie Dan­nen­felser, the head of the Susan B. Antho­ny List. Dan­nen­felser, who had recent­ly joined the UiP alliance, told the callers that her orga­ni­za­tion had con­duct­ed sur­veys on mes­sag­ing with pro-life work­ing-class vot­ers in bat­tle­ground Rust Belt states and found that its “born alive” for­mu­la­tion on abor­tion, pro­mot­ed by Trump, “has had a tremen­dous effect in mov­ing per­suad­able vot­ers in all those areas in Repub­li­cans, Democ­rats, and Inde­pen­dents.” This would strength­en Trump’s chances in the swing states that com­prised the “north­ern path” to vic­to­ry: Michi­gan, Wis­con­sin and Penn­syl­va­nia, as well as the “south­ern path” of North Car­oli­na, Flori­da, and Ari­zona. (Geor­gia, assumed to be solid­ly in the Repub­li­can col­umn, would prove a wild card.)

The CNP’s sec­ond strat­a­gem to “reopen the econ­o­my” debuted around the same time. On April 13, The Wash­ing­ton Post’s Jeff Stein and Robert Cos­ta report­ed that White House staff had pre­sent­ed Trump with a list of “100 busi­ness exec­u­tives” who could advise him as to how to jump-start the econ­o­my. The piece quot­ed CNP co-founder Richard Viguerie, who began his career under the tute­lage of dis­graced radio evan­ge­list Bil­ly James Har­gis and went on to pio­neer the use of direct mail in polit­i­cal mar­ket­ing. “Obvi­ous­ly, the soon­er we get the econ­o­my going and back up, the bet­ter it’s going to be for con­ser­v­a­tives and Repub­li­cans,” Viguerie said. A lot of them, he added, “feel there might be an over­re­ac­tion to all of this [epi­dem­ic].”

Accord­ing to The Wash­ing­ton Post’s unnamed sources, “The out­side effort from con­ser­v­a­tive groups is expect­ed to be led by Stephen Moore, a con­ser­v­a­tive at the Her­itage Foun­da­tion who is close with White House eco­nom­ic offi­cials; Jen­ny Beth Mar­tin, co-founder of the Tea Par­ty Patri­ots; Adam Bran­don, pres­i­dent of Free­dom­Works, a con­ser­v­a­tive advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tion; and Lisa Nel­son, chief exec­u­tive of the Amer­i­can Leg­isla­tive Exchange Coun­cil (ALEC), the con­ser­v­a­tive pro-busi­ness pol­i­cy and lob­by­ing orga­ni­za­tion with ties to the Koch broth­ers.

This ini­tia­tive marked a shift in the CNP pro­file. Going into the 2016 elec­tions, the pub­lic faces of the orga­ni­za­tion had been promi­nent fun­da­men­tal­ists. Tony Perkins, CNP pres­i­dent from 2016 to 2019, is also an ordained South­ern Bap­tist min­is­ter and long­time head of the fun­da­men­tal­ist lob­by­ing group Fam­i­ly Research Coun­cil, and he has host­ed Chris­t­ian nation­al­ists Robert Jef­fress and David Bar­ton on his radio broad­casts. Almost half of Trump’s orig­i­nal Evan­gel­i­cal Advi­so­ry Board—including Perkins—were mem­bers of the CNP, and they were in and out of the Oval Office on a reg­u­lar basis. But in 2019, Perkins was suc­ceed­ed as CNP pres­i­dent by William Wal­ton, the founder and chair­man of Rap­pa­han­nock Ven­tures, a pri­vate equi­ty firm, with long ties to the Koch Broth­ers and a lim­it­ed reli­gious pro­file. In 2015, Wal­ton chaired a pan­el at the CNP, stat­ing, “Most of my career has been spent in busi­ness and on Wall Street, and I was among the first to attend the Charles Koch sem­i­nars.” Oth­er fig­ures con­nect­ed to the Koch empire ascend­ed in the CNP hier­ar­chy. Jen­ny Beth Mar­tin, who co-found­ed the Tea Par­ty Patri­ots with Koch back­ing, rose to the office of sec­re­tary. Adam Bran­don, head of the Koch-found­ed “grass­roots” orga­ni­za­tion Free­dom­Works, took a spot on the board of direc­tors of CNP Action, the organization’s lob­by­ing arm.

David Koch died in August 2019, but his broth­er Charles car­ried on. A man with no par­tic­u­lar reli­gious pro­file, Koch embarked on a “charm offen­sive,” dis­tanc­ing him­self from Trump and his fun­da­men­tal­ist allies, pre­sent­ing him­self to the media as a “uni­fi­er” (and scrub­bing the CNP’s Free Enter­prise Award from his pro­file). But his fund­ing activ­i­ties told a dif­fer­ent sto­ry. The Cen­ter for Media and Democracy’s Alec Kotch has record­ed mil­lions of dol­lars in grants from Koch and affil­i­ates such as the Donors Trust to orga­ni­za­tions run by lead­ing mem­bers of the CNP. These include ALEC, as well as the State Pol­i­cy Net­work, the Lead­er­ship Insti­tute, the Her­itage Foun­da­tion, Judi­cial Watch, and Turn­ing Point USA. Some of these groups would play impor­tant roles in attempts to dis­rupt the elec­toral process in the months ahead.

The Wash­ing­ton Post’s April sto­ry on the “100 busi­ness lead­ers” ini­tia­tive made no men­tion of the CNP, despite the fact that among the lead­ing fig­ures, Moore was on the CNP board of gov­er­nors, Nel­son was a mem­ber, and Mar­tin and Bran­don were offi­cers. Moore warned the Post that the dis­af­fec­tion of “the right” pre­sent­ed a grow­ing threat to pub­lic order, neglect­ing to men­tion the ways the CNP was stok­ing the flames. “There’s a mas­sive move­ment on the right now, grow­ing expo­nen­tial­ly,” he said. “In the next two weeks, you’ll see protests in the streets by con­ser­v­a­tives; you’ll see a big push­back against the lock­down in some states. Peo­ple are at the boil­ing point.”

The “boil­ing point” mate­ri­al­ized over the next two weeks, as Moore fore­cast, with the assis­tance of anoth­er CNP-linked effort called Con­ven­tion of States, led by Mark Meck­ler, co-founder of the Tea Par­ty Patri­ots and CNP Gold Cir­cle mem­ber. He told the Post his group would func­tion as a “clear­ing­house where all these guys can find each oth­er” and praised “spon­ta­neous cit­i­zen groups self-orga­niz­ing on the Inter­net and protest­ing what they per­ceive to be gov­ern­ment over­reach.” Ear­li­er that week, The New York Times report­ed that the coalition’s mem­bers were mobi­liz­ing their net­works for state-lev­el ral­lies, fil­ing law­suits, and com­mis­sion­ing polls, all to counter the lock­downs. “Non­prof­it groups includ­ing Free­dom­Works and Tea Par­ty Patri­ots have used their social media accounts and text and email lists to spread the word about the protests across the coun­try.” The most pub­li­cized events occurred at the Michi­gan state­house on April 15 and May 1, when armed pro­test­ers invad­ed the state Capi­tol, but these were far from the only ones.

The new “businessmen’s group,” pre­viewed in The Wash­ing­ton Post as “100 busi­ness exec­u­tives,” offi­cial­ly debuted on April 27, billed as the “Save Our Coun­try Coali­tion.” It called for a series of mea­sures to reopen the econ­o­my, fly­ing in the face of expert med­ical rec­om­men­da­tions for curb­ing the epi­dem­ic, whose U.S. death toll now approached 55,000. The CNP was heav­i­ly rep­re­sent­ed among the group’s lead­er­ship, includ­ing stal­warts such as Richard Viguerie, Ed Meese, and Ken­neth Black­well, as well as ris­ing stars Adam Bran­don, Jen­ny Beth Mar­tin, and Lisa Nel­son.

One notable addi­tion was a Cal­i­for­nia physi­cian named Dr. Simone Gold. Over the sum­mer, she emerged as a key play­er in the third prong of the CNP’s cam­paign, the war against pub­lic health pol­i­cy, the result of anoth­er set of con­fer­ence calls between Trump cam­paign staff and mem­bers of CNP Action. On one April call, pub­lished by the Cen­ter for Media and Democ­ra­cy, CNP Pres­i­dent William Wal­ton told the group, “We need to make not just the eco­nom­ic argu­ment, we need to make the health argu­ment, and we need doc­tors to make that argu­ment, not us.” With­in days, Gold began to appear across right-wing media plat­forms, pro­mot­ing the false mes­sage that hydrox­y­chloro­quine (a med­ica­tion used to treat autoim­mune dis­eases) was both a pro­phy­lac­tic and a cure for Covid-19 (as report­ed in the Sep­tem­ber 2020 Wash­ing­ton Spec­ta­tor). On June 1, The Guardian quot­ed Brandon’s report that he had raised $800,000 along the way to a $5 mil­lion mul­ti­plat­form media blitz for the cam­paign.

On July 27, Jen­ny Beth Mar­tin, Gold, and a dozen oth­er physi­cians held a Wash­ing­ton, D.C., press con­fer­ence to deliv­er their dan­ger­ous mes­sage. The video reached mil­lions of view­ers on Bre­it­bart and Pres­i­dent Trump’s and Don­ald Trump Jr.’s Twit­ter feeds. Major social media plat­forms quick­ly removed it as a vio­la­tion of their Covid-19 mis­in­for­ma­tion poli­cies, but Gold’s mes­sage has con­tin­ued to cir­cu­late on alter­na­tive plat­forms.

...

Trump and the CNP dou­bled down. On August 19, the CNP opened its meet­ing at the Ritz-Carl­ton in Pen­ta­gon City with a pan­el fea­tur­ing attor­ney Sid­ney Pow­ell. Two days lat­er, Don­ald Trump addressed the CNP in his sin­gle major con­ven­tion-eve event. Over chants of “USA! USA!” Trump acknowl­edged key sup­port­ers by name, includ­ing CNP Pres­i­dent William Wal­ton, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Bob McEwen, and Sec­re­tary Jen­ny Beth Mar­tin. His ram­bling speech attacked famil­iar ene­mies and laud­ed famil­iar friends, includ­ing evan­gel­i­cals, extrac­tive indus­tries, and the gun lob­by. Pho­tos from the event showed sev­er­al hun­dred tight­ly packed, unmasked guests in the ball­room. That afternoon’s pro­gram fea­tured attor­ney Cle­ta Mitchell, an Okla­homa native and a long­time CNP board of gov­er­nors mem­ber, on pan­els called “Elec­tion Integri­ty: Secur­ing the Bal­lot Box” and “Elec­tion Integri­ty: Action Steps.” Exec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­ber Brent Bozell III told his fel­low mem­bers that the left plans to “steal this elec­tion.”

“And if they get away with that, what hap­pens?” Bozell demand­ed. “Democ­ra­cy is fin­ished because they ush­er in total­i­tar­i­an­ism.”

Trump’s speech to the CNP was released by the White House and wide­ly cov­ered by the nation­al press, but news orga­ni­za­tions gave short shrift to the CNP and the scope of its oper­a­tions. (The New York Times, for exam­ple, iden­ti­fied it as mere­ly “a con­ser­v­a­tive group.”)

But the CNP was becom­ing less of a mys­tery. Over the pre­vi­ous months, a small band of researchers had made sig­nif­i­cant progress in shin­ing a light on the organization’s agen­da. Brent All­press, an aca­d­e­m­ic in Aus­tralia, found a back door into its online archives and began to access records of past meet­ings, which were used in a British doc­u­men­tary called Peo­ple You May Know (in which this reporter also appears). Two watch­dog orga­ni­za­tions stepped up their mon­i­tor­ing of the CNP: The Cen­ter for Media and Democ­ra­cy added new fund­ing streams and strate­gic ini­tia­tives, as well as pub­lish­ing CNP files sourced from Brent All­press, and Doc­u­ment­ed found addi­tion­al CNP meet­ing mate­ri­als. Both groups post­ed meet­ing agen­das, videos of pre­sen­ta­tions, and—critically—the updat­ed mem­ber­ship ros­ters for Sep­tem­ber 2020 that All­press had accessed. CNP had inten­tion­al­ly ele­vat­ed its pro­file, but now it was in dan­ger of los­ing its cloak alto­geth­er.

The rest of the August CNP meet­ing was held under the usu­al con­di­tions of secre­cy, but this time its pro­ceed­ings were leaked to Wash­ing­ton Post reporter Robert O’Harrow Jr., who pub­lished an account on Octo­ber 14. The CNP lead­ers were sound­ing notes of alarm. “This is a spir­i­tu­al bat­tle. This is good ver­sus evil,” CNP pres­i­dent Wal­ton told the group. “We have to do every­thing pos­si­ble to win.” Trump’s dis­as­trous han­dling of the Covid-19 cri­sis was hurt­ing his chances at the polls, and Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers were new­ly ener­gized. The old mes­sag­ing about abor­tion and uni­sex bath­rooms looked less com­pelling as the pan­dem­ic death toll mount­ed and mil­lions were thrown out of work.

The CNP went into cri­sis mode, focus­ing on the mechan­ics of the elec­tion. Char­lie Kirk, head of the right-wing stu­dent group Turn­ing Point USA and a rel­a­tive­ly new mem­ber, took the stage to cel­e­brate the clo­sure of cam­pus­es, which could deprive the Democ­rats of a half-mil­lion stu­dent votes. “So, please keep the cam­pus­es closed,” he said. Exec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­ber Tom Fit­ton, pres­i­dent of Judi­cial Watch, asked his audi­ence for ideas to foil mail-in vot­ing: “We need to stop those bal­lots from going out, and I want the lawyers here to tell us what to do.”

The lawyers in the room were eager to help. One of them, the CNP board mem­ber Cle­ta Mitchell, was a part­ner in the influ­en­tial Mil­wau­kee-based law firm Foley and Lard­ner. She also served on the board of direc­tors of the ultra­con­ser­v­a­tive Lyn­de and Har­ry Bradley Foun­da­tion, run by fel­low CNP board mem­ber Richard Graber. In 2020, the Bradley Foun­da­tion grant­ed hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars to ALEC, Free­dom­Works, and the CNP itself.

Cle­ta Mitchell had worked close­ly with anoth­er lead­ing CNP mem­ber on elec­tion mat­ters in recent years. This was Gin­ni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Jus­tice Clarence Thomas and a mem­ber of the board of direc­tors of CNP Action. Gin­ni Thomas was known as the not-so-secret weapon of the CNP and its allies. A long­time sup­port­er of Char­lie Kirk and Turn­ing Point USA, she had spo­ken at the organization’s stu­dent con­fer­ence and served on its advi­so­ry coun­cil. She was list­ed as a con­trib­u­tor at the Dai­ly Caller, the online media plat­form found­ed and fund­ed by fel­low CNP mem­bers. At the May 2019 CNP meet­ing, Thomas and Mitchell offered a joint pre­sen­ta­tion on elec­toral strate­gies, and at the Feb­ru­ary 2020 meet­ing, Her­itage Foun­da­tion alum­na Rachel Bovard praised Thomas as a key liai­son to the White House. “She is one of the most pow­er­ful and fierce women in Wash­ing­ton,” Bovard said. (Bovard joined Thomas on the board of CNP Action short­ly after­ward.)

A few weeks lat­er, the CNP received some impor­tant news. On Sep­tem­ber 18, Jus­tice Gins­burg had died, at the age of 87, after a long bat­tle with pan­cre­at­ic can­cer. CNP affil­i­ates swung into action, repeat­ing the process that had won them two pre­vi­ous con­ser­v­a­tive jus­tices under the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. Kel­ly Shack­elford, CNP vice pres­i­dent and chair­man of CNP Action, had described his oper­a­tion at the meet­ing the pre­vi­ous Feb­ru­ary, as report­ed by The Wash­ing­ton Post: “He bragged about exten­sive behind-the-scenes coor­di­na­tion by his group and oth­er non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tions to influ­ence the White House selec­tion of fed­er­al judges. ‘Some of us lit­er­al­ly opened a whole oper­a­tion on judi­cial nom­i­na­tions and vet­ting,’ he said. ‘We poured mil­lions of dol­lars into this to make sure the pres­i­dent has good infor­ma­tion, he picks the right judges.’”

Shackelford’s forces pro­mot­ed the nom­i­na­tion of Amy Coney Bar­rett, anoth­er Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety alum, to fill Ginsburg’s seat. Bar­rett was a long­time CNP favorite. Inves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ist Robert Maguire learned that, as of July 2018, the domain name “confirmbarrett.com” had already been reserved by the Judi­cial Cri­sis Net­work, found­ed and chaired by CNP board of gov­er­nors mem­ber Gary Marx and close­ly aligned with the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety. The Judi­cial Cri­sis Net­work went on to spend at least $9.4 mil­lion in tele­vi­sion spots and $4.3 mil­lion in dig­i­tal ads, direct mail, and text mes­sag­ing to pro­mote Barrett’s nom­i­na­tion, accord­ing to a report by Michael Bieseck­er and Bri­an Slodysko of the Asso­ci­at­ed Press.

Sep­tem­ber 26 was anoth­er red-let­ter day for the CNP. Pres­i­dent Trump host­ed a Rose Gar­den cer­e­mo­ny to announce Barrett’s nom­i­na­tion, and the CNP treat­ed the event as a vic­to­ry lap. Once con­firmed, Bar­rett would serve as the ful­crum for the most con­ser­v­a­tive Supreme Court in near­ly a cen­tu­ry, the ful­fill­ment of decades of hard work by CNP strate­gists. At least 15 mem­bers of the CNP were list­ed among the atten­dees at the Rose Gar­den event—equal to the com­bined num­ber of White House offi­cials and mem­bers of Con­gress present. Among the crowd were old CNP warhors­es Tony Perkins, Ralph Reed, and Mar­jorie Dan­nen­felser, as well as new­ly promi­nent elec­tion wran­glers Jen­ny Beth Mar­tin, Cle­ta Mitchell, and Tom Fit­ton. Exact­ly one month lat­er, on Octo­ber 26—one week before the election—Amy Coney Bar­rett would be con­firmed as the Supreme Court’s new asso­ciate jus­tice, after her nom­i­na­tion sailed through the Repub­li­can-con­trolled Sen­ate.

But the Rose Gar­den event may have also con­sti­tut­ed the CNP’s last hur­rah for the Trump era. Defy­ing urgent pub­lic health advi­sories, more than 150 guests sat in tight rows, most­ly mask­less, engag­ing in spir­it­ed con­ver­sa­tion. Two weeks lat­er, Dr. Antho­ny Fau­ci decried it as a “super­spread­er event,” as at least sev­en atten­dees test­ed pos­i­tive for Covid-19—including Don­ald and Mela­nia Trump.

On Elec­tion Day, Novem­ber 3, the nation held its breath. Ralph Reed’s mas­sive get-out-the-vote effort had dri­ven up turnout, but so had the Democ­rats. On Novem­ber 4, as the results hung in abeyance, a site called StoptheSteal.us was reg­is­tered. It was dis­cov­ered the fol­low­ing day by Brent All­press, who traced its reg­is­tra­tion to an account called “Vice and Vic­to­ry,” owned by a curi­ous fig­ure named Ali Alexan­der. Alexan­der was some­times known as “Ali Akbar,” the name he was list­ed under as a mem­ber of the CNP on 2017 and 2018 ros­ters. He began to use the name “Alexan­der” after plead­ing guilty to two counts of felony in 2007 and 2008. As “Ali Alexan­der,” he announced the launch of #StoptheSteal on Twit­ter with a list of 15 part­ners and the text, “Proud to be work­ing with these patri­ots to Save the Elec­tion.” One of them was CNP mem­ber Ed Mar­tin, head of the Phyl­lis Schlafly Eagles Forum Fund.

A new Stop the Steal Face­book group had appeared on Novem­ber 4 and was banned the fol­low­ing day. The Wash­ing­ton Post quot­ed the page’s recruit­ment of “boots on the ground to pro­tect the integri­ty of the vote” and solic­i­ta­tion of dona­tions to cov­er “‘flights and hotels to send peo­ple’ to bat­tle­ground states includ­ing Geor­gia, North Car­oli­na and Penn­syl­va­nia.” Accord­ing to the Post, the “Stop the Steal” group appeared as a co-host on 12 dif­fer­ent Face­book protest list­ings, among them one for a car car­a­van from Cal­i­for­nia. The group gained 360,000 mem­bers before it was removed for vio­lat­ing Facebook’s rules for inflam­ma­to­ry con­tent, as users called for “civ­il war” and “over­throw­ing the gov­ern­ment.”

Accord­ing to All­press, the StoptheSteal.us site pro­vid­ed orga­ni­za­tion­al infor­ma­tion for protests on Novem­ber 6 at count­ing cen­ters and capi­tols across six “con­test­ed” swing states. CNP mem­ber Char­lie Kirk was list­ed as the pri­ma­ry orga­ni­za­tion­al con­tact for Neva­da protests, along with alt-right activist Mike Cer­novich. The Cen­ter for Media and Democ­ra­cy report­ed the state-lev­el involve­ment of oth­er CNP mem­bers and added that Free­dom­Works, run by CNP Action board of gov­er­nors mem­ber Adam Bran­don, was orga­niz­ing “Pro­tect the Vote” protests in five states.

On Novem­ber 6, as Biden pulled ahead, Jen­ny Beth Mar­tin announced that Tea Par­ty Patri­ot Action was going to hold “Pro­tect the Vote” ral­lies in four swing states, “work­ing with Free­dom­Works, Turn­ing Points [sic], Heritage”—all run by mem­bers of the CNP—“and count­less social media influ­encers to help orga­nize and assem­ble cit­i­zens in var­i­ous loca­tions around the coun­try to voice our sup­port for trans­par­ent and hon­est bal­lot count­ing.”

The elec­tion was called for Joe Biden on Novem­ber 7, based on late-count­ed bal­lots in Neva­da, Penn­syl­va­nia, and Geor­gia. Attor­ney Cle­ta Mitchell made her feel­ings known on Fox News, stat­ing, “We’re already dou­ble-check­ing and find­ing dead peo­ple hav­ing vot­ed,” and tweet­ed that the Geor­gia recount was “A FAKE!!!”

The CNP refused to sur­ren­der and con­vened a spe­cial meet­ing Novem­ber 12 to 14. Mitchell appeared at the meet­ing on an updat­ed pan­el, now called “Elec­tion Results and Legal Bat­tles: What Now?” And CNP Action answered the ques­tion with a new set of “Action Steps.”

These direct­ed mem­bers to lob­by leg­is­la­tors in Penn­syl­va­nia, Geor­gia, and Neva­da to sup­port lit­i­ga­tion chal­leng­ing the elec­tion out­come; to “active­ly edu­cate your pas­tor and church” with resources from Char­lie Kirk, the Fam­i­ly Research Coun­cil, and oth­ers; to “reach out” to 10 CNP affil­i­ates engaged in the Geor­gia runoff elec­tion; and (omi­nous­ly) to “con­nect with local law enforce­ment.”

Oth­er mea­sures were being set in motion. A famil­iar fig­ure resur­faced: Trump’s first nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er, Lt. Gen. Michael Fly­nn. Fly­nn, too, had a his­to­ry with the CNP. In July 2016, Fly­nn appeared on a CNP pan­el on “Ter­ror­ism and the Con­di­tion of the Mil­i­tary.” Aca­d­e­m­ic researcher All­press found Fly­nn list­ed in a Zoom­in­fo data­base of “email address­es and direct dials for the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy employ­ees” with a CNP phone num­ber (first list­ed on Novem­ber 26 and still active as of Feb­ru­ary 11—throughout the peri­od when he was appear­ing at the Stop the Steal protests, includ­ing in the Jan­u­ary 6, 2021, Wild­Protest ral­ly).

Dis­pelling any pos­si­bil­i­ty of the entry rep­re­sent­ing anoth­er “Mike Fly­nn,” the list­ing was linked to his 2016 CNP pan­el appear­ance.

Gin­ni Thomas is list­ed in the same CNP employ­ee data­base, also as hav­ing an undis­closed staff role.

Flynn’s affil­i­a­tions under­score a dis­turb­ing link between Trump’s team and the far-right con­spir­a­cy move­ment QAnon. On July 7, 2020, the CNN report­ed that Fly­nn had tweet­ed a video of him­self tak­ing an oath with a QAnon slo­gan, accom­pa­nied by a QAnon hash­tag.

In the weeks fol­low­ing the elec­tion, Fly­nn appeared on a Decem­ber 4 Red State Talk Radio pro­gram called “In the Matrixxx: Gen­er­al Fly­nn Dig­i­tal Sol­diers.” This was a term Fly­nn had intro­duced in a May 2016 speech, as a force to com­bat the “insur­gency” cre­at­ed by the pro­fes­sion­al news media: “So the Amer­i­can peo­ple decid­ed to take over the idea of infor­ma­tion . . . and they did it through social media.” In his intro­duc­tion, Matrixxx host Jef­frey Ped­er­son urged, “Patri­ots, join us in a Q army. Are you guys ready for some booms?” In a tele­phone inter­view, he con­grat­u­lat­ed Michael Fly­nn on his Novem­ber 25 pres­i­den­tial par­don for lying to the FBI in the Rus­sia inves­ti­ga­tion. “We are your dig­i­tal sol­diers, sir.”

Fly­nn replied, “The dig­i­tal army that we have is unstop­pable. . . . When I see peo­ple that don’t want to fight on the bat­tle­field, the Twit­ter space, the Face­book space, we don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly choose the ter­rain that we want to fight on, but when we get on that ter­rain, and we’re on it . . . we fight like dig­i­tal sol­diers, and we will over­come every­thing.”

When host Jef­frey Ped­er­son com­plained that his pro­gram had been tak­en down from a num­ber of major dig­i­tal plat­forms, Fly­nn answered, “Dig­i­tal Sol­diers is gonna have a capa­bil­i­ty soon. . . . We need a new plat­form of truth, it’s gonna hap­pen.”

Con­cern­ing “this dis­as­trous elec­tion we’ve just had,” Fly­nn adhered to the CNP par­ty line con­cen­trat­ing on state-lev­el action. “We are going to win. We have to be patient, we have to per­se­vere through this, we have to be com­mit­ted to fight for the truth in these var­i­ous swing states where the hear­ings have been occur­ring. . . . For the peo­ple that are in those states, those affect­ed states, you need to be call­ing your rep­re­sen­ta­tives, you need to be going to these ral­lies that they’re hav­ing at the state cap­i­tals, and you need to be putting demands on your state offi­cials, your state polit­i­cal class, to not accept this gross . . . this abuse of our elec­tion sys­tem.”

On Decem­ber 10, the CNP’s Con­ser­v­a­tive Action Project pub­lished a let­ter stat­ing, “There is no doubt Pres­i­dent Don­ald J. Trump is the law­ful win­ner of the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.” It stat­ed that “state leg­is­la­tures in the bat­tle­ground states of Penn­syl­va­nia, Ari­zona, Geor­gia, Wis­con­sin, Neva­da and Michi­gan should exer­cise their ple­nary pow­er under the Con­sti­tu­tion and appoint clean slates of elec­tors to the Elec­toral Col­lege to sup­port Pres­i­dent Trump.” It fur­ther called on con­ser­v­a­tive lead­ers and groups to imple­ment the strat­e­gy dis­cussed at the pre­vi­ous CNP meet­ing and pres­sure their state and nation­al rep­re­sen­ta­tives to replace the elec­tors. The let­ter was signed by over a dozen mem­bers of the CNP, includ­ing the pres­i­dent, the exec­u­tive direc­tor, and exec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­ber Jen­ny Beth Mar­tin.

Over the course of Novem­ber, Stop the Steal orga­niz­ers had sum­moned their sup­port­ers to join a series of pro-Trump “Jeri­cho March­es” and prayer vig­ils around the coun­try. These includ­ed a “March for Trump” 20-city bus tour orga­nized by Women for Amer­i­ca First, one of Tea Par­ty activists Amy Kremer’s orga­ni­za­tions, cul­mi­nat­ing in a Decem­ber 12 ral­ly in Wash­ing­ton D.C. Michael Fly­nn was a head­lin­er for the event, and his speech was record­ed by the Right Side Broad­cast­ing Net­work and post­ed on YouTube. Stand­ing over a Women for Amer­i­ca First podi­um before the Supreme Court, Fly­nn pro­claimed, “We are not going to give up!” His words were met by chants of “Stop the Steal!” from the crowd—which includ­ed hun­dreds of Proud Boys and QAnon sup­port­ers in com­bat fatigues and para­mil­i­tary gear. Fly­nn closed his remarks with a bless­ing for the mil­i­tary, first respon­ders, and the police. “They’re fight­ing on the front lines of free­dom right now—for us.”

Legal efforts to over­turn the elec­tion results con­tin­ued, but counts and recounts of the bal­lots came up with the same results, and the chal­lenges were dis­missed by courts across the coun­try. Trump’s cir­cle of trust­ed advis­ers was shrink­ing, and the pres­i­dent con­sid­ered des­per­ate mea­sures.

On Fri­day, Decem­ber 18, an extra­or­di­nary meet­ing took place in the White House with four par­tic­i­pants who had not been record­ed on the offi­cial cal­en­dar, among them Michael Fly­nn and attor­ney Sid­ney Pow­ell, both of whom had ties to the CNP. Accord­ing to a Feb­ru­ary 6 account of that meet­ing in The New York Times, Sid­ney Pow­ell pro­posed that Trump appoint her spe­cial coun­sel to inves­ti­gate vot­er fraud, and Trump con­sid­ered nam­ing Fly­nn head of the FBI and chief of staff for the rest of his admin­is­tra­tion.

The pre­vi­ous day, Decem­ber 17, the right-wing site News­max had post­ed an inter­view with Fly­nn. “The pres­i­dent has to plan for every even­tu­al­i­ty because we can­not allow this elec­tion and the integri­ty of our elec­tion to go the way it is,” Fly­nn said. “This is just total­ly unsat­is­fac­to­ry. There’s no way in the world we’re going to be able to move for­ward as a nation with this. . . .He could imme­di­ate­ly on his order seize every sin­gle one of these machines around the coun­try on his order. He could also order, with­in the swing states, if he want­ed to, he could take mil­i­tary capa­bil­i­ties and he could place them in those states and basi­cal­ly rerun an elec­tion in each of those states. It’s not unprece­dent­ed.”

Now, in the White House meet­ing of Decem­ber 18, wit­ness­es report­ed that Pow­ell and Fly­nn urged Trump to con­sid­er the Nation­al Emer­gen­cies Act and “extra­or­di­nary mea­sures” to address the elec­toral out­come. Oth­ers in the meet­ing object­ed, and Army Sec­re­tary Ryan McCarthy and Army Chief of Staff Gen­er­al James McConville quick­ly issued a state­ment say­ing, “There is no role for the U.S. mil­i­tary in deter­min­ing the out­come of an Amer­i­can elec­tion.”

As the options dimin­ished, CNP mem­bers dou­bled down. On Jan­u­ary 2, Pres­i­dent Trump held a con­fer­ence call with Geor­gia Sec­re­tary of State Brad Raf­fensperg­er, in which he famous­ly ordered Raf­fensperg­er to “find” 11,780 votes—one more than Biden’s mar­gin of vic­to­ry. The CNP’s Cle­ta Mitchell, one of three lawyers on the call, was iden­ti­fied by White House Chief of Staff Mark Mead­ows as one of the “attor­neys that rep­re­sent the president—who is not the attor­ney of record but has been involved [in the efforts to chal­lenge the elec­toral results].” Mitchell rein­forced Trump’s false claims of fraud and pressed Raf­fensperg­er to hand over his inves­ti­ga­tions of the alle­ga­tions.

Once again, the effort back­fired. The Raf­fensperg­er call was leaked to the press, and the Geor­gia offi­cial was laud­ed as a cham­pi­on of democ­ra­cy for resist­ing Trump’s bul­ly­ing behav­ior. Mitchell resigned from her posi­tion at Foley and Lard­ner, based on the firm’s pol­i­cy that its attor­neys would not rep­re­sent “any par­ties seek­ing to con­test the results of the elec­tion.”

Trump’s paths to vic­to­ry were dimin­ish­ing by the day. The next junc­ture was Jan­u­ary 6, when Con­gress was sched­uled to cer­ti­fy the Elec­toral Col­lege vote. Stop the Steal had been mobi­liz­ing for weeks, with the sup­port of the president’s Twit­ter feed.

The CNP con­nec­tion sur­faced on a num­ber of fronts, as reflect­ed in a chronol­o­gy pub­lished by The Wash­ing­ton Post. On Decem­ber 20, the domain “Wild­Protest” was reg­is­tered. The Post’s Philip Bump wrote, “It appears to be the brain­child of Ali Alexan­der” (the one­time CNP mem­ber and for­mer Ali Akbar). On Jan­u­ary 2, Amy Kre­mer of Women for Amer­i­ca First tweet­ed, “We are excit­ed to announce the site of our Jan­u­ary 6 event will be the Ellipse in President’s Park, just steps from the White House!” Kre­mer appeared in the CNP’s 2014 ros­ter on the CNP board of gov­er­nors, list­ed as chair­man of the Tea Par­ty Express. Her daugh­ter Kylie Kre­mer took out the Nation­al Park Ser­vice per­mit for the “March for Trump,” dat­ed Jan­u­ary 5, 2021.

CNP affil­i­ates took action on a local lev­el. Two days before the protest, Char­lie Kirk tweet­ed that his orga­ni­za­tions were “send­ing 80-plus bus­es full of patri­ots to DC to fight for this pres­i­dent.” (Kirk was indulging in hyper­bole. Turn­ing Point USA spokesman Andrew Kol­vet lat­er con­firmed to Reuters that Kirk’s orga­ni­za­tion, Turn­ing Point Action, sent “sev­en bus­es car­ry­ing 350 stu­dents” to the ral­ly, but added that the group “con­demns polit­i­cal vio­lence.”) Anoth­er tweet from Turn­ing Point Action invit­ed pro­test­ers to “ride a bus & receive pri­or­i­ty entry” and “stay in a com­pli­men­ta­ry hotel.” Both tweets were delet­ed after Jan­u­ary 6. In Lynch­burg, Vir­ginia, more than 100 pro­test­ers board­ed bus­es orga­nized by Lib­er­ty Coun­sel Action, chaired by CNP board of gov­er­nors mem­ber Mat Staver.

CNP mem­ber Gin­ni (Mrs. Clarence) Thomas pro­mot­ed the protest on her Twit­ter feed on Jan­u­ary 6, tweet­ing, “Watch MAGA crowd today best with Right Side Broad­cast­ing (https://rsbnetwork.com/), and then C‑Span for what the Con­gress does start­ing at 1:00 pm today. LOVE MAGA peo­ple!!!!”

On anoth­er front, CNP mem­ber Scott Mag­ill, a retired mil­i­tary physi­cian who had joined the hydrox­y­chloro­quine cam­paign, sum­moned “fel­low War­riors and Friends” to the protest on behalf of his orga­ni­za­tion, Vet­er­ans in Defense of Lib­er­ty. Mag­ill had made a video pre­sen­ta­tion to a 2017 CNP meet­ing, which was accessed by Brent All­press, describ­ing VIDOL as a nation­al orga­ni­za­tion made up of “bat­tal­ions” and “com­pa­nies,” formed to “iden­ti­fy and oppose all who would destroy our free­dom, our Judeo-Chris­t­ian val­ues, our cul­ture, or our morals.” It was expand­ed, he said, to include a “cav­al­ry divi­sion of Vet­er­an motor­cy­cle rid­ers” that could func­tion as a “peace­ful rapid response team.”

Jen­ny Beth Mar­tin claimed a major role in the day’s events. On Decem­ber 30, she tweet­ed, “I will be speak­ing at the #StoptheSteal ral­ly on Jan­u­ary 6. We must demand Con­gress to chal­lenge the Elec­toral Col­lege votes and fight for Pres­i­dent Trump!” She indi­cat­ed that her pro­tégé, Dr. Simone Gold (the mouth­piece for Covid mis­in­for­ma­tion), would be speak­ing as well. Martin’s Tea Par­ty Patri­ots were list­ed as one of the 11 par­tic­i­pat­ing orga­ni­za­tions on the March to Save Amer­i­ca web­site (along with Turn­ing Point Action and Phyl­lis Schlafly Eagles). The site announced, “At 1:00 pm we will march on the US Capi­tol build­ing to protest the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of the Elec­toral Col­lege.” (The web­page includ­ed an auto­mat­ic SMS opt-in and a Covid-19 dis­claimer waiv­ing any claims against the orga­niz­ers for “ill­ness or injury.”)

On Tues­day, Jan­u­ary 5, Trump sup­port­ers gath­ered at Free­dom Plaza in Wash­ing­ton for a Stop the Steal “pre-ral­ly.” Ali Alexan­der led them in cries of “Vic­to­ry or Death!” Michael Fly­nn told them, “We stand at a cru­cible moment in Unit­ed States his­to­ry,” and local CBS affil­i­ate reporter Mike Vale­rio tweet­ed from the scene, “We’ve heard Gen­er­al Mike Fly­nn give a salute / shoutout to QAnon sol­diers.”

On Jan­u­ary 6, thou­sands of pro­test­ers con­verged on the Ellipse in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. Pres­i­dent Trump addressed his fol­low­ers in stri­dent tones, urg­ing them to “walk down to the Capi­tol,” “show strength,” and “demand that Con­gress do the right thing.” Then he depart­ed for the White House to watch the day’s events on tele­vi­sion.

The crowd moved toward the Capi­tol and invad­ed its halls, attack­ing Capi­tol police offi­cers and van­dal­iz­ing the premis­es. Simone Gold reprised her speech in the Rotun­da, con­demn­ing the Covid-19 vac­cine as “an exper­i­men­tal bio­log­i­cal agent decep­tive­ly named a vac­cine.” Some mem­bers of the mob clutched Bibles and car­ried signs read­ing “Jesus Saves.” Amer­i­cans were stunned by shock­ing images of men in para­mil­i­tary gear snaking up the Capi­tol steps, of the mob assault­ing a pros­trate police offi­cer, of extrem­ists bran­dish­ing zip-tie hand­cuffs in the Sen­ate cham­ber.

On the Sen­ate floor, Brent Bozell IV was record­ed enter­ing the cham­ber, speak­ing on a cell phone, then repo­si­tion­ing the C‑SPAN cam­era to point at the floor. Bozell is the son of Brent Bozell III, a 30-year vet­er­an of the CNP and a mem­ber of the exec­u­tive com­mit­tee.

In the after­math of the attack, Char­lie Kirk and oth­er sup­port­ers of the protest delet­ed their tweets, but many had already been archived. Simone Gold expressed “regret” for her actions, but on Jan­u­ary 18 she was arrest­ed by the FBI on charges of vio­lent entry and dis­or­der­ly con­duct. Gold’s spon­sor, Jen­ny Beth Martin—who was sched­uled to speak on Jan­u­ary 5 but did not—told Robert O’Harrow of The Wash­ing­ton Post that her group had pro­vid­ed no finan­cial sup­port for the ral­ly. “We were shocked, out­raged, and sad­dened at the turn of events Wednes­day after­noon,” she said.

On Jan­u­ary 6, Brent Bozell III gave an inter­view to Fox Busi­ness describ­ing the riot as “an explo­sion of pent-up out­rage from Mid­dle Amer­i­ca.” He said, “Look, they are furi­ous because they believe this elec­tion was stolen. . . .I agree with them.” He con­demned the breach­ing of the Capi­tol, blam­ing it on “one ele­ment that went for­ward in law­less­ness.” His son was charged with par­tic­i­pat­ing in the breach by the FBI 10 days lat­er.

...

The CNP’s affil­i­ates were by no means act­ing alone in attempt­ing to over­turn the results of the elec­tion, or in their sup­port for the Capi­tol protest on Jan­u­ary 6. The evi­dence shows var­i­ous net­works at work: civil­ian and mil­i­tary, inde­pen­dent and inter­sect­ing, feck­less and mur­der­ous.

What is irrefutable is that mem­bers of the CNP and their cir­cle exert­ed their influ­ence and manip­u­lat­ed their fol­low­ers to sup­port Trump’s lies about the stolen elec­tion and his effort to derail the elec­toral process. Many of these peo­ple emerged as key play­ers in the efforts to dis­rupt America’s 220-year-old tra­di­tion of the peace­ful trans­fer of pow­er and stoked the fury of insur­rec­tion­ists who des­e­crat­ed Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy on that fate­ful Jan­u­ary after­noon.

————

“How the CNP, a Repub­li­can Pow­er­house, Helped Spawn Trump­ism, Dis­rupt­ed the Trans­fer of Pow­er, and Stoked the Assault on the Capi­tol” by Anne Nel­son; The Wash­ing­ton Spec­ta­tor; 02/22/2021

The Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy was found­ed in 1981 by a group of tel­e­van­ge­lists, West­ern oli­garchs, and Repub­li­can strate­gists to cap­i­tal­ize on Ronald Reagan’s elec­toral vic­to­ry the pre­vi­ous year. From the begin­ning, its goals rep­re­sent­ed a con­ver­gence of the inter­ests of these three groups: a retreat from advances in civ­il and polit­i­cal rights for women and minori­ties, tax cuts for the wealthy, and raw polit­i­cal pow­er. Oper­at­ing from the shad­ows, its mem­bers, who would num­ber some 400, spent the next four decades court­ing, buy­ing, and bul­ly­ing fel­low Repub­li­cans, grad­u­al­ly achiev­ing what was in effect a lever­aged buy­out of the GOP. Favorite sons, such as Josh Haw­ley and Ted Cruz, were groomed, financed, and sup­port­ed. Apos­tates, such as John McCain and Jeff Flake, were pun­ished and exiled. The lead­ers of the CNP tend­ed to favor their con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­t­ian co-reli­gion­ists, but polit­i­cal expe­di­ence came first.”

Formed in 1981 by a group of tel­e­van­ge­lists, West­ern oli­garchs, and Repub­li­can strate­gists to cap­i­tal­ize on Ronald Reagan’s elec­toral vic­to­ry. It’s hard to come up with a more trou­bling ori­gin sto­ry for a con­tem­po­rary polit­i­cal group. Espe­cial­ly a group ded­i­cat­ed to oper­at­ing in the shad­ows and bare­ly known to the gen­er­al pub­lic. For four decades the CNP has been oper­at­ing as a kind of secret umbrel­la group for the Chris­t­ian hard right. And then the 2020 elec­tion came along and the mask drops entire­ly. Because as we just saw, it was the CNP that was play­ing a lead role in orga­niz­ing the legal efforts to over­turn the 2020 elec­tion results months before the first votes were cast. By Feb­ru­ary 2020, with the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic get­ting under­way threat­en­ing Trump’s reelec­tion chances, the CNP began plan­ning to the over­turn the elec­tion for Trump no mat­ter the out­come of the vote. As we’ve seen, Cle­ta Mitchell — a mem­ber of the CNP board of gov­er­nors and long-stand­ing go-to con­ser­v­a­tive for jus­ti­fy­ing the worst kind of ger­ry­man­der­ing and vot­er sup­pres­sion tac­tics — became the point-per­son for orga­niz­ing the legal strate­gies for over­turn­ing elec­tion results at the state-lev­el. Recall how Mitchell was sit­ting in on the now noto­ri­ous Jan 2, 2021 phone call Trump made to Geor­gia Sec­re­tary of State Brad Raf­fens­burg­er demand­ing that they “find” the votes he need­ed to win the state, result­ing in Mitchel­l’s law firm effec­tive­ly kick­ing her out of the firm. Mitchel­l’s involve­ment in over­turn­ing the 2020 elec­tion arguably goes back to August of 2019, when she co-chaired a high-lev­el work­ing group that end­ed up advo­cat­ing for rad­i­cal read­ing of the con­sti­tu­tion that would enable state leg­is­la­tures to over­ride the pop­u­lar vote. Mitchell has been work­ing on over­turn­ing the 2020 elec­tion from its incep­tion right up to the insur­rec­tion. And she’s just one of the promi­nent CNP offi­cials who was heav­i­ly invest­ed in over­turn­ing the elec­tion through any means nec­es­sary:

...
Ulti­mate real­iza­tion of the CNP’s agen­da depend­ed on win­ning a sec­ond term for Trump in Novem­ber. With anoth­er four years, it could enshrine its social­ly regres­sive poli­cies on the fed­er­al lev­el, fur­ther blur the line between church and state, and con­sol­i­date huge wind­falls for cor­po­ra­tions and wealthy indi­vid­u­als. As of Jan­u­ary 1, elec­toral prospects looked sweet. The Repub­li­cans’ strongest suit was the econ­o­my. Mas­sive tax cuts had flood­ed cor­po­ra­tions with cash, which, as crit­ics of the tax bill had pre­dict­ed, they used to buy back their stock and dri­ve up share prices 28 per­cent in 2019. This boost­ed Trump’s pop­u­lar­i­ty among the 55 per­cent of Amer­i­cans who report­ed own­ing stocks, but did lit­tle to spur the growth Repub­li­cans had promised would off­set the soar­ing deficits.

...

But by Feb­ru­ary 2020, the CNP, fear­ing the ero­sion of Trump’s sup­port, shift­ed its strat­e­gy from boost­ing the pop­u­lar vote to deflect­ing it. Lisa Nel­son, the CEO of the Amer­i­can Leg­isla­tive Exchange Coun­cil, told the group, “We’ve been focused on the nation­al vote, and obvi­ous­ly we all want Pres­i­dent Trump to win, and win the nation­al vote, but it’s very clear from all the com­ments and all the sug­ges­tions up front that, real­ly, what it comes down to is the states, and the state leg­is­la­tors.” Her orga­ni­za­tion, she told them, had already draft­ed a mod­el res­o­lu­tion “to make sure there’s no con­fu­sion among con­ser­v­a­tive leg­is­la­tors around nation­al pop­u­lar vote and the Elec­toral Col­lege.”

Nel­son not­ed that her group was explor­ing addi­tion­al ways to inval­i­date a poten­tial Trump loss in con­sul­ta­tion with three elec­tion experts, includ­ing CNP board of gov­er­nors mem­ber Cle­ta Mitchell, “who I know you all know, on try­ing to iden­ti­fy what are those action items that leg­is­la­tors can take in their states, and I think that they’ve iden­ti­fied a few. They can write a let­ter to the sec­re­tary of state, ques­tion­ing the valid­i­ty of an elec­tion, and say­ing, ‘What did hap­pen that night?’ So we are draft­ing a lot of those things. If you have ideas in that area, let us know, and we’ll get them to the state leg­is­la­tors, and they can start to kind of exer­cise their polit­i­cal mus­cle in that area.”

So as ear­ly as Feb­ru­ary 2020, the CNP and its advis­ers were already antic­i­pat­ing var­i­ous strate­gies to over­turn the results of the elec­tion in the event of the loss of either the pop­u­lar vote or the Elec­toral Col­lege, or both. At the same time, they adopt­ed a three-pronged approach to enhanc­ing Trump’s chances in Novem­ber. The first involved expand­ing their use of data to juice Repub­li­can votes and sup­press Demo­c­ra­t­ic turnout. The sec­ond was to mobi­lize sup­port­ers in swing states to ignite Tea Party–like protests against the virus-relat­ed pub­lic safe­ty lock­downs. The third was to deploy physi­cians with dubi­ous cre­den­tials to dis­miss the dan­gers of Covid-19 through a mas­sive media blitz. All three ini­tia­tives were acti­vat­ed in April. It was a rehash of a famil­iar for­mu­la, con­coct­ing groups whose names and URLs changed with dizzy­ing speed and call­ing them “grass­roots” orga­ni­za­tions. (Crit­ics pre­ferred the term “astro­turf.”)
...

Note that one the key fig­ures who was already antic­i­pat­ing the need to over­turn the elec­tion results at that Feb 2020 CNP event was Lisa Nel­son, CNP mem­ber and CEO of ALEC, and she informed the group she was already work­ing with GOP attor­neys includ­ing Cle­ta Mitchell. It’s the per­fect exam­ple of how the plan­ning to over­turn the elec­tion results was a joint Koch/CNP oper­a­tion from the start.

Then there’s the “100 busi­ness exec­u­tives” that the White House staff pre­sent­ed to Trump back in April 2020, just months into the pan­dem­ic, who could give advice on how to jump-start the econ­o­my. It turns out this was a CNP-led effort too, with CNP co-founder Richard Viguerie talk­ing to reporters about it. The effort was expect­ed to be led by Stephen Moore, Jen­ny Beth Mar­tin, Adam Bran­don, and Lisa Nel­son, the CEO of ALEC. All CNP mem­bers. At the same time, the newest pres­i­dent of the CNP, William Wal­ton, isn’t a high pro­file reli­gious leader like Tony Perkins. Instead, Wal­ton works pri­vate equi­ty with close ties to the Kochs (now just Charles) and a lim­it­ed reli­gious pro­file. The CNP has been a merg­er of the Chris­t­ian right with the busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty from the very begin­ning. But 2020 was the year those ties real­ly shined in the shad­ows:

...
The CNP’s sec­ond strat­a­gem to “reopen the econ­o­my” debuted around the same time. On April 13, The Wash­ing­ton Post’s Jeff Stein and Robert Cos­ta report­ed that White House staff had pre­sent­ed Trump with a list of “100 busi­ness exec­u­tives” who could advise him as to how to jump-start the econ­o­my. The piece quot­ed CNP co-founder Richard Viguerie, who began his career under the tute­lage of dis­graced radio evan­ge­list Bil­ly James Har­gis and went on to pio­neer the use of direct mail in polit­i­cal mar­ket­ing. “Obvi­ous­ly, the soon­er we get the econ­o­my going and back up, the bet­ter it’s going to be for con­ser­v­a­tives and Repub­li­cans,” Viguerie said. A lot of them, he added, “feel there might be an over­re­ac­tion to all of this [epi­dem­ic].”

Accord­ing to The Wash­ing­ton Post’s unnamed sources, “The out­side effort from con­ser­v­a­tive groups is expect­ed to be led by Stephen Moore, a con­ser­v­a­tive at the Her­itage Foun­da­tion who is close with White House eco­nom­ic offi­cials; Jen­ny Beth Mar­tin, co-founder of the Tea Par­ty Patri­ots; Adam Bran­don, pres­i­dent of Free­dom­Works, a con­ser­v­a­tive advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tion; and Lisa Nel­son, chief exec­u­tive of the Amer­i­can Leg­isla­tive Exchange Coun­cil (ALEC), the con­ser­v­a­tive pro-busi­ness pol­i­cy and lob­by­ing orga­ni­za­tion with ties to the Koch broth­ers.”

This ini­tia­tive marked a shift in the CNP pro­file. Going into the 2016 elec­tions, the pub­lic faces of the orga­ni­za­tion had been promi­nent fun­da­men­tal­ists. Tony Perkins, CNP pres­i­dent from 2016 to 2019, is also an ordained South­ern Bap­tist min­is­ter and long­time head of the fun­da­men­tal­ist lob­by­ing group Fam­i­ly Research Coun­cil, and he has host­ed Chris­t­ian nation­al­ists Robert Jef­fress and David Bar­ton on his radio broad­casts. Almost half of Trump’s orig­i­nal Evan­gel­i­cal Advi­so­ry Board—including Perkins—were mem­bers of the CNP, and they were in and out of the Oval Office on a reg­u­lar basis. But in 2019, Perkins was suc­ceed­ed as CNP pres­i­dent by William Wal­ton, the founder and chair­man of Rap­pa­han­nock Ven­tures, a pri­vate equi­ty firm, with long ties to the Koch Broth­ers and a lim­it­ed reli­gious pro­file. In 2015, Wal­ton chaired a pan­el at the CNP, stat­ing, “Most of my career has been spent in busi­ness and on Wall Street, and I was among the first to attend the Charles Koch sem­i­nars.” Oth­er fig­ures con­nect­ed to the Koch empire ascend­ed in the CNP hier­ar­chy. Jen­ny Beth Mar­tin, who co-found­ed the Tea Par­ty Patri­ots with Koch back­ing, rose to the office of sec­re­tary. Adam Bran­don, head of the Koch-found­ed “grass­roots” orga­ni­za­tion Free­dom­Works, took a spot on the board of direc­tors of CNP Action, the organization’s lob­by­ing arm.

David Koch died in August 2019, but his broth­er Charles car­ried on. A man with no par­tic­u­lar reli­gious pro­file, Koch embarked on a “charm offen­sive,” dis­tanc­ing him­self from Trump and his fun­da­men­tal­ist allies, pre­sent­ing him­self to the media as a “uni­fi­er” (and scrub­bing the CNP’s Free Enter­prise Award from his pro­file). But his fund­ing activ­i­ties told a dif­fer­ent sto­ry. The Cen­ter for Media and Democracy’s Alec Kotch has record­ed mil­lions of dol­lars in grants from Koch and affil­i­ates such as the Donors Trust to orga­ni­za­tions run by lead­ing mem­bers of the CNP. These include ALEC, as well as the State Pol­i­cy Net­work, the Lead­er­ship Insti­tute, the Her­itage Foun­da­tion, Judi­cial Watch, and Turn­ing Point USA. Some of these groups would play impor­tant roles in attempts to dis­rupt the elec­toral process in the months ahead.
...

Then there’s the role Mark Meck­ler, a CNP Gold Cir­cle mem­ber. He decid­ed to turn the Con­ven­tion of States orga­ni­za­tion into a “clear­ing­house where all these guys can find each oth­er” and praised “spon­ta­neous cit­i­zen groups self-orga­niz­ing on the Inter­net and protest­ing what they per­ceive to be gov­ern­ment over­reach.” In oth­er words, Meck­ler tem­porar­i­ly refo­cused COS towards whip­ping up pub­lic oppo­si­tion to the var­i­ous anti-COVID mea­sures, in par­tic­u­lar at the state lev­el, as part of the larg­er CNP anti-COVID-mea­sures oper­a­tion. The COS became a clear­ing­house of joint CNP/Koch efforts:

...
The “boil­ing point” mate­ri­al­ized over the next two weeks, as Moore fore­cast, with the assis­tance of anoth­er CNP-linked effort called Con­ven­tion of States, led by Mark Meck­ler, co-founder of the Tea Par­ty Patri­ots and CNP Gold Cir­cle mem­ber. He told the Post his group would func­tion as a “clear­ing­house where all these guys can find each oth­er” and praised “spon­ta­neous cit­i­zen groups self-orga­niz­ing on the Inter­net and protest­ing what they per­ceive to be gov­ern­ment over­reach.” Ear­li­er that week, The New York Times report­ed that the coalition’s mem­bers were mobi­liz­ing their net­works for state-lev­el ral­lies, fil­ing law­suits, and com­mis­sion­ing polls, all to counter the lock­downs. “Non­prof­it groups includ­ing Free­dom­Works and Tea Par­ty Patri­ots have used their social media accounts and text and email lists to spread the word about the protests across the coun­try.” The most pub­li­cized events occurred at the Michi­gan state­house on April 15 and May 1, when armed pro­test­ers invad­ed the state Capi­tol, but these were far from the only ones.
...

Note the fea­tured pan­elist who open the August 19, 2020, CNP meet­ing: Sid­ney Pow­ell. Fol­lowed by an after­noon pan­el fea­tur­ing Cle­ta Mitchell. It was a spir­i­tu­al bat­tle of good ver­sus evil and in the worlds of CNP pres­i­dent Wal­ton, “We have to do every­thing pos­si­ble to win.” And the CNP went into cri­sis mode, focus­ing on mechan­ics. They were get­ting ready for the big steal. This was August 19, 2020, two and a half months before Elec­tion Day:

...
Trump and the CNP dou­bled down. On August 19, the CNP opened its meet­ing at the Ritz-Carl­ton in Pen­ta­gon City with a pan­el fea­tur­ing attor­ney Sid­ney Pow­ell. Two days lat­er, Don­ald Trump addressed the CNP in his sin­gle major con­ven­tion-eve event. Over chants of “USA! USA!” Trump acknowl­edged key sup­port­ers by name, includ­ing CNP Pres­i­dent William Wal­ton, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Bob McEwen, and Sec­re­tary Jen­ny Beth Mar­tin. His ram­bling speech attacked famil­iar ene­mies and laud­ed famil­iar friends, includ­ing evan­gel­i­cals, extrac­tive indus­tries, and the gun lob­by. Pho­tos from the event showed sev­er­al hun­dred tight­ly packed, unmasked guests in the ball­room. That afternoon’s pro­gram fea­tured attor­ney Cle­ta Mitchell, an Okla­homa native and a long­time CNP board of gov­er­nors mem­ber, on pan­els called “Elec­tion Integri­ty: Secur­ing the Bal­lot Box” and “Elec­tion Integri­ty: Action Steps.” Exec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­ber Brent Bozell III told his fel­low mem­bers that the left plans to “steal this elec­tion.”

“And if they get away with that, what hap­pens?” Bozell demand­ed. “Democ­ra­cy is fin­ished because they ush­er in total­i­tar­i­an­ism.”

...

The rest of the August CNP meet­ing was held under the usu­al con­di­tions of secre­cy, but this time its pro­ceed­ings were leaked to Wash­ing­ton Post reporter Robert O’Harrow Jr., who pub­lished an account on Octo­ber 14. The CNP lead­ers were sound­ing notes of alarm. “This is a spir­i­tu­al bat­tle. This is good ver­sus evil,” CNP pres­i­dent Wal­ton told the group. “We have to do every­thing pos­si­ble to win.” Trump’s dis­as­trous han­dling of the Covid-19 cri­sis was hurt­ing his chances at the polls, and Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers were new­ly ener­gized. The old mes­sag­ing about abor­tion and uni­sex bath­rooms looked less com­pelling as the pan­dem­ic death toll mount­ed and mil­lions were thrown out of work.

The CNP went into cri­sis mode, focus­ing on the mechan­ics of the elec­tion. Char­lie Kirk, head of the right-wing stu­dent group Turn­ing Point USA and a rel­a­tive­ly new mem­ber, took the stage to cel­e­brate the clo­sure of cam­pus­es, which could deprive the Democ­rats of a half-mil­lion stu­dent votes. “So, please keep the cam­pus­es closed,” he said. Exec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­ber Tom Fit­ton, pres­i­dent of Judi­cial Watch, asked his audi­ence for ideas to foil mail-in vot­ing: “We need to stop those bal­lots from going out, and I want the lawyers here to tell us what to do.”
...

Also note that with Gin­ni Thomas, was of Supreme Court Jus­tice Clarence Thomas, on the board of direc­tors of CNP Action, the rep­re­sents just one more area of clout the CNP would have if the elec­tion out­come was thrown to the Supreme Court. Recall how throw­ing it to the Supreme Court was one of the Trump team’s strate­gies for over­turn­ing the elec­tion. Not that we would­n’t already expect Clarence Thomas to vote in line with the CNP’s wish­es, but it’s an exam­ple of just how deep the CNP’s influ­ence runs in DC:

...
The lawyers in the room were eager to help. One of them, the CNP board mem­ber Cle­ta Mitchell, was a part­ner in the influ­en­tial Mil­wau­kee-based law firm Foley and Lard­ner. She also served on the board of direc­tors of the ultra­con­ser­v­a­tive Lyn­de and Har­ry Bradley Foun­da­tion, run by fel­low CNP board mem­ber Richard Graber. In 2020, the Bradley Foun­da­tion grant­ed hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars to ALEC, Free­dom­Works, and the CNP itself.

Cle­ta Mitchell had worked close­ly with anoth­er lead­ing CNP mem­ber on elec­tion mat­ters in recent years. This was Gin­ni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Jus­tice Clarence Thomas and a mem­ber of the board of direc­tors of CNP Action. Gin­ni Thomas was known as the not-so-secret weapon of the CNP and its allies. A long­time sup­port­er of Char­lie Kirk and Turn­ing Point USA, she had spo­ken at the organization’s stu­dent con­fer­ence and served on its advi­so­ry coun­cil. She was list­ed as a con­trib­u­tor at the Dai­ly Caller, the online media plat­form found­ed and fund­ed by fel­low CNP mem­bers. At the May 2019 CNP meet­ing, Thomas and Mitchell offered a joint pre­sen­ta­tion on elec­toral strate­gies, and at the Feb­ru­ary 2020 meet­ing, Her­itage Foun­da­tion alum­na Rachel Bovard praised Thomas as a key liai­son to the White House. “She is one of the most pow­er­ful and fierce women in Wash­ing­ton,” Bovard said. (Bovard joined Thomas on the board of CNP Action short­ly after­ward.)
...

But of all the CNP mem­bers we know of, per­haps the most sur­pris­ing is Ali Alexan­der, the Roger Stone acolyte who was lead­ing the StoptheSteal.us move­ment. Recall how Stone found­ed StopTheSteal in 2016 to help Trump win the GOP nom­i­na­tion. But Ali Alexan­der was its pub­lic face and leader dur­ing the post-2020 elec­tion peri­od in the lead up to the Jan­u­ary 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion. And as we saw, the Stop the Steal ral­ly out­side the Capi­tol was seen as the more “wild” ral­ly planned for Jan 6 — as opposed to the Women for Amer­i­ca First ral­ly at the Ellipse — and appears to have been the event from which the insur­rec­tion actu­al­ly emerged. Alexan­der was also mak­ing chants of “Vic­to­ry or Death” at the Jan 5 Stop the Steal ral­ly in DC. Ali Alexan­der poten­tial­ly played one of the most sig­nif­i­cant roles that day in terms of mak­ing the insur­rec­tion hap­pen. And now we learn Roger Stone’s acolyte is a CNP mem­ber. The fact that Michael Fly­nn spoke at Ali Alexan­der’s Jan 5 Stop the Steal isn’t par­tic­u­lar­ly sur­pris­ing either. The two had a sim­i­lar ‘wild’ insur­rec­tionary vibe:

...
On Elec­tion Day, Novem­ber 3, the nation held its breath. Ralph Reed’s mas­sive get-out-the-vote effort had dri­ven up turnout, but so had the Democ­rats. On Novem­ber 4, as the results hung in abeyance, a site called StoptheSteal.us was reg­is­tered. It was dis­cov­ered the fol­low­ing day by Brent All­press, who traced its reg­is­tra­tion to an account called “Vice and Vic­to­ry,” owned by a curi­ous fig­ure named Ali Alexan­der. Alexan­der was some­times known as “Ali Akbar,” the name he was list­ed under as a mem­ber of the CNP on 2017 and 2018 ros­ters. He began to use the name “Alexan­der” after plead­ing guilty to two counts of felony in 2007 and 2008. As “Ali Alexan­der,” he announced the launch of #StoptheSteal on Twit­ter with a list of 15 part­ners and the text, “Proud to be work­ing with these patri­ots to Save the Elec­tion.” One of them was CNP mem­ber Ed Mar­tin, head of the Phyl­lis Schlafly Eagles Forum Fund.

A new Stop the Steal Face­book group had appeared on Novem­ber 4 and was banned the fol­low­ing day. The Wash­ing­ton Post quot­ed the page’s recruit­ment of “boots on the ground to pro­tect the integri­ty of the vote” and solic­i­ta­tion of dona­tions to cov­er “‘flights and hotels to send peo­ple’ to bat­tle­ground states includ­ing Geor­gia, North Car­oli­na and Penn­syl­va­nia.” Accord­ing to the Post, the “Stop the Steal” group appeared as a co-host on 12 dif­fer­ent Face­book protest list­ings, among them one for a car car­a­van from Cal­i­for­nia. The group gained 360,000 mem­bers before it was removed for vio­lat­ing Facebook’s rules for inflam­ma­to­ry con­tent, as users called for “civ­il war” and “over­throw­ing the gov­ern­ment.”

...

On Tues­day, Jan­u­ary 5, Trump sup­port­ers gath­ered at Free­dom Plaza in Wash­ing­ton for a Stop the Steal “pre-ral­ly.” Ali Alexan­der led them in cries of “Vic­to­ry or Death!” Michael Fly­nn told them, “We stand at a cru­cible moment in Unit­ed States his­to­ry,” and local CBS affil­i­ate reporter Mike Vale­rio tweet­ed from the scene, “We’ve heard Gen­er­al Mike Fly­nn give a salute / shoutout to QAnon sol­diers.”
...

“Vic­to­ry or Death!” That was the on Jan 5 chant from Stop The Steal orga­niz­er Ali Alexan­der, who just hap­pens to be a CNP mem­ber too. It’s at a point where we have to start ask­ing which major orga­niz­ers of the push to over­turn the elec­tion results weren’t mem­bers of CNP. It points towards one of the grim real­i­ties of any attempt to inves­ti­gate and pun­ish those respon­si­ble for insur­rec­tion: tru­ly hold­ing those respon­si­ble to account would require the pros­e­cu­tion of a num­ber of mem­bers of one of the most pow­er­ful net­works oper­at­ing in the US today.

What’s Next for Project Blitz? A Bigger Project Blitz With an Expanded Sense of Dominion

Giv­en that the CNP is almost cer­tain­ly going to face no real reper­cus­sions for its role in an attempt­ed coup and will be allowed to con­tin­ue oper­at­ing in the shad­ows with impuni­ty the risk of future over­turned elec­tions and insur­rec­tions is one of the obvi­ous threats loom­ing over the US right now. But as our look at Project Blitz makes clear, the assault on Amer­i­ca’s democ­ra­cy from the CNP and Chris­t­ian nation­al­ists isn’t lim­it­ed to lit­er­al assaults like the insur­rec­tion. The impact of ‘bill mills’ like Project Blitz is a sus­tained leg­isla­tive assault that real­ly does erode con­sti­tu­tion­al safe­guards over time. One state at a time.

And as the fol­low­ing 2021 update on Project Blitz describes, the peo­ple behind Project Blitz have a grow­ing vision for what the project can accom­plish. In addi­tion to pro­duc­ing bills to pro­mote prayer in school, they had moved on to poten­tial more fer­tile issues: “Crit­i­cal Race The­o­ry” and anti-Trans youth bills. Beyond that, it appears Project Blitz has become more sophis­ti­cat­ed in cov­er­ing up its agen­da, issu­ing new guid­ance to state law­mak­ers on how to use more sec­u­lar-sound­ing lan­guage to describe their bills. Keep in mind that this update on Project Blitz was writ­ten in July of 2021, months before we wit­nessed the poten­cy of issues like “Crit­i­cal Race The­o­ry” in ani­mat­ing the elec­torate of Vir­ginia. So in terms of what to expect next from this Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist move­ment that’s cur­rent­ly on the war path to cap­ture democ­ra­cy, we should prob­a­bly expect more of the same, but worse because they’re get­ting bet­ter at it:

The Salon

The Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist assault on democ­ra­cy goes stealth — but the push­back is work­ing
Salon’s 2018 report­ing helped dri­ve the Chris­t­ian right’s Project Blitz under­ground. Now it’s back, on the down-low

By Paul Rosen­berg
Pub­lished July 24, 2021 12:14PM (EDT)

In April 2018, researcher Fred­er­ick Clark­son exposed the exis­tence of Project Blitz, a secre­tive Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist “bill mill” oper­at­ing below the radar to shape and enact leg­is­la­tion in dozens of states, using a net­work of state “prayer cau­cus­es,” many of which had unsus­pect­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic mem­bers. Its plan was to start with inno­cent-seem­ing bills, such as requir­ing pub­lic schools to dis­play the nation­al mot­to, “In God We Trust,” and to cul­mi­nate with lay­ing the foun­da­tions for a “Hand­maid­’s Tale”-style theoc­ra­cy, enshrin­ing big­otry in law under the guise of “reli­gious free­dom.”

Salon was the first to report and build on Clark­son’s find­ings, as well as sub­se­quent pro­gres­sive orga­niz­ing efforts which even­tu­al­ly drove Project Blitz back under­ground, fol­low­ing a high-pro­file USA Today exposé (Salon fol­low-up here.) Now, three years lat­er, Clark­son, a senior research ana­lyst at Polit­i­cal Research Asso­ciates, has unearthed the play­books Project Blitz has used since going dark, and dis­cussed their impli­ca­tions with Salon in an exclu­sive inter­view.

“The play­books advise leg­is­la­tors to cloak their reli­gious mis­sion in the guise of more sec­u­lar inten­tions and they’ve renamed sev­er­al bills to make them sound more appeal­ing,” Clark­son report­ed at Reli­gion Dis­patch­es. But there’s anoth­er, more hope­ful mes­sage: These play­books “also tell a sto­ry of the resilience of demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions and lead­ers in the face of move­ments seek­ing to under­mine or end them.”

Clark­son told Salon, “While most peo­ple to the left of the Chris­t­ian right view the Project Blitz play­book with revul­sion, I see it as a gift to democ­ra­cy. The play­book and their accom­pa­ny­ing brief­in­gs and events laid bare their inten­tions and their game plan.” Because of that, he con­tin­ued, “We were hand­ed a vital tool for the defense of demo­c­ra­t­ic val­ues and, arguably, the wider defense of democ­ra­cy itself. The things that hap­pened in response, I think, are under­ap­pre­ci­at­ed, even by some of those who should be tak­ing great pride in their vic­to­ries.”

In par­tic­u­lar, Clark­son said, “We were for­tu­nate that Rachel Laser, the then-new pres­i­dent of Amer­i­cans Unit­ed for Sep­a­ra­tion of Church and State, rec­og­nized this right away and made tak­ing on Project Blitz a sig­na­ture cam­paign of her pres­i­den­cy.” One high­light of Laser’s work was “orga­niz­ing dozens of nation­al reli­gious and civ­il rights orga­ni­za­tions to issue a joint let­ter to state leg­is­la­tors oppos­ing the anti-demo­c­ra­t­ic, Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist inten­tion” behind Project Blitz.

He also cit­ed the webi­na­rs staged for var­i­ous nation­al groups by Ali­son Gill of Amer­i­can Athe­ists, Eliz­a­beth Rein­er Platt of Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty Law School and Clark­son him­self, which “laid out the impli­ca­tions of the Project Blitz cam­paign,” Clark­son said. (My report­ing on that is here.) That in turn led to the for­ma­tion of Blitz Watch, which focused atten­tion on the con­tin­u­ing threat.

In Clark­son’s arti­cle for Reli­gion Dis­patch­es, he writes, “In 2020, depend­ing on how one counts, 92 bills were intro­duced, 8 of which passed. In 2021, so far, 74 bills have been intro­duced, 14 of which have passed, accord­ing to Blitz Watch.” So Project Blitz is still in action, and still a threat. But it’s not the mas­sive and suc­cess­ful onslaught that its founders intend­ed and hoped for — and the fact that it was forced into stealth mode shows how suc­cess­ful the push­back has been.

At the end of his sto­ry, Clark­son offers this sum­ma­ry:

The ongo­ing expo­sure and response to Project Blitz has taught us sev­er­al things. First, that it’s pos­si­ble to stand up to and pre­vail against anti-demo­c­ra­t­ic move­ments and mea­sures, and that our demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions are more resilient than they some­times seem. Sen. John Mar­ty showed that — when he spoke up for the integri­ty of his faith and stood down a nation­al smear cam­paign led by Fox News, as not­ed ear­li­er. Librar­i­ans and their allies showed that, even in the face of dem­a­gog­ic attacks on the com­pe­tence and integri­ty of pub­lic libraries, state leg­is­la­tors could be made to see rea­son. Efforts since 2018 by scores of nation­al orga­ni­za­tions orga­nized by Amer­i­cans Unit­ed for Sep­a­ra­tion of Church and State and Blitz Watch, have also shown that it’s pos­si­ble to defend democ­ra­cy and its insti­tu­tions against a secre­tive and for­mi­da­ble oppo­nent of demo­c­ra­t­ic val­ues, and of democ­ra­cy itself. What’s more, jour­nal­ism has once again shown that sun­light remains the best dis­in­fec­tant.

Elab­o­rat­ing on this last point, Clark­son told Salon, “Scores of nation­al media out­lets cov­ered either Project Blitz direct­ly, or cov­ered the pat­terns of bills intro­duced in leg­is­la­tures across the coun­try, espe­cial­ly the most com­mon, In God We Trust bills…. Thus Project Blitz was exposed as part of wider prob­lem of manip­u­la­tion of state leg­is­la­tures, and found itself com­pared to the tobac­co and the pornog­ra­phy indus­tries as cor­rup­tors of demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions.”

What’s equal­ly impor­tant is that these lessons can also pro­vide tools and strate­gies to counter the right’s lat­est cul­ture war offen­sive — the racist back­lash fly­ing under the ban­ner of fight­ing “crit­i­cal race the­o­ry.” Although the two cam­paigns are dis­sim­i­lar in some respects, in both cas­es the right is defend­ing a found­ing myth (Amer­i­ca as a “Chris­t­ian nation,” or Amer­i­ca as a flaw­less “bea­con of lib­er­ty”) and per­vert­ing or tak­ing hostage a pro­gres­sive val­ue to claim it as their own (reli­gious free­dom or racial equal­i­ty). In both cas­es, the reliance on bla­tant decep­tion tells us that con­ser­v­a­tives them­selves under­stand that pro­gres­sives hold the stronger hand. The right may be more mobi­lized now — just as it was before Project Blitz was first exposed — but it won’t win if pro­gres­sives can learn, and adapt, the lessons of their recent suc­cess.

How we got here

As Clark­son first report­ed, Project Blitz orig­i­nal­ly divid­ed its bills into three tiers. The first tier aimed at import­ing the Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist world­view into pub­lic schools and oth­er aspects of the pub­lic sphere. A sig­na­ture exam­ple is dis­play of the mot­to, “In God We Trust,” a Cold War replace­ment for “E pluribus unum” — out of many, one — which bet­ter reflects Amer­i­ca’s prag­mat­ic, plu­ral­ist foun­da­tions.

The sec­ond tier, “Res­o­lu­tions and Procla­ma­tions Rec­og­niz­ing the Impor­tance of Reli­gious His­to­ry and Free­dom,” aimed at mak­ing gov­ern­ment a part­ner in “Chris­tian­iz­ing” Amer­i­ca, large­ly by pro­mot­ing bogus his­tor­i­cal nar­ra­tives. For exam­ple, Clark­son told me, the mod­el “Civic Lit­er­a­cy Act and the Reli­gion in His­to­ry Acts,” required the study or post­ing of “the found­ing doc­u­ments” in the pub­lic schools, but with a twist:

“Curi­ous­ly, the Mayflower Com­pact is includ­ed as a found­ing doc­u­ment,” he said, “but there is no men­tion of the Vir­ginia Statute for Reli­gious Lib­er­ty [the law Thomas Jef­fer­son wrote which served as the mod­el for the First Amend­ment] ... because it throws a mon­key wrench into the Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist nar­ra­tive, which seeks to link Chris­tian­i­ty and nation­al iden­ti­ty from the British colonies at Jamestown and Ply­mouth to the present.”

The third tier con­tained three types of pro­posed laws that “pro­tect” reli­gious beliefs and prac­tices specif­i­cal­ly intend­ed to ben­e­fit big­otry. “Although cat­e­go­ry three is divid­ed in three parts, you could also see it as hav­ing two main under­ly­ing inten­tions,” Clark­son explained in a lat­er sto­ry. “First to den­i­grate the LGBTQ com­mu­ni­ty, and sec­ond to defend and advance the right to dis­crim­i­nate. This is one way that the agen­da of theo­crat­ic domin­ion­ism is reframed as pro­tect­ing the right of theocrats to dis­crim­i­nate against those deemed sec­ond-class, at best. As the late theo­crat­ic the­olo­gian R.J. Rush­doony said, ‘Only the right have rights.’ ”

The basic struc­ture of Project Blitz’s agen­da has­n’t changed much, but its pre­sen­ta­tion has. “The 2020–2021 play­book offers slick­er argu­ments than pre­vi­ous years,” Clark­son notes. “For exam­ple, they deny that they seek a theoc­ra­cy, try not to be overt­ly Chris­t­ian, present sec­u­lar argu­ments for their leg­is­la­tion and attempt to give the appear­ance that they respect reli­gious plu­ral­ism. But they don’t quite suc­ceed.”

The con­tra­dic­tions he notes are not sur­pris­ing. Authors of these pro­posed laws insist, for exam­ple, that they’re not out to “change our mod­el of gov­ern­ment into a theoc­ra­cy” and that the bills don’t “mim­ic or enact any par­tic­u­lar reli­gious code.” But the inclu­sion of “The Ten Com­mand­ments Dis­play Act” isn’t very con­vinc­ing on that score. They fur­ther insist that the mod­el bills pro­mote “reli­gious tol­er­ance” and “do not force any reli­gion on any­one,” yet the “Nation­al Mot­to Dis­play Act” calls for the post­ing of the Chris­t­ian reli­gious slo­gan “In God We Trust” in pub­lic schools and build­ings. Still they allege that “tol­er­ance [is] sore­ly lack­ing in those who reject var­i­ous aspects of reli­gious teach­ing,” an old talk­ing point that frames rejec­tion of imposed reli­gion in pub­lic spaces as “intol­er­ance.”

That last point is anoth­er exam­ple of how the right attempts to usurp pro­gres­sive val­ues and turn them on their heads. It also rep­re­sents an attempt to erase reli­gious lib­er­als, pro­gres­sives and rad­i­cals from the pub­lic sphere, by pre­tend­ing that only “sec­u­lar human­ists” can pos­si­bly oppose what they are doing.

The 2019–2020 play­book was more nar­row­ly focused, deal­ing only with bills relat­ed to sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion and gen­der iden­ti­ty. That made sense, since it was the rapid shift in pub­lic atti­tudes around LGBTQ rights that put the reli­gious right into its cur­rent defen­sive pos­ture, out of which it con­ceived its counter-offen­sive: recast­ing reli­gious big­otry as a defin­ing fea­ture of faith, and claim­ing a right to dis­crim­i­nate as an essen­tial aspect of “reli­gious free­dom.” The fact that the oth­er tiers were dropped from the 2019–2020 play­book is a tell of sorts — but of course the play­book’s authors nev­er expect­ed it to become pub­lic.

The 2020–2021 play­book returned to the full three-tier for­mat, under a new rubric of “cat­e­gories,” adding two addi­tion­al ones. “Cat­e­go­ry 4 offers ‘talk­ing points to counter anti-reli­gious free­dom leg­is­la­tion,’ which is sim­ply a break­out of the talk­ing points pre­vi­ous­ly includ­ed in oth­er sec­tions,” Clark­son notes, while “Cat­e­go­ry 5 pro­vides four new mod­el poli­cies deal­ing with prayer in pub­lic set­tings — three for pub­lic school set­tings and one for munic­i­pal set­tings, such as city coun­cil meet­ings.”

One impor­tant new ingre­di­ent

One new bill that Clark­son draws atten­tion to would crim­i­nal­ize libraries and librar­i­ans, and became infa­mous even before Project Blitz adopt­ed it:

The “Parental Over­sight of Pub­lic Libraries Act,” intro­duced by then-fresh­man Mis­souri State Rep. Ben Bak­er (R‑Neosho), ignit­ed a state and nation­al con­tro­ver­sy in Jan­u­ary 2020 short­ly after he took office. …

His bill sought to cre­ate “parental review boards” with the author­i­ty to “con­vene pub­lic hear­ings” and restrict access to any­thing they deemed “age-inap­pro­pri­ate sex­u­al mate­ri­als.” Not only would their deci­sions be “final,” but the bill also pre­scribed fines or jail for librar­i­ans who “will­ing­ly” vio­lat­ed board decrees regard­ing what is inap­pro­pri­ate, and includ­ed the poten­tial state defund­ing of libraries accused of vio­lat­ing the statute.

This bill is decep­tive in two key ways. First, as Clark­son notes, it “feigns a demo­c­ra­t­ic method to achieve an anti-demo­c­ra­t­ic result.” These board mem­bers would­n’t be cho­sen in a gen­er­al elec­tion, but by vot­ers who show up in per­son at a sched­uled pub­lic meet­ing where the issue is raised. “Thus the boards could be elect­ed by small groups of zealots able to pack an oth­er­wise rou­tine evening meet­ing of a town coun­cil,” Clark­son writes. These boards would then be giv­en pow­ers to over­rule exist­ing library boards, which are either demo­c­ra­t­i­cal­ly elect­ed or appoint­ed by demo­c­ra­t­i­cal­ly elect­ed offi­cials. In short, this is an attack on local demo­c­ra­t­ic con­trol, the very prin­ci­ple it pre­tends to embody.

The sec­ond decep­tion is over the term “age-inap­pro­pri­ate sex­u­al mate­ri­als,” since the impe­tus for the orig­i­nal bill was­n’t about sex­u­al con­tent at all, but rather gen­der rep­re­sen­ta­tion:

Bak­er said he was orig­i­nal­ly con­cerned about the pop­u­lar-but-some­times-con­tro­ver­sial Drag Queen Sto­ry Hour in libraries and book­stores around the coun­try.

Drag Queen Sto­ry Hour describes its events sim­ply as “drag queens read­ing sto­ries to chil­dren in libraries, schools, and book­stores … [where] kids are able to see peo­ple who defy rigid gen­der restric­tions and imag­ine a world where peo­ple can present as they wish, where dress up is real.”

Bak­er sees some­thing more sin­is­ter at work. Any break in rigid gen­der stereo­types is inher­ent­ly sub­ver­sive to his snowflake sen­si­bil­i­ties, as he explained to the New York Times: “What inspired this bill is becom­ing aware of what is tak­ing place at our pub­licly fund­ed libraries with events like Drag Queen Sto­ry Hour, and mate­ri­als that have a clear agen­da of groom­ing our chil­dren for the L.G.B.T.Q. com­mu­ni­ty with adult themes and con­tent that fit the descrip­tion of a objec­tion­able sex­u­al nature.”

In this world­view, any break­down in rigid gen­der stereo­types is asso­ci­at­ed with “groom­ing our chil­dren” for the LGBTQ com­mu­ni­ty,” a trope used by the right dat­ing back at least to the Eisen­how­er-era John Birch Soci­ety, when sci­en­tif­ic knowl­edge about gen­der ori­en­ta­tion and iden­ti­ty was vir­tu­al­ly nonex­is­tent. Not only does this lack any sci­en­tif­ic cred­i­bil­i­ty, it’s also a hys­ter­i­cal over­re­ac­tion, since no one is forced to attend Drag Queen Sto­ry Hour. If this law were passed, as an offi­cial with Amer­i­can Library Asso­ci­a­tion warned, not just Drag Queen Sto­ry Hour could be cen­sored, but also dis­plays relat­ing to Pride Month, Black His­to­ry Month and oth­er spe­cif­ic com­mem­o­ra­tions.

This attempt­ed intru­sion into local library pol­i­tics is just one exam­ple of how Project Blitz over­laps with the new wave of white back­lash under the ban­ner of fight­ing “crit­i­cal race the­o­ry.” For sev­er­al decades, the right has repeat­ed­ly mobi­lized to take over non­par­ti­san school boards, and occa­sion­al­ly library boards, as a way of build­ing grass­roots pow­er and groom­ing can­di­dates for high­er office. Such elec­tions usu­al­ly have low turnout and rel­a­tive­ly lit­tle cam­paign orga­ni­za­tion, which makes them attrac­tive tar­gets for extrem­ists run­ning scare-tac­tic cam­paigns. The parental over­sight bill takes things one step fur­ther by empow­er­ing small activist groups who invadie local gov­ern­ment meet­ings, but the orga­niz­ing prin­ci­ple is the same: Use fear and stealth to seize pow­er, and use sim­u­lat­ed demo­c­ra­t­ic legit­i­ma­cy to advance a divi­sive, reac­tionary agen­da.

These library-cen­tered bat­tles served to under­score a broad­er point that Clark­son made to Salon. “When peo­ple are invest­ed in demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions like pub­lic libraries, or any aspect of gov­ern­ment, it is impor­tant not to ‘oth­er-ize’ gov­ern­ment, which in a demo­c­ra­t­ic soci­ety is intend­ed to be an expres­sion and func­tion of what we need and want to do togeth­er, and is nec­es­sar­i­ly an expres­sion of demo­c­ra­t­ic val­ues,” Clark­son said.

“That librar­i­ans and allies around the coun­try ral­lied to the defense of the archives of demo­c­ra­t­ic knowl­edge, cul­ture and prac­tice is a case exam­ple of how we need not be bul­lied by Chris­t­ian right dem­a­goguery. Screechy charges may make head­lines and bring in ad rev­enue on right-wing talk radio, but most peo­ple, most of the time, do not want their schools and libraries messed with by author­i­tar­i­an big­ots and mobs of the eas­i­ly led.”

Reflect­ing on lessons learned

Expo­sure was the key to suc­cess, accord­ing to two impor­tant fig­ures in this strug­gle, both men­tioned above. Rachel Laser is pres­i­dent of Amer­i­cans Unit­ed For Sep­a­ra­tion of Church and State, and Ali­son Gill is vice pres­i­dent for legal and pol­i­cy mat­ters at Amer­i­can Athe­ists.

“To oppose Project Blitz effec­tive­ly, we first had to raise aware­ness about this cam­paign,” Gill said.

“Project Blitz’s strat­e­gy was to start with seem­ing­ly less con­tro­ver­sial leg­is­la­tion that orga­niz­ers thought they could slip past the pub­lic,” Laser said, “then build to even more harm­ful, more con­tro­ver­sial bills. They had some suc­cess ear­ly on. But once we exposed that strat­e­gy and peo­ple became aware of Project Blitz and its agen­da of cod­i­fy­ing Chris­t­ian nation­al­ism, the ini­tia­tive began to unrav­el, because peo­ple don’t want to force reli­gious beliefs on pub­lic school­child­ren and they don’t want our laws to license dis­crim­i­na­tion in the name of reli­gious free­dom.”

Gill focused more on expos­ing the secre­tive work­ings behind the Project Blitz oper­a­tion. “At first, the cam­paign worked dis­creet­ly and with­out broad­cast­ing their inten­tions to lure unsus­pect­ing law­mak­ers into state prayer cau­cus­es,” she said. “These cau­cus­es then pro­vid­ed a struc­ture with which to pur­sue the Project Blitz leg­is­la­tion. By ele­vat­ing the cam­paign to media and law­mak­ers, high­light­ing its con­nec­tion to Chris­t­ian nation­al­ism and show­ing that these bills were not organ­i­cal­ly dri­ven by in-state inter­est, we suc­ceed­ed in neu­tral­iz­ing their advan­tage.”

Gill cit­ed two oth­er lessons as well. “Our work to oppose Project Blitz rein­forced the impor­tance of cross-move­ment col­lab­o­ra­tion,” she said. “Project Blitz is a cam­paign that tar­gets civ­il rights in mul­ti­ple fields — LGBTQ equal­i­ty, access to repro­duc­tive ser­vices and reli­gious equal­i­ty — and so coor­di­na­tion with orga­ni­za­tions across affect­ed move­ments was required to effec­tive­ly oppose it.”

That took time and cru­cial infor­ma­tion, Laser added: “It was­n’t until we learned of the Project Blitz play­book and their orga­niz­ing strat­e­gy that we were able to build a coali­tion of allies to fight this move­ment at its source, rather than only state by state and bill by bill.”

...

More wor­ri­some than Project Blitz itself, Gill said, are the forces behind it. “The same forces push­ing for­ward Project Blitz have now seized upon new issues, and they are already flood­ing state leg­is­la­tures with dan­ger­ous mod­el bills,” she said. “There were at least four major waves of harm­ful leg­is­la­tion prop­a­gat­ed in 2021: anti-trans youth leg­is­la­tion, reli­gious exemp­tions to COVID-relat­ed pub­lic health pro­tec­tions, broad denial-of-care bills, and bills that under­mine abor­tion access.”

Of those, she says the most dan­ger­ous ele­ment is a “renewed empha­sis on Reli­gious Free­dom Restora­tion Act (RFRA) mea­sures at the state lev­el. RFRAs cre­ate a lim­it­ed exemp­tion from state laws when­ev­er reli­gious orga­ni­za­tions say that their activ­i­ties are bur­dened. RFRAs have been used to attack nondis­crim­i­na­tion pro­tec­tions, access to con­tra­cep­tion and abor­tion, and even child labor laws.

Such laws were a major focus of con­ser­v­a­tive activism dur­ing Barack Oba­ma’s pres­i­den­cy, although “none were suc­cess­ful­ly passed after sig­nif­i­cant pub­lic set­backs in 2015 in states like Indi­ana,” Gill not­ed. “In the wake of the pan­dem­ic and state-imposed pub­lic health restric­tions,” she said, “activists have rebrand­ed these bills as nec­es­sary to pro­tect church­es from gov­ern­ment over­reach.” Three states — Arkansas, Mon­tana and South Dako­ta — passed RFRAs this year, and we should expect to see many more com­ing in 2022, she warns.

It’s also impor­tant to con­sid­er how these lessons can be applied to the racist back­lash for­mu­lat­ed around the bogey­man term “crit­i­cal race the­o­ry,” which Fox News has repeat­ed thou­sands of times with­out ever clear­ly defin­ing it. This can be seen in the state leg­isla­tive map as well. repeat­ed thou­sands of times has tracked efforts in 27 states to “restrict edu­ca­tion on racism, bias, the con­tri­bu­tions of spe­cif­ic racial or eth­nic groups to U.S. his­to­ry, or relat­ed top­ics,” com­pared to efforts in 12 states to expand edu­ca­tion. Brook­ings reports that sev­en states have passed such laws, though only one explic­it­ly men­tions “crit­i­cal race the­o­ry.” Brook­ings lists actions tak­en by state boards of edu­ca­tion, oth­er state actors and local school boards as well. So the scope of right-wing activism is clear, as is the need for an effec­tive response.

For Laser, the par­al­lels are clear. “White Chris­t­ian nation­al­ism is the belief that Amer­i­ca is and must remain a Chris­t­ian nation found­ed for its white Chris­t­ian inhab­i­tants, and that our laws and poli­cies must reflect this premise,” she said. “They com­plete­ly reject church-state sep­a­ra­tion. White Chris­t­ian nation­al­ists oppose equal­i­ty for peo­ple of col­or, women, LGBTQ peo­ple, reli­gious minori­ties and the non­re­li­gious.

“The same white Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist ide­ol­o­gy that is behind Project Blitz is also dri­ving the back­lash against a delib­er­ate car­i­ca­ture of crit­i­cal race the­o­ry,” she con­tin­ued. “There­fore, a sim­i­lar strat­e­gy to the one that has ham­strung Project Blitz — recap­tur­ing the nar­ra­tive about our nation’s ideals, expos­ing the real intent of the extrem­ists, mak­ing clear how their agen­da harms free­dom and equal­i­ty for all of us, and bring­ing togeth­er a diverse coali­tion of peo­ple and groups to speak out against this harm­ful move­ment — should be part of the strat­e­gy to com­bat oppo­nents of racial jus­tice.”

Gill sees sim­i­lar­i­ties, but dif­fer­ences as well. “Both cam­paigns are sim­i­lar in that they focus on redefin­ing and manip­u­lat­ing lan­guage for polit­i­cal advan­tage — ‘reli­gious free­dom’ and ‘crit­i­cal race the­o­ry,’ respec­tive­ly,” she said. “How­ev­er, there are also sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences. The anti-CRT cam­paigns seem at once bet­ter fund­ed and less orga­nized than Project Blitz. More­over, there is a degree of moral pan­ic asso­ci­at­ed with the anti-CRT efforts that was not as present for Project Blitz.”

Still, she offered three spe­cif­ic lessons learned from the resis­tance to Project Blitz:

1. Raise aware­ness about the anti-CRT cam­paign and bring to light where it came from, who is fund­ing it and for what pur­pos­es.
2. Build col­lab­o­ra­tion between the var­i­ous sec­tors that sup­port diver­si­ty edu­ca­tion in schools to push back against anti-CRT efforts. Suc­cess­ful coali­tions must include edu­ca­tors, experts in diver­si­ty edu­ca­tion, polit­i­cal lead­ers, civ­il rights lead­ers, par­ents and stu­dents.
3. Ensure that tools and mes­sag­ing to oppose anti-CRT efforts are effec­tive and wide­ly avail­able.

If Amer­i­ca’s found­ing was real­ly “as pris­tine as the reli­gious myth requires it to be,” Clark­son observed, “it can­not be marked by the racism and geno­cide that the facts of his­to­ry reveal. His­to­ry is thus an exis­ten­tial cri­sis for Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist beliefs. That’s why his­to­ry must be revised and the evils that mark so much of our his­to­ry be erased, rather than acknowl­edged and addressed. The attack on the straw man of CRT is of a piece with what we might call the purifi­ca­tion of Amer­i­can his­to­ry in the name of God’s his­to­ry.”

But his­to­ry and pol­i­tics tend to be messy, not pure. “The Chris­t­ian right, sup­port­ed in part by the Project Blitz play­books, is using — and mas­ter­ing — the tools and insti­tu­tions of democ­ra­cy in order to erode or end them,” Clark­son said. “They know that well-orga­nized fac­tions can win elec­tions, begin­ning with low-turnout par­ty pri­maries, and that the Chris­t­ian Right minor­i­ty can gain the man­tle of demo­c­ra­t­ic legit­i­ma­cy by out-orga­niz­ing those of us who actu­al­ly believe in it.” So it’s up to “every­one to the left of the Chris­t­ian Right,” as Clark­son puts it, to mobi­lize for democ­ra­cy.

...

———-

“The Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist assault on democ­ra­cy goes stealth — but the push­back is work­ing” by Paul Rosen­berg; The Salon; 07/24/2021

Salon was the first to report and build on Clark­son’s find­ings, as well as sub­se­quent pro­gres­sive orga­niz­ing efforts which even­tu­al­ly drove Project Blitz back under­ground, fol­low­ing a high-pro­file USA Today exposé (Salon fol­low-up here.) Now, three years lat­er, Clark­son, a senior research ana­lyst at Polit­i­cal Research Asso­ciates, has unearthed the play­books Project Blitz has used since going dark, and dis­cussed their impli­ca­tions with Salon in an exclu­sive inter­view.

Launched in 2016, Project Blitz was no longer a secret move­ment by 2021. It had been exposed in 2018 by peo­ple like Fred­er­ick Clark­son and was forced to retool and repack­age the agen­da. Which is exact­ly what Project Blitz did, rework­ing the play­book with advice to leg­is­la­tors to cloak the intent of the mod­el leg­is­la­tion with sec­u­lar-sound­ing lan­guage. The Blitz got a makeover:

...
The play­books advise leg­is­la­tors to cloak their reli­gious mis­sion in the guise of more sec­u­lar inten­tions and they’ve renamed sev­er­al bills to make them sound more appeal­ing,” Clark­son report­ed at Reli­gion Dis­patch­es. But there’s anoth­er, more hope­ful mes­sage: These play­books “also tell a sto­ry of the resilience of demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions and lead­ers in the face of move­ments seek­ing to under­mine or end them.”

...

As Clark­son first report­ed, Project Blitz orig­i­nal­ly divid­ed its bills into three tiers. The first tier aimed at import­ing the Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist world­view into pub­lic schools and oth­er aspects of the pub­lic sphere. A sig­na­ture exam­ple is dis­play of the mot­to, “In God We Trust,” a Cold War replace­ment for “E pluribus unum” — out of many, one — which bet­ter reflects Amer­i­ca’s prag­mat­ic, plu­ral­ist foun­da­tions.

The sec­ond tier, “Res­o­lu­tions and Procla­ma­tions Rec­og­niz­ing the Impor­tance of Reli­gious His­to­ry and Free­dom,” aimed at mak­ing gov­ern­ment a part­ner in “Chris­tian­iz­ing” Amer­i­ca, large­ly by pro­mot­ing bogus his­tor­i­cal nar­ra­tives. For exam­ple, Clark­son told me, the mod­el “Civic Lit­er­a­cy Act and the Reli­gion in His­to­ry Acts,” required the study or post­ing of “the found­ing doc­u­ments” in the pub­lic schools, but with a twist:

“Curi­ous­ly, the Mayflower Com­pact is includ­ed as a found­ing doc­u­ment,” he said, “but there is no men­tion of the Vir­ginia Statute for Reli­gious Lib­er­ty [the law Thomas Jef­fer­son wrote which served as the mod­el for the First Amend­ment] ... because it throws a mon­key wrench into the Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist nar­ra­tive, which seeks to link Chris­tian­i­ty and nation­al iden­ti­ty from the British colonies at Jamestown and Ply­mouth to the present.”

The third tier con­tained three types of pro­posed laws that “pro­tect” reli­gious beliefs and prac­tices specif­i­cal­ly intend­ed to ben­e­fit big­otry. “Although cat­e­go­ry three is divid­ed in three parts, you could also see it as hav­ing two main under­ly­ing inten­tions,” Clark­son explained in a lat­er sto­ry. “First to den­i­grate the LGBTQ com­mu­ni­ty, and sec­ond to defend and advance the right to dis­crim­i­nate. This is one way that the agen­da of theo­crat­ic domin­ion­ism is reframed as pro­tect­ing the right of theocrats to dis­crim­i­nate against those deemed sec­ond-class, at best. As the late theo­crat­ic the­olo­gian R.J. Rush­doony said, ‘Only the right have rights.’ ”

The basic struc­ture of Project Blitz’s agen­da has­n’t changed much, but its pre­sen­ta­tion has. “The 2020–2021 play­book offers slick­er argu­ments than pre­vi­ous years,” Clark­son notes. “For exam­ple, they deny that they seek a theoc­ra­cy, try not to be overt­ly Chris­t­ian, present sec­u­lar argu­ments for their leg­is­la­tion and attempt to give the appear­ance that they respect reli­gious plu­ral­ism. But they don’t quite suc­ceed.”
...

But the changes to this agen­da weren’t lim­it­ed to aes­thet­ics. Project Blitz has been expand­ing into new areas in recent years too with a focus on libraries, “parental review boards”, and “crit­i­cal race the­o­ry”:

...
One new bill that Clark­son draws atten­tion to would crim­i­nal­ize libraries and librar­i­ans, and became infa­mous even before Project Blitz adopt­ed it:

The “Parental Over­sight of Pub­lic Libraries Act,” intro­duced by then-fresh­man Mis­souri State Rep. Ben Bak­er (R‑Neosho), ignit­ed a state and nation­al con­tro­ver­sy in Jan­u­ary 2020 short­ly after he took office. …

His bill sought to cre­ate “parental review boards” with the author­i­ty to “con­vene pub­lic hear­ings” and restrict access to any­thing they deemed “age-inap­pro­pri­ate sex­u­al mate­ri­als.” Not only would their deci­sions be “final,” but the bill also pre­scribed fines or jail for librar­i­ans who “will­ing­ly” vio­lat­ed board decrees regard­ing what is inap­pro­pri­ate, and includ­ed the poten­tial state defund­ing of libraries accused of vio­lat­ing the statute.

...

This attempt­ed intru­sion into local library pol­i­tics is just one exam­ple of how Project Blitz over­laps with the new wave of white back­lash under the ban­ner of fight­ing “crit­i­cal race the­o­ry.” For sev­er­al decades, the right has repeat­ed­ly mobi­lized to take over non­par­ti­san school boards, and occa­sion­al­ly library boards, as a way of build­ing grass­roots pow­er and groom­ing can­di­dates for high­er office. Such elec­tions usu­al­ly have low turnout and rel­a­tive­ly lit­tle cam­paign orga­ni­za­tion, which makes them attrac­tive tar­gets for extrem­ists run­ning scare-tac­tic cam­paigns. The parental over­sight bill takes things one step fur­ther by empow­er­ing small activist groups who invadie local gov­ern­ment meet­ings, but the orga­niz­ing prin­ci­ple is the same: Use fear and stealth to seize pow­er, and use sim­u­lat­ed demo­c­ra­t­ic legit­i­ma­cy to advance a divi­sive, reac­tionary agen­da.
...

And this expan­sion into crit­i­cal race the­o­ry and libraries is just a start. With a far right Supreme Court major­i­ty poised to give its bless­ings to all sorts of new Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist laws, there’s almost no lim­it to the range of poten­tial issues where Project Blitz could score real leg­isla­tive and judi­cial vic­to­ries. From anti-trans leg­is­la­tion to abor­tion to anti-COVID-relat­ed bills, the range of viable fights for Project Blitz to pick just keeps expand­ing. Each fight strate­gi­cal­ly cho­sen to bring the US one step clos­er to a theoc­ra­cy:

...
More wor­ri­some than Project Blitz itself, Gill said, are the forces behind it. “The same forces push­ing for­ward Project Blitz have now seized upon new issues, and they are already flood­ing state leg­is­la­tures with dan­ger­ous mod­el bills,” she said. “There were at least four major waves of harm­ful leg­is­la­tion prop­a­gat­ed in 2021: anti-trans youth leg­is­la­tion, reli­gious exemp­tions to COVID-relat­ed pub­lic health pro­tec­tions, broad denial-of-care bills, and bills that under­mine abor­tion access.

Of those, she says the most dan­ger­ous ele­ment is a “renewed empha­sis on Reli­gious Free­dom Restora­tion Act (RFRA) mea­sures at the state lev­el. RFRAs cre­ate a lim­it­ed exemp­tion from state laws when­ev­er reli­gious orga­ni­za­tions say that their activ­i­ties are bur­dened. RFRAs have been used to attack nondis­crim­i­na­tion pro­tec­tions, access to con­tra­cep­tion and abor­tion, and even child labor laws.

Such laws were a major focus of con­ser­v­a­tive activism dur­ing Barack Oba­ma’s pres­i­den­cy, although “none were suc­cess­ful­ly passed after sig­nif­i­cant pub­lic set­backs in 2015 in states like Indi­ana,” Gill not­ed. “In the wake of the pan­dem­ic and state-imposed pub­lic health restric­tions,” she said, “activists have rebrand­ed these bills as nec­es­sary to pro­tect church­es from gov­ern­ment over­reach.” Three states — Arkansas, Mon­tana and South Dako­ta — passed RFRAs this year, and we should expect to see many more com­ing in 2022, she warns.

...

If Amer­i­ca’s found­ing was real­ly “as pris­tine as the reli­gious myth requires it to be,” Clark­son observed, “it can­not be marked by the racism and geno­cide that the facts of his­to­ry reveal. His­to­ry is thus an exis­ten­tial cri­sis for Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist beliefs. That’s why his­to­ry must be revised and the evils that mark so much of our his­to­ry be erased, rather than acknowl­edged and addressed. The attack on the straw man of CRT is of a piece with what we might call the purifi­ca­tion of Amer­i­can his­to­ry in the name of God’s his­to­ry.”

But his­to­ry and pol­i­tics tend to be messy, not pure. “The Chris­t­ian right, sup­port­ed in part by the Project Blitz play­books, is using — and mas­ter­ing — the tools and insti­tu­tions of democ­ra­cy in order to erode or end them,” Clark­son said. “They know that well-orga­nized fac­tions can win elec­tions, begin­ning with low-turnout par­ty pri­maries, and that the Chris­t­ian Right minor­i­ty can gain the man­tle of demo­c­ra­t­ic legit­i­ma­cy by out-orga­niz­ing those of us who actu­al­ly believe in it.” So it’s up to “every­one to the left of the Chris­t­ian Right,” as Clark­son puts it, to mobi­lize for democ­ra­cy.
...

“The Chris­t­ian right, sup­port­ed in part by the Project Blitz play­books, is using — and mas­ter­ing — the tools and insti­tu­tions of democ­ra­cy in order to erode or end them.”

That’s the take home les­son here. The Chris­t­ian Right — which can’t real­ly be dis­en­tan­gled from the cor­po­rate Right — is using its mas­tery of the tools and insti­tu­tions of democ­ra­cy to end democ­ra­cy. When Michael Fly­nn called for “One nation under God, and one reli­gion under God,” he was­n’t just talk­ing to the audi­ence in that church. He was talk­ing to this net­work of theo­crat­ic pow­er bro­kers. Pow­er bro­kers intent on rewrit­ing laws, the con­sti­tu­tion, and his­to­ry itself. All for the glo­ry of God. Or, well, the glo­ry of some­thing at least...

What’s Next for the CNP? A Nationwide Bill Mill of Voter Suppression Laws

But Project Blitz isn’t the only ongo­ing theo­crat­ic project. The CNP and ALEC have found a new project to go all ‘bill mill’ on: vot­er sup­pres­sion laws. A few weeks ago, we learned about a crack team of Repub­li­can lawyers who have been secret­ly meet­ing with ALEC and work­ing out tem­plate vot­er sup­pres­sion laws designed for use by state leg­is­la­tors. Three of the five lawyers said to be spear­head­ing this ini­tia­tive are CNP mem­bers. One of them is Cle­ta Mitchell. Yes, Mitchell is still doing her work on behalf of the GOP despite being kicked out of her law firm for gross mal­prac­tice in rela­tion to her base­less vot­er fraud claims. And she’s joined by fel­low CNP mem­bers J Chris­t­ian Adams and Ken­neth Black­well in spear­head­ing this effort.

The two lawyers who aren’t known mem­bers CNP mem­bers are Jason Snead and Hans von Spakovksy. Snead is head­ing Hon­est Elec­tions Project, anoth­er GOP ‘elec­tion integri­ty’ out­fit that was set up in 2020 and busi­ly oppos­ing any state mea­sures to make it eas­i­er to vote dur­ing the pan­dem­ic. But while Snead may not be a CNP mem­ber, the founder of the Hon­est Elec­tions Project, Leonard Leo, is both a mem­ber of the CNP and a mem­ber of Opus Dei, which is reminder that CNP mem­bers aren’t exclu­sive­ly mem­bers of the CNP. They’re going to be mem­bers of all sorts of dif­fer­ent theo­crat­ic orga­ni­za­tions.

And Hans von Spakovksy, one of the GOP’s long­stand­ing vot­er-sup­pres­sion gurus, is no stranger to this group. Recall how both Spakovsky and J Chris­t­ian Adams appeared as neu­tral expert wit­ness­es in the tri­al over a Kansas vot­er ID law in sup­port of the new restric­tive law. Spakovsky got called out by the judge for being high­ly non-neu­tral and bas­ing his defense of the law on high­ly mis­lead­ing exam­ples and assump­tion. Adams was shot down in a sim­i­lar way by a judge the year before, call­ing the expert tes­ti­mo­ny by Adams’ group “mis­lead­ing” and “inac­cu­rate”. This is the crew that’s spear­head­ing the GOP’s ongo­ing vot­er sup­pres­sion efforts. Three of them CNP mem­bers and the oth­er two CNP fel­low trav­el­ers. Work­ing side-by-side with ALEC to cap­ture of democ­ra­cy:

The Guardian

The net­work of elec­tion lawyers who are mak­ing it hard­er for Amer­i­cans to vote

Vot­ing rights watch­dogs have warned of a web of attor­neys and groups, some who pushed Don­ald Trump’s big lie after the 2020 elec­tion

Peter Stone in Wash­ing­ton
Tue 14 Dec 2021 03.00 EST
Last mod­i­fied on Tue 14 Dec 2021 14.10 EST

A pow­er­ful net­work of con­ser­v­a­tive elec­tion lawyers and groups with links to Don­ald Trump have spent mil­lions of dol­lars pro­mot­ing new and oner­ous vot­ing laws that many bat­tle­ground states such as Geor­gia and Texas have enact­ed.

The moves have prompt­ed elec­tion and vot­ing rights watch­dogs in the US to warn about the sup­pres­sion of non-white vot­ers aimed at pro­vid­ing Repub­li­cans an edge in com­ing elec­tions.

The lawyers and groups spear­head­ing self-pro­fessed elec­tion integri­ty mea­sures include some fig­ures who pushed Trump’s base­less claims of fraud after the 2020 elec­tion. Key advo­cates include Cle­ta Mitchell with the Con­ser­v­a­tive Part­ner­ship insti­tute; J Chris­t­ian Adams of the Pub­lic Inter­est Legal Foun­da­tion; Hans von Spakovsky of the Her­itage Foun­da­tion; Jason Snead of the Hon­est Elec­tions Project; and J Ken­neth Black­well with the Amer­i­ca First Pol­i­cy Insti­tute.

These con­ser­v­a­tive out­fits tout their goal as curb­ing sig­nif­i­cant vot­er fraud, despite the fact that numer­ous courts, the vast major­i­ty of vot­ing experts and even for­mer top Trump offi­cials, such as ex-attor­ney gen­er­al Bill Barr, con­clud­ed the 2020 elec­tions were with­out seri­ous prob­lems.

Watch­dogs say that tight­en­ing state vot­ing laws endan­ger the rights of Black vot­ers and oth­er com­mu­ni­ties of col­or who his­tor­i­cal­ly back Democ­rats by cre­at­ing new rules lim­it­ing absen­tee vot­ing and same day reg­is­tra­tion, while impos­ing oth­er vot­ing curbs.

Among the elec­tion lawyers and groups advo­cat­ing tougher vot­ing laws, Mitchell, a vet­er­an con­ser­v­a­tive lawyer , boasts the high­est pro­file and has sparked the most scruti­ny. She took part in the 2 Jan­u­ary call where Trump prod­ded Georgia’s sec­re­tary of state Brad Raf­fensperg­er to “find” about 11,780 votes to over­turn Joe Biden’s vic­to­ry there. After details emerged about Mitchell’s role on the call, Foley & Lard­ner, where she had worked for near­ly 20 years, mount­ed an inter­nal review, and she resigned.

Trump’s 2 Jan­u­ary call also spawned a crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion by Georgia’s Ful­ton coun­ty dis­trict attor­ney that could cre­ate prob­lems for Mitchell, say ex-pros­e­cu­tors, and may bring scruti­ny of the lawyer by the House com­mit­tee look­ing into the 6 Jan­u­ary Capi­tol attack.

Mitchell, who report­ed­ly raised $1m to help fund a base­less inves­ti­ga­tion of Arizona’s largest coun­ty that Trump pushed aggres­sive­ly, gen­er­at­ed more con­tro­ver­sy last month when she was named to an advi­so­ry board for the fed­er­al Elec­tion Assis­tance Com­mis­sion with back­ing from her close legal ally Adams whose foun­da­tion Mitchell chairs.

Using her perch at CPI and anoth­er post with the lib­er­tar­i­an Free­dom­Works that ear­ly this year announced a sev­en-state dri­ve to revamp vot­ing laws led by Mitchell, the lawyer has helped spear­head new state elec­tion mea­sures and block two con­gres­sion­al bills – the John Lewis Vot­ing Rights Advance­ment Act and the Free­dom to Vote Act – which Democ­rats have been try­ing to enact to counter the wave of new state laws.

Accord­ing to an Octo­ber update from the Bren­nan Cen­ter for Jus­tice, 19 states had enact­ed 33 new laws this year that “will make it hard­er for Amer­i­cans to vote”.

To press for new state vot­ing laws, Mitchell has worked close­ly with some influ­en­tial groups qui­et­ly back­ing new mea­sures, such as the Amer­i­can Leg­isla­tive Exchange Coun­cil, a pow­er­ful and shad­owy group of state leg­is­la­tors that his­tor­i­cal­ly pro­motes mod­el bills where she used to be out­side coun­sel.

At an Alec meet­ing on 1 Decem­ber in Cal­i­for­nia, Mitchell helped lead a secre­tive “process work­ing group” ses­sion devot­ed to elec­tion and vot­ing law changes and relat­ed mat­ters that includ­ed sev­er­al top legal allies such as Adams and Von Spakovsky, accord­ing to reports from the Cen­ter for Media and Democ­ra­cy, and Doc­u­ment­ed.

Adams’ foun­da­tion, which in 2020 received about $300,000 from the Bradley Foun­da­tion, whose board includes Mitchell, has brought law­suits to defend some of the tough new vot­ing laws in Texas and oth­er states.

Top fun­ders of the right’s arma­da include a fam­i­ly foun­da­tion tied to bil­lion­aire Richard Uih­lein, the Bradley Foun­da­tion, and two dark mon­ey giants, the Con­cord Fund and Donors Trust, accord­ing to pub­lic records.

Legal watch­dogs raise strong con­cerns about the new laws pro­mot­ed by the right in numer­ous states such as Geor­gia and Texas, and note that the argu­ments for chang­ing vot­ing rules seem rife with con­tra­dic­tions.

“Dur­ing the 2021 leg­isla­tive ses­sion, we saw anti-vot­er orga­ni­za­tions push cook­ie-cut­ter leg­is­la­tion restrict­ing the right to vote in leg­is­la­tures across the coun­try,” said Danielle Lang, senior direc­tor of vot­ing rights at the non­par­ti­san Cam­paign Legal Cen­ter.

“The same lan­guage appeared in state after state with­out regard for the state’s par­tic­u­lar needs. For exam­ple, strict cut­backs on access to vote by mail were intro­duced in states that had whol­ly pos­i­tive vote by mail expe­ri­ences in 2020,” she added.

Such com­plaints have not deterred the leg­isla­tive blitz by Mitchell with allied lawyers and groups nation­wide to change vot­ing laws.

Mitchell declined to answer ques­tions from the Guardian about her vot­ing law work or the Geor­gia inves­ti­ga­tion, though in an inter­view ear­ly this year with the AP she boast­ed “I love leg­is­la­tures and work­ing with leg­is­la­tors”, and revealed that she talks to Trump “fair­ly fre­quent­ly”, but pro­vid­ed no details.

Mitchell’s ties to Mark Mead­ows, Trump’s for­mer chief of staff, are pal­pa­ble, too, includ­ing post elec­tion as a fren­zied and base­less dri­ve was under way to over­turn Trump’s loss.

On 30 Decem­ber, accord­ing to the Wash­ing­ton Post mag­a­zine, Mitchell wrote Mead­ows and “offered to send some 1,800 pages of doc­u­ments pur­port­ing to sup­port claims of elec­tion fraud”.

Mead­ows, who also has a senior post at CPI, now faces con­tempt charges for reneg­ing on tes­ti­fy­ing to the House pan­el about the 6 Jan­u­ary Capi­tol attack and ear­li­er efforts to block Biden from tak­ing office.

...

———-

“The net­work of elec­tion lawyers who are mak­ing it hard­er for Amer­i­cans to vote” by Peter Stone; The Guardian; 12/14/2021

“The lawyers and groups spear­head­ing self-pro­fessed elec­tion integri­ty mea­sures include some fig­ures who pushed Trump’s base­less claims of fraud after the 2020 elec­tion. Key advo­cates include Cle­ta Mitchell with the Con­ser­v­a­tive Part­ner­ship insti­tute; J Chris­t­ian Adams of the Pub­lic Inter­est Legal Foun­da­tion; Hans von Spakovsky of the Her­itage Foun­da­tion; Jason Snead of the Hon­est Elec­tions Project; and J Ken­neth Black­well with the Amer­i­ca First Pol­i­cy Insti­tute.”

Let’s see how many CNP mem­bers we can find here spear­head­ing this nation­wide push for ‘elec­tion integri­ty’ mea­sures. There’s of course Cle­ta Mitchell. But it also turns out J Chris­t­ian Adams and J Ken­neth Black­well are CNP mem­bers too. So of the five lawyers said to be spear­head­ing this ‘elec­tion integri­ty’ effort near­ly a year after the insur­rec­tion, we find three of them are CNP mem­bers. And one is none oth­er than Cle­ta Mitchell.

And while Hans von Spakovksy may not show up on the CNP mem­ber­ship list, recall how both Spakovsky and J Chris­t­ian Adams appeared as neu­tral expert wit­ness­es in the tri­al over a Kansas vot­er ID law in sup­port of the new restric­tive law. Spakovsky got called out by the judge for being high­ly non-neu­tral and bas­ing his defense of the law on high­ly mis­lead­ing exam­ples and assump­tion. Adams was shot down in a sim­i­lar way by a judge the year before, call­ing the expert tes­ti­mo­ny by Adams’ group “mis­lead­ing” and “inac­cu­rate”. Spakovsky has been one of the GOP’s vot­er-sup­pres­sion and ger­ry­man­der­ing gurus for years and even appears to be involved with the ori­gins of the “Italy­Gate” bonkers con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry about Italy sat­telites chang­ing the 2020 vote tal­lies.

Sim­i­lar­ly, while Snead may not be a direct CNP mem­ber, the founder of his Hon­est Elec­tions Project, Leonard Leo, is indeed a CNP mem­ber.

And note how Spakovksy, Adams, and Mitchell were all at a secret Decem­ber 1, 2021, ALEC “process work­ing group” ses­sion devot­ed to elec­tion and vot­ing law changes and relat­ed mat­ters. These three fig­ures con­sti­tute the legal core of the GOP’s fraud­u­lent ‘vot­er fraud’ cam­paign, and here they are secret­ly strate­giz­ing with ALEC:

...
Mitchell, who report­ed­ly raised $1m to help fund a base­less inves­ti­ga­tion of Arizona’s largest coun­ty that Trump pushed aggres­sive­ly, gen­er­at­ed more con­tro­ver­sy last month when she was named to an advi­so­ry board for the fed­er­al Elec­tion Assis­tance Com­mis­sion with back­ing from her close legal ally Adams whose foun­da­tion Mitchell chairs.

Using her perch at CPI and anoth­er post with the lib­er­tar­i­an Free­dom­Works that ear­ly this year announced a sev­en-state dri­ve to revamp vot­ing laws led by Mitchell, the lawyer has helped spear­head new state elec­tion mea­sures and block two con­gres­sion­al bills – the John Lewis Vot­ing Rights Advance­ment Act and the Free­dom to Vote Act – which Democ­rats have been try­ing to enact to counter the wave of new state laws.

...

To press for new state vot­ing laws, Mitchell has worked close­ly with some influ­en­tial groups qui­et­ly back­ing new mea­sures, such as the Amer­i­can Leg­isla­tive Exchange Coun­cil, a pow­er­ful and shad­owy group of state leg­is­la­tors that his­tor­i­cal­ly pro­motes mod­el bills where she used to be out­side coun­sel.

At an Alec meet­ing on 1 Decem­ber in Cal­i­for­nia, Mitchell helped lead a secre­tive “process work­ing group” ses­sion devot­ed to elec­tion and vot­ing law changes and relat­ed mat­ters that includ­ed sev­er­al top legal allies such as Adams and Von Spakovsky, accord­ing to reports from the Cen­ter for Media and Democ­ra­cy, and Doc­u­ment­ed.

Adams’ foun­da­tion, which in 2020 received about $300,000 from the Bradley Foun­da­tion, whose board includes Mitchell, has brought law­suits to defend some of the tough new vot­ing laws in Texas and oth­er states.
...

That’s what’s next for this move­ment. More of the same, but worse. More vot­er sup­pres­sion laws. More Project Blitz ini­tia­tives and gaslight­ing the pub­lic about the threats of CRT and trans youth. And more calls by fig­ures like Michael Fly­nn for a merg­er of church and state.

But let’s not kid our­selves. You can’t have a fas­cist theo­crat­ic move­ment oper­ate in ‘more of the same, but worse’ mode indef­i­nite­ly. At some point its going to be ‘more of the same, and now we’re a theoc­ra­cy’. How soon we get there depends on a num­ber of fac­tors. But per­haps the biggest fac­tor is the gross aban­don­ment of faith in democ­ra­cy as a insti­tu­tion on the part of con­ser­v­a­tive vot­ers. In oth­er words, how long does it take before all of the right-wing pro­pa­gan­da designed to under­mine faith in democ­ra­cy — whether its dis­in­for­ma­tion about mass vot­er fraud or QAnon-style con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries about Satan­ic lib­er­al elites — final­ly takes hold and there’s no longer a con­ser­v­a­tive appetite for shar­ing pow­er? How many more years of unyield­ing gaslight­ing and dis­in­for­ma­tion can pass before the Amer­i­can elec­torate sim­ply does­n’t care any­more if elec­tions are held at all? Don’t for­get that cli­mate change and the exis­ten­tial despair of eco­log­i­cal col­lapse are going to play­ing out too. The pol­i­tics of despair is a nat­ur­al fit for an End Times the­ol­o­gy. And when the pub­lic does final­ly reach that state of civic capit­u­la­tion, what are the odds they won’t run into the arms of charis­mat­ic theocrats wait­ing to chan­nel all of that con­fu­sion and angst? These are the kinds of ques­tions the Unit­ed States is effec­tive­ly ask­ing itself. How much longer before a large enough chunk of the US elec­torate is con­vinced that democ­ra­cy is doomed and some sort theoc­ra­cy is the only path to sal­va­tion? That’s the ques­tion the US is effec­tive­ly ask­ing itself these days.

But as we’ve seen, when it comes to the right-wing oli­garchy, it’s not real­ly a ques­tion of whether or not they would pre­fer a theoc­ra­cy. The pro­found influ­ence of the CNP makes that answer abun­dant­ly clear...as long as its a cor­po­ratist theoc­ra­cy. Instead, it’s just a ques­tion of how much more effort do groups like the CNP and Project Blitz have to invest before their vision is made man­i­fest. Will the oli­garchy get a major­i­ty of the pub­lic to sup­port its theoc­ra­cy? We’ll see, but let’s not for­get that pub­lic approval is kind of beside the point under this post-demo­c­ra­t­ic ver­sion of Heav­en on Earth.

Discussion

34 comments for “Oligarchs for Theocracy: Project Blitz, the Council for National Policy, and God’s Insurrection”

  1. Here’s a pair of arti­cles about the Hon­est Elec­tions Project that under­score how inter­twined the activ­i­ties of CNP mem­bers are with that of the Koch net­work of mega donors. Recall how we recent­ly learned about ongo­ing Repub­li­can efforts to push for stricter vot­ing laws being spear­head­ed by five lawyers, includ­ing Jason Snead, the head of the Hon­est Elec­tion Project. As we saw, three out of those five laway­ers were CNP mem­ber (Cle­ta Mitchell, J Chris­t­ian Adams, and Ken Black­well). And while Snead was not one of the CNP mem­bers, it was notable that the Hon­est Elec­tions Project was said to be found­ed by Leonard Leo, who is both a mem­ber of the CNP and Opus Dei.

    We’re also going to learn about anoth­er CNP mem­ber involved with run­ning the Hon­est Elec­tion Project: Car­rie Sev­eri­no.

    We’re going to take a clos­er look at who is actu­al­ly fund­ing the Hon­est Elec­tion Project. And it turns out, sur­prise!, we can’t actu­al­ly say who is ulti­mate­ly fund­ing it. Because it’s financed through DonorsTrust, the Koch net­work’s dark mon­ey vehi­cle of choice. So while Leonard Leo is part of the pub­lic face of the Hon­est Elec­tion Project, it’s still a mys­tery who is ulti­mate­ly financ­ing this activ­i­ty. The dark mon­ey sys­tem is work­ing as intend­ed.

    As we’re also going to see, it appears that the Hon­est Elec­tion Project is basi­cal­ly try­ing to play ‘good cop’ in some sort of ‘good cop’/‘bad cop’ vot­er fraud the­atrics. The group is shy­ing away from endors­ing the spe­cif­ic vot­er fraud claims in rela­tion to Don­ald Trump’s 2020 elec­toral loss. It’s also brand­ing itself as the Repub­li­can estab­lish­men­t’s answer to the ques­tions about vot­er fraud swirling around the Repub­li­can Par­ty’s very core iden­ti­ty at this point. But it’s still ful­ly endors­ing the gen­er­al Repub­li­can nar­ra­tives about vot­er fraud, busi­ly fil­ing briefs with courts in favor or more restric­tive laws. And in that sense it is indeed a fit­ting estab­lish­ment response. Tox­i­cal­ly decep­tive to the end:

    Asso­ci­at­ed Press

    Con­ser­v­a­tive group push­es pro­pos­als to tight­en vot­ing laws

    By NICHOLAS RICCARDI
    March 2, 2021

    As Don­ald Trump made false alle­ga­tions about vot­ing fraud and tried to over­turn the will of the peo­ple in last year’s elec­tion, one of his chief allies was con­spic­u­ous­ly silent. The Hon­est Elec­tions Project, a lead­ing advo­cate for more restric­tive vot­ing laws, stayed away from Trump’s doomed effort.

    But now the group found­ed by con­ser­v­a­tive activist and infor­mal Trump advis­er Leonard Leo, is re-join­ing the debate with a new set of rec­om­men­da­tions like­ly to guide GOP law­mak­ers as they over­haul vot­ing sys­tems. The sug­ges­tions range from ones that are like­ly to be embraced by Democ­rats and vot­ing rights groups — allow­ing elec­tion offices to start pro­cess­ing mail bal­lots weeks before Elec­tion Day — to ones like­ly to spark fierce oppo­si­tion, such as manda­to­ry vot­er iden­ti­fi­ca­tion for both mail and in-per­son vot­ing, and cre­ation of a secure sys­tem that would link an absen­tee bal­lot to its vot­er.

    The pro­pos­als come as the GOP remains divid­ed by Trump’s false claims. Repub­li­cans are wrestling with how far to go in over­haul­ing vot­ing laws with­out embrac­ing Trump’s con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries or dam­ag­ing Repub­li­cans’ polit­i­cal prospects. Hon­est Elec­tions’ push is essen­tial­ly an estab­lish­ment Repub­li­can answer to some of those ques­tions.

    “There is much more to the elec­tion reform push than what hap­pened after the Novem­ber elec­tion,” said Jason Snead, the group’s exec­u­tive direc­tor.

    Snead argued that the pro­pos­als are crit­i­cal to restore what he says is a slid­ing con­fi­dence in the country’s vot­ing sys­tem.

    “A lot of vot­ers on both sides are primed to view the cred­i­bil­i­ty of elec­tions through a par­ti­san lens. They tend to view the valid­i­ty of an elec­tion through its out­comes,” Snead said. “We’ve learned a lot of lessons and we should be doing what we can to tight­en up the process.”

    But Snead made a point to sep­a­rate his group from the post-elec­tion efforts — launched by Trump but embraced by many GOP groups and law­mak­ers — to reverse the out­come of the pres­i­den­tial vote.

    The Hon­est Elec­tions Project was cre­at­ed in ear­ly 2020 to advo­cate for greater con­trols on elec­tions. The group has drawn scruti­ny in part because of Leo’s influ­ence in con­ser­v­a­tive legal cir­cles. As co-chair­man of the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety, Leo helped spear­head the effort to appoint con­ser­v­a­tive judges to the fed­er­al courts.

    The group does not dis­close its donors and there will be no pub­lic report­ing of how it spends its mon­ey until lat­er this year, at the ear­li­est.

    Last year, Hon­est Elec­tions was part of the GOP legal strat­e­gy to fight vot­ing changes, many of which were aimed at mak­ing vot­ing eas­i­er dur­ing the pan­dem­ic. It sued Michi­gan, forc­ing the state to clean up its list of reg­is­tered vot­ers, and blocked a set­tle­ment eas­ing absen­tee vot­ing rules in Min­neso­ta.

    But the group, along with some oth­er GOP legal and elec­tion pol­i­cy experts, stayed away from Trump’s insis­tence the elec­tion had been stolen from him. Repeat­ed audits and reviews turned up no sig­nif­i­cant-scale fraud in the elec­tion and Trump and his allies lost more than 50 court cas­es try­ing to prove it.

    “We looked very care­ful­ly at all the alle­ga­tions that were com­ing out after the elec­tion,” Snead said. “We con­clud­ed, as did a lot of oth­er folks, that there was no evi­dence of wide­spread fraud.”

    The false claim of fraud drove Trump’s sup­port­ers’ assault on the U.S. Capi­tol on Jan. 6. It’s still an ani­mat­ing force for the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment, as shown by last week’s Con­ser­v­a­tive Polit­i­cal Action Con­fer­ence in Flori­da, where Trump false­ly claimed that ille­gal immi­grants and dead peo­ple vot­ed and the crowd chant­ed “You won!”

    It’s also dri­ven Repub­li­can-con­trolled states to increase bar­ri­ers to vot­ing. In Iowa, the leg­is­la­ture has vot­ed to cut absen­tee and in-per­son ear­ly vot­ing and pre­vent local elec­tions offi­cials from set­ting up addi­tion­al loca­tions to make ear­ly vot­ing eas­i­er. In Geor­gia, the House on Mon­day vot­ed for a law to require iden­ti­fi­ca­tion to vote by mail and allow coun­ties to can­cel ear­ly in-per­son vot­ing on Sun­days, when many Black vot­ers cast bal­lots after church.

    Snead says his group hasn’t weighed in on these pro­pos­als because it was busy research­ing its own rec­om­men­da­tions. Among them are ones that would like­ly find bipar­ti­san sup­port, such as extend­ing the time when elec­tion offices can per­form the time-con­sum­ing work of open­ing and sort­ing mail bal­lots to ready them for elec­tion night count­ing. The fail­ure of key swing states to per­mit this led to pro­longed vote counts that Trump used to false­ly claim fraud was occur­ring.

    Oth­er rec­om­men­da­tions will find resis­tance, such as requir­ing a pho­to iden­ti­fi­ca­tion to vote by mail or paus­ing vot­er reg­is­tra­tion 30 days before Elec­tion Day. Per­haps the most sig­nif­i­cant rec­om­men­da­tion is to cre­ate a sys­tem enabling elec­tion offices to tie a mail bal­lot back to the enve­lope in which it was sub­mit­ted. Trump demand­ed that elec­tion offi­cials do that, but they were unable to do so because it would have vio­lat­ed the secre­cy of the bal­lot.

    Snead said that to pre­serve the prin­ci­ple of a secret bal­lot, elec­tion offices should use data ran­dom­iza­tion to keep vot­ers’ iden­ti­ties anony­mous dur­ing bal­lot count­ing.

    ...

    ———-

    “Con­ser­v­a­tive group push­es pro­pos­als to tight­en vot­ing laws” by NICHOLAS RICCARDI; Asso­ci­at­ed Press; 03/02/2021

    “The pro­pos­als come as the GOP remains divid­ed by Trump’s false claims. Repub­li­cans are wrestling with how far to go in over­haul­ing vot­ing laws with­out embrac­ing Trump’s con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries or dam­ag­ing Repub­li­cans’ polit­i­cal prospects. Hon­est Elec­tions’ push is essen­tial­ly an estab­lish­ment Repub­li­can answer to some of those ques­tions.

    LOL! Hon­est Elec­tions’ push is essen­tial­ly an estab­lish­ment Repub­li­can answer to the ques­tion of how far to go in over­haul­ing vot­ing laws with­out embrac­ing Trump’s con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries or dam­ag­ing Repub­li­cans’ polit­i­cal prospects. That was the spin we were get­ting back in March of 2021. So the GOP estab­lish­ment appar­ent­ly felt like a cou­ple of months was enough time to wait after the insur­rec­tion to resume its sup­port for exact­ly the kind of mass vot­er fraud lies that the insur­rec­tion was pred­i­cat­ed on.

    We see Jason Snead inter­viewed as the group’s exec­u­tive direc­tor and Leonard Leo list­ed as the founder. Snead was clear­ly try­ing to empha­size how the Hon­est Elec­tion Project was­n’t alleg­ing the kind of wide­spread fraud the Trump team and many of its allies — like Cle­ta Mitchell — were aggres­sive­ly alleg­ing. No, the Hon­est Elec­tion Project was focused on more gen­er­al vot­er fraud. At the same time, Snead falls back on the favored GOP argu­ment that the US should pass restric­tive new vot­er laws due to vot­er per­cep­tions that there’s a major prob­lem with vot­er fraud. It’s like Hon­est Elec­tions Project is play­ing the role of ‘good cop’ in a ‘good cop’/‘bad cop’ gaslight­ing schtick:

    ...
    But now the group found­ed by con­ser­v­a­tive activist and infor­mal Trump advis­er Leonard Leo, is re-join­ing the debate with a new set of rec­om­men­da­tions like­ly to guide GOP law­mak­ers as they over­haul vot­ing sys­tems. The sug­ges­tions range from ones that are like­ly to be embraced by Democ­rats and vot­ing rights groups — allow­ing elec­tion offices to start pro­cess­ing mail bal­lots weeks before Elec­tion Day — to ones like­ly to spark fierce oppo­si­tion, such as manda­to­ry vot­er iden­ti­fi­ca­tion for both mail and in-per­son vot­ing, and cre­ation of a secure sys­tem that would link an absen­tee bal­lot to its vot­er.

    ...

    There is much more to the elec­tion reform push than what hap­pened after the Novem­ber elec­tion,” said Jason Snead, the group’s exec­u­tive direc­tor.

    Snead argued that the pro­pos­als are crit­i­cal to restore what he says is a slid­ing con­fi­dence in the country’s vot­ing sys­tem.

    “A lot of vot­ers on both sides are primed to view the cred­i­bil­i­ty of elec­tions through a par­ti­san lens. They tend to view the valid­i­ty of an elec­tion through its out­comes,” Snead said. “We’ve learned a lot of lessons and we should be doing what we can to tight­en up the process.”

    But Snead made a point to sep­a­rate his group from the post-elec­tion efforts — launched by Trump but embraced by many GOP groups and law­mak­ers — to reverse the out­come of the pres­i­den­tial vote.

    ...

    But the group, along with some oth­er GOP legal and elec­tion pol­i­cy experts, stayed away from Trump’s insis­tence the elec­tion had been stolen from him. Repeat­ed audits and reviews turned up no sig­nif­i­cant-scale fraud in the elec­tion and Trump and his allies lost more than 50 court cas­es try­ing to prove it.

    “We looked very care­ful­ly at all the alle­ga­tions that were com­ing out after the elec­tion,” Snead said. “We con­clud­ed, as did a lot of oth­er folks, that there was no evi­dence of wide­spread fraud.”
    ...

    And note how the Hon­est Elec­tions Project was act­ing in March of 2021 like it had noth­ing to do with those dis­taste­ful attempts to over­turn the 2020 vote after the elec­tion, a nar­ra­tive that con­ve­nient­ly ignores the real­i­ty that the project spent 2020 act­ing to make it hard­er to vot­er. Whether or not the group backed Trump’s stolen elec­tion nar­ra­tive after the elec­tion ignores the real­i­ty that the GOP and its allies were prepar­ing to steal the 2020 elec­tion for Trump long before the first votes were cast:

    ...
    The Hon­est Elec­tions Project was cre­at­ed in ear­ly 2020 to advo­cate for greater con­trols on elec­tions. The group has drawn scruti­ny in part because of Leo’s influ­ence in con­ser­v­a­tive legal cir­cles. As co-chair­man of the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety, Leo helped spear­head the effort to appoint con­ser­v­a­tive judges to the fed­er­al courts.

    The group does not dis­close its donors and there will be no pub­lic report­ing of how it spends its mon­ey until lat­er this year, at the ear­li­est.

    Last year, Hon­est Elec­tions was part of the GOP legal strat­e­gy to fight vot­ing changes, many of which were aimed at mak­ing vot­ing eas­i­er dur­ing the pan­dem­ic. It sued Michi­gan, forc­ing the state to clean up its list of reg­is­tered vot­ers, and blocked a set­tle­ment eas­ing absen­tee vot­ing rules in Min­neso­ta.
    ...

    Ok, and now here’s a Guardian arti­cle from back in May of 2020, cov­er­ing a pre­vi­ous­ly unknown group that seemed to sud­den­ly pop out of nowhere push­ing ques­tion­able claims about mas­sive vot­er fraud and the need for new vot­ing restric­tions. But it turns out this group, the Hon­est Elec­tion Project, isn’t quite is inde­pen­dent as it claims. Because it turns out the Hon­est Elec­tion Project goes by anoth­er name: The Judi­cial Edu­ca­tion Project, a group that has been almost entire­ly fund­ed for the last decade from the Kochs’ major dark mon­ey vehi­cle, DonorsTrust.

    So weren’t we being told in March of 2021 that the Hon­est Elec­tions Project was found­ed by Leonard Leo? Well, it turns out The Judi­cial Edu­ca­tion Project is indeed one of Leo’s projects. So the Hon­est Elec­tions Project is, in real­i­ty, The Judi­cial Edu­ca­tion Project which has been led by Leo but financed by who­ev­er hap­pened to direct that mon­ey through DonorsTrust. But we don’t get to know who that ulti­mate­ly is. It could be Leo him­self. Maybe Charles Koch. Or Robert Mer­cer. Or Bet­sy DeVos. Or any of the oth­er right-wing mega-donors are use DonorsTrust to anony­mous dish out dona­tions.

    And in addi­tion to Leonard Leo being an CNP, and we also learn about anoth­er CNP mem­ber involved with the Hon­est Elec­tions Project: Car­rie Sev­eri­no. So at this point, two out of the three peo­ple we know of who are involved with the Hon­est Elec­tion Project are mem­bers of the CNP:

    The Guardian

    Revealed: con­ser­v­a­tive group fight­ing to restrict vot­ing tied to pow­er­ful dark mon­ey net­work

    Sam Levine and Anna Mas­soglia
    Wed 27 May 2020 07.00 EDT
    Last mod­i­fied on Tue 15 Dec 2020 09.32 EST

    This sto­ry was report­ed in col­lab­o­ra­tion with OpenSe­crets.

    A pow­er­ful new con­ser­v­a­tive orga­ni­za­tion fight­ing to restrict vot­ing in the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion is real­ly just a rebrand­ed group that is part of a dark mon­ey net­work already help­ing Don­ald Trump’s unprece­dent­ed effort to remake the US fed­er­al judi­cia­ry, the Guardian and OpenSe­crets reveal.

    The orga­ni­za­tion, which calls itself the Hon­est Elec­tions Project, seemed to emerge out of nowhere a few months ago and start­ed stok­ing fears about vot­er fraud. Backed by a dark mon­ey group fund­ed by rightwing stal­warts like the Koch broth­ers and Bet­sy DeVos’ fam­i­ly, the Hon­est Elec­tions Project is part of the net­work that pushed the US supreme court picks Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gor­such, and is quick­ly becom­ing a jug­ger­naut in the esca­lat­ing fight over vot­ing rights.

    The project announced it was spend­ing $250,000 in adver­tise­ments in April, warn­ing against vot­ing by mail and accus­ing Democ­rats of cheat­ing. It facil­i­tat­ed let­ters to elec­tion offi­cials in Col­orado, Flori­da and Michi­gan, using mis­lead­ing data to accuse juris­dic­tions of hav­ing bloat­ed vot­er rolls and threat­en­ing legal action.

    Call­ing vot­er sup­pres­sion a “myth”, it has also been extreme­ly active in the courts, fil­ing briefs in favor of vot­ing restric­tions in Neva­da, Vir­ginia, Texas, Wis­con­sin and Min­neso­ta, among oth­er places, at times rep­re­sent­ed by lawyers from the same firm that rep­re­sents Trump. By hav­ing a hand in both vot­ing lit­i­ga­tion and the judges on the fed­er­al bench, this net­work could cre­ate a sys­tem where con­ser­v­a­tive donors have an avenue to both oppose vot­ing rights and appoint judges to back that effort.

    Despite appear­ing to be a free-stand­ing new oper­a­tion, the Hon­est Elec­tions Project is just a legal alias for the Judi­cial Edu­ca­tion Project, a well-financed non­prof­it con­nect­ed to a pow­er­ful net­work of dark mon­ey con­ser­v­a­tive groups, accord­ing to busi­ness records reviewed by the Guardian and OpenSe­crets.

    “These are real­ly well-fund­ed groups that in the con­text of judi­cial nom­i­na­tions have been sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly, over the long term but also the short term, kind of push­ing an agen­da to pack the courts with pret­ty extreme right wing nom­i­nees,” said Vani­ta Gup­ta, the pres­i­dent and CEO of the Lead­er­ship Con­fer­ence on Civ­il and Human Rights. “The infra­struc­ture that they’ve built over the years has been a real­ly impor­tant vehi­cle for them to do this.”

    For near­ly a decade, the orga­ni­za­tion has been almost entire­ly fund­ed by DonorsTrust, known as a “dark mon­ey ATM” backed by the Koch net­work and oth­er promi­nent con­ser­v­a­tive donors, accord­ing to data tracked by OpenSe­crets. In 2018, more than 99% of the Judi­cial Edu­ca­tion Project’s fund­ing came from a sin­gle $7.8m dona­tion from DonorsTrust.

    The Judi­cial Edu­ca­tion Project is also close­ly linked to Leonard Leo, one of the most pow­er­ful peo­ple in Wash­ing­ton who has shaped Don­ald Trump’s unprece­dent­ed effort to remake the fed­er­al judi­cia­ry with con­ser­v­a­tive judges.

    The orga­ni­za­tion has deft­ly hid­den the changes to its name from pub­lic view. In Decem­ber, the Judi­cial Edu­ca­tion Project for­mal­ly changed its legal name to The 85 Fund, a group Leo backed to fun­nel “tens of mil­lions” of dol­lars into con­ser­v­a­tive caus­es, accord­ing to Axios. The Hon­est Elec­tions Project is mere­ly a fic­ti­tious name – an alias – the fund legal­ly adopt­ed in Feb­ru­ary. The change was near­ly indis­cernible because The 85 Fund reg­is­tered two oth­er legal alias­es on the same day, includ­ing the Judi­cial Edu­ca­tion Project, its old name. The legal maneu­ver allows it to oper­ate under four dif­fer­ent names with lit­tle pub­lic dis­clo­sure that it is the same group.

    The Judi­cial Edu­ca­tion Project is close­ly aligned with the Judi­cial Cri­sis Net­work, a group with unmatched influ­ence in recent years in shap­ing the fed­er­al judi­cia­ry. The Judi­cial Cri­sis Net­work spear­head­ed the cam­paigns to get Gor­such and Kavanaugh con­firmed to the US supreme court, spend­ing mil­lions of dol­lars in each instance. It has also spent sig­nif­i­cant­ly on crit­i­cal state supreme court races across the coun­try.

    There is a lot of over­lap between the Hon­est Elec­tions Project and the Judi­cial Cri­sis Net­work. Both groups share per­son­nel, includ­ing Car­rie Sev­eri­no, the influ­en­tial pres­i­dent of the Judi­cial Cri­sis Net­work. Both groups have been fund­ed by The Well­spring Com­mit­tee, a group Leo raised mon­ey for until it shut down in 2018. Both have also paid mon­ey to BH Group, an LLC Leo once dis­closed as his employ­er, that made a $1m mys­tery dona­tion to Trump’s inau­gu­ra­tion.

    “This is a small com­mu­ni­ty that is real­ly try­ing to push for­ward these more sup­pres­sive tac­tics that will be chal­lenged in court and hav­ing those judges on the bench, they’re real­ly hop­ing it’s going to con­tin­ue to rig the sys­tem in their favor,” said Lena Zwaren­steyn, who close­ly fol­lows judi­cial nom­i­na­tions at the Lead­er­ship Con­fer­ence. “By chang­ing the rules of the game and who the ref­er­ees are, they’re try­ing to change the land­scape.”

    ...

    The Hon­est Elec­tions Project has become active as Repub­li­cans are scal­ing up their efforts to fight to keep vot­ing restric­tions in place ahead of the elec­tion. The Repub­li­can Nation­al Com­mit­tee will spend at least $20m on lit­i­ga­tion over vot­ing rights and wants to recruit up to 50,000 peo­ple to help mon­i­tor the polls and oth­er elec­tion activ­i­ties.

    ...

    ———–

    “Revealed: con­ser­v­a­tive group fight­ing to restrict vot­ing tied to pow­er­ful dark mon­ey net­work” by Sam Levine and Anna Mas­soglia; The Guardian; 05/27/2020

    “The orga­ni­za­tion, which calls itself the Hon­est Elec­tions Project, seemed to emerge out of nowhere a few months ago and start­ed stok­ing fears about vot­er fraud. Backed by a dark mon­ey group fund­ed by rightwing stal­warts like the Koch broth­ers and Bet­sy DeVos’ fam­i­ly, the Hon­est Elec­tions Project is part of the net­work that pushed the US supreme court picks Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gor­such, and is quick­ly becom­ing a jug­ger­naut in the esca­lat­ing fight over vot­ing rights.”

    The Hon­est Elec­tions Project just seemed to emerge out of nowhere back in May of 2020. A new dark­money group that sud­den­ly pops up, stok­ing fears about vot­er fraud, and call­ing vot­er sup­pres­sion a “myth” while it wages one legal brief­ing after anoth­er in favor of vot­ing restric­tions. The project was act­ing as a ‘friends-of-the-court’ mill, in keep­ing with the increas­ing­ly pop­u­lar dark mon­ey prac­tice. But it’s the fact that the peo­ple behind the Hon­est Elec­tion Project are simul­ta­ne­ous­ly behind the stack­ing of state and fed­er­al courts courts with right-wing judges that makes this a par­tic­u­lar­ly potent lob­by­ing net­work. They’re effec­tive­ly lob­by­ing their own plants:

    ...
    Call­ing vot­er sup­pres­sion a “myth”, it has also been extreme­ly active in the courts, fil­ing briefs in favor of vot­ing restric­tions in Neva­da, Vir­ginia, Texas, Wis­con­sin and Min­neso­ta, among oth­er places, at times rep­re­sent­ed by lawyers from the same firm that rep­re­sents Trump. By hav­ing a hand in both vot­ing lit­i­ga­tion and the judges on the fed­er­al bench, this net­work could cre­ate a sys­tem where con­ser­v­a­tive donors have an avenue to both oppose vot­ing rights and appoint judges to back that effort.
    ...

    But here’s where we get to see why the US’s dark mon­ey laws are so wild­ly con­ve­nient for oli­garchs inter­est­ed in secret­ly wield­ing influ­ence: it turns out the Hon­est Elec­tions Project is just a legal alias for a dif­fer­ent enti­ty. The Judi­cial Edu­ca­tion Project, which has long been almost entire­ly fund­ed by DonorsTrust, the main dark mon­ey vehi­cle favored by not just the Kochs but all sorts of oth­er right-wing mega-donors like Robert Mer­cers or Bet­sy DeVos. In 2018, 99% of the Judi­cial Edu­ca­tion Projects fund­ing came from a sin­gle $7.8 mil­lion dona­tion from DonorsTrust. So the Hon­est Elec­tions Project is basi­cal­ly just a new anony­mous front for an exist­ing anony­mous front. Then, in Decem­ber of 2020, the Judi­cial Elec­tions Project changed its name to The 85 Fund. As we’ve seen, while they may have changed the name to The 85 Fund, the under­ly­ing mes­sage was the same, with the group focused on push­ing bogus vot­er fraud claims in the weeks fol­low­ing the Jan­u­ary 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion. The 85 Fund then reg­is­tered two new names for itself on the same day, includ­ing the Judi­cial Edu­ca­tion Project. In the end, the same enti­ty was legal­ly allowed to oper­ate under four dif­fer­ent names:

    ...
    Despite appear­ing to be a free-stand­ing new oper­a­tion, the Hon­est Elec­tions Project is just a legal alias for the Judi­cial Edu­ca­tion Project, a well-financed non­prof­it con­nect­ed to a pow­er­ful net­work of dark mon­ey con­ser­v­a­tive groups, accord­ing to busi­ness records reviewed by the Guardian and OpenSe­crets.

    ...

    For near­ly a decade, the orga­ni­za­tion has been almost entire­ly fund­ed by DonorsTrust, known as a “dark mon­ey ATM” backed by the Koch net­work and oth­er promi­nent con­ser­v­a­tive donors, accord­ing to data tracked by OpenSe­crets. In 2018, more than 99% of the Judi­cial Edu­ca­tion Project’s fund­ing came from a sin­gle $7.8m dona­tion from DonorsTrust.

    The Judi­cial Edu­ca­tion Project is also close­ly linked to Leonard Leo, one of the most pow­er­ful peo­ple in Wash­ing­ton who has shaped Don­ald Trump’s unprece­dent­ed effort to remake the fed­er­al judi­cia­ry with con­ser­v­a­tive judges.

    The orga­ni­za­tion has deft­ly hid­den the changes to its name from pub­lic view. In Decem­ber, the Judi­cial Edu­ca­tion Project for­mal­ly changed its legal name to The 85 Fund, a group Leo backed to fun­nel “tens of mil­lions” of dol­lars into con­ser­v­a­tive caus­es, accord­ing to Axios. The Hon­est Elec­tions Project is mere­ly a fic­ti­tious name – an alias – the fund legal­ly adopt­ed in Feb­ru­ary. The change was near­ly indis­cernible because The 85 Fund reg­is­tered two oth­er legal alias­es on the same day, includ­ing the Judi­cial Edu­ca­tion Project, its old name. The legal maneu­ver allows it to oper­ate under four dif­fer­ent names with lit­tle pub­lic dis­clo­sure that it is the same group.
    ...

    Final­ly, note the shared per­son­nel between the Hon­st Elec­tions Project and the Judi­cial Cri­sis Net­work: both groups share Car­rie Sev­eri­no, pres­i­dent of the Judi­cial Cri­sis Net­work. And, yes, in addi­tion to Leonard Leo, Sev­eri­no is also a CNP mem­ber. You can’t real­ly sep­a­rate the Hon­est Elec­tions Project from the Koch net­work or the CNP. It’s a project of the oli­garchy:

    ...
    The Judi­cial Edu­ca­tion Project is close­ly aligned with the Judi­cial Cri­sis Net­work, a group with unmatched influ­ence in recent years in shap­ing the fed­er­al judi­cia­ry. The Judi­cial Cri­sis Net­work spear­head­ed the cam­paigns to get Gor­such and Kavanaugh con­firmed to the US supreme court, spend­ing mil­lions of dol­lars in each instance. It has also spent sig­nif­i­cant­ly on crit­i­cal state supreme court races across the coun­try.

    There is a lot of over­lap between the Hon­est Elec­tions Project and the Judi­cial Cri­sis Net­work. Both groups share per­son­nel, includ­ing Car­rie Sev­eri­no, the influ­en­tial pres­i­dent of the Judi­cial Cri­sis Net­work. Both groups have been fund­ed by The Well­spring Com­mit­tee, a group Leo raised mon­ey for until it shut down in 2018. Both have also paid mon­ey to BH Group, an LLC Leo once dis­closed as his employ­er, that made a $1m mys­tery dona­tion to Trump’s inau­gu­ra­tion.
    ...

    Also recall how the BH Group’s mys­tery dona­tion to the Trump inau­gur­al fund could be a lot more scan­dalous than present­ly rec­og­nized giv­en the pay-to-play cor­rup­tion bonan­za of that time. It’s a reminder of the extreme flex­i­bil­i­ty of these dark mon­ey laws.

    So we’ll see what the Hon­est Elec­tion Project has planned for upcom­ing elec­tion cycles. Although we can be pret­ty con­fi­dent that it will involve more decep­tive yet reas­sur­ing calls for the need for new restric­tive vot­er laws. Pre­sum­ably along with anoth­er name change or two.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 8, 2022, 4:22 pm
  2. Here’s a piece pub­lished a few days ago, on the one year anniver­sary of the Jan­u­ary 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion, that is the per­fect exam­ple of the kind of dan­gers inher­ent in calls for spe­cial big­otry priv­i­leges just for con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­tians. The piece is writ­ten by CNP mem­ber Daniel Suhr, the Man­ag­ing Attor­ney at the Lib­er­ty Jus­tice Cen­ter, one of the many right-wing ‘think tanks’ financed by the Koch net­work of meta-donors. Suhr was also the Chief of Staff of Wis­con­sin’s for­mer Lt. Gov­er­nor Rebec­ca Kleefisch. Kleefisch is run­ning for the gov­er­nor’s office in this year’s elec­tions. In oth­er words, Suhr appears to be posi­tioned to become the Chief of Staff of the next gov­er­nor of Wis­con­sin, should Kleefisch win.

    So check out Suhr’s recent opin­ion piece pub­lished on Jan­u­ary 6, 2022. A piece that warns about the dan­gers of ‘wok­ism’ in the mil­i­tary. Dan­gers that were exac­er­bat­ed by all of the con­cern aroused by the Jan­u­ary 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion and the large num­ber of cur­rent and for­mer mem­bers of the mil­i­tary and law enforce­ment involved with insur­rec­tion. First, Suhr makes the point of dis­tin­guish­ing between the peo­ple who actu­al­ly rushed the Capi­tol vs those who were mere­ly at the ral­ly at the Ellipse that imme­di­ate­ly pre­ced­ed and com­plains about the lat­ter group fac­ing pun­ish­ment for attend­ing a legal protest. This com­plaint was made despite the fact that no one is being pun­ished pure­ly for attend­ing hte Ellipse ral­ly.

    But then Suhr goes on to tie in the renewed focus in the US mil­i­tary on root­ing out vio­lent extrem­ists with the dan­ger of pun­ish­ing pun­ish­ing Chris­tians mere­ly for uphold­ing Bib­li­cal teach­ings. Yep, that’s the spin. As Suhr puts it, “Jan. 6 is now claimed as the social­ly accept­able rea­son to tar­get “extrem­ism” and “domes­tic ter­ror­ism” and “hate,” lead­ing to poli­cies like this new one. But those words, like all oth­ers, require def­i­n­i­tion. Words like “extrem­ist” and “hate” are now applied to some Chris­tians in our cul­ture, mere­ly for uphold­ing Bib­li­cal teach­ings.” Suhr goes on to warn that con­ser­v­a­tives are right to wor­ry that the mil­i­tary’s diver­si­ty, equi­ty, and inclu­sion (DEI) agen­da is not a legit­i­mate exer­cise in main­tain­ing morale but rather a stalk­ing horse for an ide­o­log­i­cal agen­da creep­ing into the mil­i­tary. That ide­o­log­i­cal agen­da being crit­i­cal race the­o­ry. He also warns about trans­gen­dered troops, just for good mea­sure. Along with warn­ings about sol­diers being forced to take a COVID vac­cine despite their reli­gious objec­tions. All the great­est hits.

    So that’s the mes­sage the like­ly future chief of staff of the next gov­er­nor of Wis­con­sin decid­ed to pub­lish on the one year anniver­sary of Capi­tol insur­rec­tion: a warn­ing to the pub­lic that mea­sures to root out extrem­ism in the mil­i­tary, ele­vat­ed in response to the insur­rec­tion, were actu­al­ly part of a sin­is­ter ide­o­log­i­cal attempt to oppress Chris­tians and pro­mote crit­i­cal race the­o­ry:

    World News Group

    The dan­ger of woke war­riors

    New Pen­ta­gon pol­i­cy could mark anoth­er ide­o­log­i­cal agen­da in the nation’s mil­i­tary

    by Daniel Suhr
    Post Date:
    Jan­u­ary 6, 2022

    Late last month, buried in the slow news days of the hol­i­days, the U.S. Depart­ment of Defense issued new guide­lines on “com­bat­ting extrem­ist activ­i­ties” with­in the mil­i­tary. The doc­u­ment stems from a work­ing group set up to study par­tic­i­pa­tion by mem­bers of the U.S. mil­i­tary in the events in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021. The guide­lines tar­get “advo­cat­ing, engag­ing in, or sup­port­ing” var­i­ous “extrem­ist activ­i­ties,” such as ter­ror­ism or the vio­lent over­throw of the gov­ern­ment. Note that the report also comes at a time when the U.S. Army now employs a “chief diver­si­ty offi­cer” who is “aggres­sive­ly work­ing to elim­i­nate extrem­ism” in the ranks, accord­ing to the U.S. Army News Ser­vice.

    In prin­ci­ple, a pol­i­cy against extrem­ist activ­i­ties by mem­bers of the mil­i­tary is not inher­ent­ly wrong. Indeed, such poli­cies have been on the books for a while and make sense. The dead­liest mass shoot­ing on a mil­i­tary base in U.S. his­to­ry occurred in 2009, when an Army major rad­i­cal­ized by Islamist pro­pa­gan­da attacked fel­low sol­diers at Fort Hood in Texas. Uti­liz­ing intel­li­gence and mil­i­tary police tools to pre­vent attacks like that is appro­pri­ate.

    But the con­text in which these new guide­lines arise is not intra-mil­i­tary vio­lence like Fort Hood but par­tic­i­pa­tion in the events of Jan. 6 by mem­bers of the mil­i­tary. Though what hap­pened a year ago at the U.S. Capi­tol was despi­ca­ble and ille­gal, what hap­pened on the Nation­al Mall that day was legal, a ral­ly in our nation’s pub­lic square enti­tled to the fullest pro­tec­tion of the First Amend­ment to the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion. Too few make that impor­tant dis­tinc­tion, and too many have been pun­ished for par­tic­i­pat­ing in a legit­i­mate protest.

    But Jan. 6 is now claimed as the social­ly accept­able rea­son to tar­get “extrem­ism” and “domes­tic ter­ror­ism” and “hate,” lead­ing to poli­cies like this new one. But those words, like all oth­ers, require def­i­n­i­tion. Words like “extrem­ist” and “hate” are now applied to some Chris­tians in our cul­ture, mere­ly for uphold­ing Bib­li­cal teach­ings. The Defense Department’s new guide­lines apply to activ­i­ties like “Advo­cat­ing wide­spread unlaw­ful dis­crim­i­na­tion based on race, col­or, nation­al ori­gin, reli­gion, sex (includ­ing preg­nan­cy), gen­der iden­ti­ty, or sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion” or “Advo­cat­ing or engag­ing in unlaw­ful force or vio­lence to achieve goals that are polit­i­cal, reli­gious, dis­crim­i­na­to­ry, or ide­o­log­i­cal in nature.”

    Again, it’s nec­es­sary to have vig­i­lant safe­guards in place. Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Fort Hood shoot­er, would have been guilty of engag­ing in vio­lence to achieve reli­gious and ide­o­log­i­cal goals. And though neo-Nazis had a right to march through Skok­ie, Ill., they have no right to wear the nation’s uni­form.

    But con­ser­v­a­tives are right to wor­ry that these new reg­u­la­tions are not a legit­i­mate exer­cise in main­tain­ing morale but rather a stalk­ing horse for an ide­o­log­i­cal agen­da creep­ing into the mil­i­tary. Con­sid­er: In the last few years, the U.S. mil­i­tary has spent $8 mil­lion on hor­mone ther­a­py and surg­eries for trans­gen­der troops.

    The mil­i­tary is increas­ing­ly in tune with the diver­si­ty, equi­ty, and inclu­sion (DEI) agen­da that can be a Tro­jan horse for crit­i­cal race the­o­ry. Again, a mil­i­tary that looks like Amer­i­ca is some­thing to be cel­e­brat­ed in the abstract, as the recent pass­ing of Col­in Pow­ell reminds us. But we can­not under­mine the prop­er patri­o­tism that moti­vates men to fight by attack­ing the nation we ask them to defend.

    And in these days when COVID vac­cine man­dates are front and cen­ter, a fed­er­al judge is very con­cerned that mil­i­tary pol­i­cy­mak­ers are ignor­ing the legit­i­mate exemp­tion requests of ser­vice mem­bers with reli­gious objec­tions.

    ...

    We will have to wait and see how the new guide­lines are enforced. But we should be wary, espe­cial­ly if we start see­ing DEI bureau­crats embed­ded in actu­al units.

    Any­one who has seen the clas­sic movies about the Sovi­et era, such as The Hunt for Red Octo­ber or Ene­my at the Gates, knows that every Russ­ian mil­i­tary unit had a “polit­i­cal offi­cer” whose job was to spread regime pro­pa­gan­da and ensure ide­o­log­i­cal loy­al­ty among the troops, espe­cial­ly oth­er offi­cers.

    Let’s hope we nev­er see a day when “polit­i­cal offi­cers” invade the U.S. mil­i­tary.

    ———

    “The dan­ger of woke war­riors” by Daniel Suhr; World News Group; 01/06/2022

    But Jan. 6 is now claimed as the social­ly accept­able rea­son to tar­get “extrem­ism” and “domes­tic ter­ror­ism” and “hate,” lead­ing to poli­cies like this new one. But those words, like all oth­ers, require def­i­n­i­tion. Words like “extrem­ist” and “hate” are now applied to some Chris­tians in our cul­ture, mere­ly for uphold­ing Bib­li­cal teach­ings. The Defense Department’s new guide­lines apply to activ­i­ties like “Advo­cat­ing wide­spread unlaw­ful dis­crim­i­na­tion based on race, col­or, nation­al ori­gin, reli­gion, sex (includ­ing preg­nan­cy), gen­der iden­ti­ty, or sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion” or “Advo­cat­ing or engag­ing in unlaw­ful force or vio­lence to achieve goals that are polit­i­cal, reli­gious, dis­crim­i­na­to­ry, or ide­o­log­i­cal in nature.””

    The hor­ror of it all. Jan 6 is being used as the social­ly accept­able rea­son to tar­get “extrem­ism” and “domes­tic ter­ror­ism” and “hate”, a moral drag­net that could end up ensnar­ing inno­cent Chris­tians mere­ly fol­low­ing Bib­li­cal teach­ings. Sure, you can tar­get Islam­ic extrem­ists and neo-Nazis. Just be sure to not ensnare any Chris­tians who hap­pen to hold those same extrem­ist beliefs. Because those are pro­tect­ed tra­di­tion­al beliefs, or at least should be pro­tect­ed tra­di­tion­al beliefs. It’s the Project Blitz par­a­digm — of spe­cial pro­tec­tions for con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­tians alone — applied in the con­text of gov­ern­ment anti-extrem­ism actions:

    ...
    Again, it’s nec­es­sary to have vig­i­lant safe­guards in place. Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Fort Hood shoot­er, would have been guilty of engag­ing in vio­lence to achieve reli­gious and ide­o­log­i­cal goals. And though neo-Nazis had a right to march through Skok­ie, Ill., they have no right to wear the nation’s uni­form.

    But con­ser­v­a­tives are right to wor­ry that these new reg­u­la­tions are not a legit­i­mate exer­cise in main­tain­ing morale but rather a stalk­ing horse for an ide­o­log­i­cal agen­da creep­ing into the mil­i­tary. Con­sid­er: In the last few years, the U.S. mil­i­tary has spent $8 mil­lion on hor­mone ther­a­py and surg­eries for trans­gen­der troops.

    The mil­i­tary is increas­ing­ly in tune with the diver­si­ty, equi­ty, and inclu­sion (DEI) agen­da that can be a Tro­jan horse for crit­i­cal race the­o­ry. Again, a mil­i­tary that looks like Amer­i­ca is some­thing to be cel­e­brat­ed in the abstract, as the recent pass­ing of Col­in Pow­ell reminds us. But we can­not under­mine the prop­er patri­o­tism that moti­vates men to fight by attack­ing the nation we ask them to defend.
    ...

    It’s also worth recall­ing the per­son­al his­to­ry of David Bar­ton, who was open­ly affil­i­at­ing with white suprema­cist Chris­t­ian Iden­ti­ty move­ment of Pete Peters’ Scrip­tures for Amer­i­ca in the ear­ly 90s before Bar­ton was embraced by the GOP. It’s an exam­ple of why Suhr’s insis­tence that we dis­tin­guish between the extrem­ist views of a Nazi and a con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­t­ian does­n’t make sense. You can be a con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­t­ian Nazi. Plen­ty of such peo­ple unfor­tu­nate­ly exist. But if we lis­ten to Daniel Suhr, no, we need to carve out a spe­cial excep­tion for Chris­tians when car­ry­ing out anti-extrem­ism inves­ti­ga­tions.

    And don’t for­get: Project Blitz is still going. The dri­ve to con­fer spe­cial pro­tec­tions to Bib­li­cal­ly-based extrem­ism isn’t going away. So just keep in mind that should Rebec­ca Kleefisch end up Wis­con­sin’s next gov­er­nor, extrem­ists will pre­sum­ably be wel­come to join her admin­is­tra­tion, but only as long as they’re also self-pro­fessed Chris­tians. So if you’re an extrem­ist in Wis­con­sin with polit­i­cal ambi­tions, now would be the right time to find a church that shares your extrem­ist beliefs. Specif­i­cal­ly a Chris­t­ian church, so your hate can get its extra God-giv­en con­sti­tu­tion­al pro­tec­tions.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 9, 2022, 7:49 pm
  3. Here’s a set of excerpts that under­score how incred­i­ble main­stream the CNP is with­in con­ser­v­a­tive cir­cles. But also how remark­ably secre­tive the group is about that main­stream influ­ence. The first arti­cle, from Jason Wil­son at the Guardian, was pub­lished in Sep­tem­ber and based on a new­ly leaked list of CNP mem­bers. The arti­cle describes how the group is so secre­tive it not only instructs mem­bers to keep their mem­ber­ship secret but also instructs them to nev­er even name the group. The CNP is like Volde­mort. No one dare speak its name. Which all the more remark­able giv­en how many pow­er­ful and influ­en­tial peo­ple are mem­bers. Peo­ple in pol­i­tics and indus­try.

    But as Hei­di Beirich puts it, “this new CNP list makes clear that the group still serves as a key venue where main­stream con­ser­v­a­tives and extrem­ists mix”, adding that CNP “clear­ly remains a crit­i­cal nexus for main­stream­ing extrem­ism from the far right into con­ser­v­a­tive cir­cles”. And that’s the cru­cial aspect of the CNP’s extreme secre­cy that can’t be lost: the CNP’s extreme secre­cy cov­ers for fact that it acts as a vehi­cle for main­stream­ing right-wing extrem­ism.

    We’re going to get a bet­ter sense of the reach of the CNP inside the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment with the sec­ond arti­cle excerpt, from Octo­ber 2017, when the Her­itage foun­da­tion was search for a replace­ment for then-for­mer pres­i­dent Jim DeMint. Yes, DeMint is a CNP mem­ber. As we’re going to see, of the four peo­ple Her­itage was look­ing at to replace DeMint, three of them were CNP mem­bers. Lisa B. Nel­son, David Trulio, and Kay Coles James. The only non-CNP mem­ber they were report­ed­ly inter­est­ed in at the time was Mike Pence’s then-chief of staff Marc Short. In the end, James got the job.

    But there’s an inter­est­ing twist to all this in the third excerpt below. Her­itage has already select­ed its replace­ment for Kay Coles James as pres­i­dent. Dr. Kevin Roberts, cur­rent the CEO of the Texas Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Foun­da­tion (TPPF). Recall how the TPPF was found to be run­ning the “79 Days report” elec­tion sim­u­la­tions in the final weeks of the 2020 elec­tion in coor­di­na­tion with the Clare­mont Insti­tute. The Clare­mont Insti­tute hap­pens to have John East­man, one of the cen­tral fig­ures in devel­op­ing legal jus­ti­fi­ca­tions for the events that led up to the Jan­u­ary 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion. So Roberts seems like an appro­pri­ate fit for the job. He’s got the rel­e­vant expe­ri­ence in try­ing to over­turn elec­tions.

    Here’s the twist: while Roberts does NOT show up in the most recent­ly leaked list of CNP mem­bers, there’s one place where he is indeed list­ed as a CNP mem­ber. And it’s the kind of place that would appear to vio­late the CNP rules on not acknowl­edg­ing either his mem­ber­ship to the CNP or its very exis­tence: Roberts is list­ed as a CNP mem­ber in a Sep­tem­ber 1, 2021 news post on gov.texas.gov web­site, where Texas gov­er­nor Greg Abbott announced that Roberts was appoint­ed to the Texas 1836 Project Advi­so­ry Com­mit­tee. They spell it out clear­ly in the pro­file:

    Kevin Roberts, Ph.D. of Lib­er­ty Hill is the CEO of the Texas Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Foun­da­tion. Pre­vi­ous­ly, he served as Pres­i­dent of Wyoming Catholic Col­lege in Lan­der, WY, and as founder and head­mas­ter of John Paul the Great Acad­e­my in Lafayette, LA. He is a mem­ber of the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy and the Nation­al Asso­ci­a­tion of Schol­ars. Roberts received a Bach­e­lor of Arts in His­to­ry from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Louisiana, a Mas­ter of Arts in His­to­ry from Vir­ginia Tech, and a Doc­tor of Phi­los­o­phy in Amer­i­can His­to­ry from The Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas at Austin.

    Note that the Texas 1836 Project is just the lat­est right-wing attempt to rewrite his­to­ry. Start­ed in 2021 by Gov­er­nor Abbott, the project aims at pro­mot­ing “patri­ot­ic edu­ca­tion” to Texas res­i­dent, with echos of Pro­ject­Blitz. Roberts is clear­ly tick­ing off all the right wedge issues, and it land­ed him the pres­i­den­cy of the Her­itage Foun­da­tion.

    And yet, what are we to make of the fact that Roberts does­n’t show up in the leaked CNP lists but open­ly touts his mem­bers in his pub­lic Texas pro­file? That’s the weird twist here. Per­haps Roberts is such a new mem­ber his mem­ber­ship has­n’t had a chance to get leaked. But if that’s not the case, you have to won­der if the CNP has decid­ed it’s eas­i­er to just come out of the shad­ows. Being a hyper-secre­tive hyper-pow­er­ful group isn’t exact­ly a great look, after all. Again, it’s a mys­tery.

    Ok, first, here’s a Sept 2021 look at the recent­ly updat­ed leaked list of CNP mem­bers. Mem­bers that stretch across pol­i­tics, the media, and busi­ness. And mem­bers that high­light how the CNP real­ly is an orga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cat­ed allow­ing right-wing extrem­ists to cavort with the ‘main­stream’. Cavort­ing that’s sup­posed to all be done under the strictest secre­cy:

    The Guardian

    Top Repub­li­cans rub shoul­ders with extrem­ists in secre­tive rightwing group, leak reveals

    Wealthy entre­pre­neurs and media moguls also named on mem­ber­ship list for influ­en­tial Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy

    Jason Wil­son
    Thu 30 Sep 2021 13.34 EDT
    First pub­lished on Thu 30 Sep 2021 05.00 EDT

    A leaked doc­u­ment has revealed the mem­ber­ship list of the secre­tive Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy (CNP), show­ing how it pro­vides oppor­tu­ni­ties for elite Repub­li­cans, wealthy entre­pre­neurs, media pro­pri­etors and pil­lars of the US con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment to rub shoul­ders with anti-abor­tion and anti-Islam­ic extrem­ists.

    The South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter (SPLC), which mon­i­tors rightwing hate groups, describes the CNP as “a shad­owy and intense­ly secre­tive group [which] has oper­at­ed behind the scenes” in its efforts to “build the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment”.

    The leaked mem­ber­ship list dates from Sep­tem­ber last year, and reveals the 40-year-old CNP put influ­en­tial Trump admin­is­tra­tion fig­ures along­side lead­ers of orga­ni­za­tions that have been cat­e­go­rized as hate groups.

    The group was found­ed in 1981 by activists influ­en­tial in the Chris­t­ian right, includ­ing Tim LaHaye, Howard Phillips and Paul Weyrich, who had also been involved in found­ing and lead­ing the Moral Major­i­ty. Ini­tial­ly they were seek­ing to max­i­mize their influ­ence on the new Rea­gan admin­is­tra­tion. In sub­se­quent years, CNP meet­ings have played host to pres­i­den­tial aspi­rants like George W Bush in 1999 and Mitt Rom­ney in 2007, and sit­ting pres­i­dents includ­ing Don­ald Trump in 2020.

    In videos obtained by the Wash­ing­ton Post in 2020, the CNP exec­u­tive com­mit­tee chair­man, Bill Wal­ton, told atten­dees of the upcom­ing elec­tion: “This is a spir­i­tu­al bat­tle we are in. This is good ver­sus evil.”

    The CNP is so secre­tive, accord­ing to reports, that its mem­bers are instruct­ed not to reveal their affil­i­a­tion or even name the group.

    Hei­di Beirich, of the Glob­al Project Against Hate and Extrem­ism, said in an email that “this new CNP list makes clear that the group still serves as a key venue where main­stream con­ser­v­a­tives and extrem­ists mix”, adding that CNP “clear­ly remains a crit­i­cal nexus for main­stream­ing extrem­ism from the far right into con­ser­v­a­tive cir­cles”.

    The doc­u­ment – which reveals email address­es and phone num­bers for most mem­bers – shows that the CNP includes mem­bers of SPLC-list­ed hate groups.

    They include lead­ers of orga­ni­za­tions list­ed as anti-Mus­lim hate groups, includ­ing:

    * Frank Gaffney, founder and exec­u­tive chair­man of the Cen­ter for Secu­ri­ty Pol­i­cy (CSP)

    * Brigitte Gabriel, founder and chair­man of Act For Amer­i­ca (AFA)

    They also include sev­er­al founders or lead­ers of groups list­ed as anti-LGBTQ+ hate groups, such as:

    * Michael P Far­ris, pres­i­dent and CEO of the Alliance Defend­ing Free­dom (ADF)

    * Brad Dacus, founder and pres­i­dent of the Pacif­ic Jus­tice Insti­tute

    * Tony Perkins, pres­i­dent of the Fam­i­ly Research Coun­cil

    * Matthew Staver, founder and chair­man of Lib­er­ty Coun­sel

    * Tim Wild­mon, pres­i­dent of the Amer­i­can Fam­i­ly Asso­ci­a­tion

    Also, there are mem­bers of orga­ni­za­tions list­ed as anti-immi­grant hate groups, includ­ing James and Amap­o­la Hans­berg­er, co-founders of Legal Immi­grants For Amer­i­ca (Lifa).

    Addi­tion­al­ly, the list includes mem­bers of groups that have been accused of extrem­ist posi­tions on abor­tion. They include Mar­garet H Hartshorn, chair of the board of Heart­beat Inter­na­tion­al, which has report­ed­ly spread mis­in­for­ma­tion world­wide to preg­nant women.

    Sev­er­al high-pro­file fig­ures asso­ci­at­ed with the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, or con­spir­a­cy-mind­ed char­ac­ters in Trump’s orbit, are also on the list, such as Jerome R Cor­si, who has writ­ten con­spir­a­cy-mind­ed books about John Ker­ry, Barack Oba­ma and the Sep­tem­ber 11 attacks. Cor­si is list­ed as a mem­ber of CNP’s board of gov­er­nors.

    Along with these rep­re­sen­ta­tives of extrem­ist posi­tions, the CNP rolls include mem­bers of osten­si­bly more main­stream con­ser­v­a­tive groups, and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of major Amer­i­can cor­po­ra­tions. Still oth­ers come from the Repub­li­can par­ty, a net­work of rightwing activist orga­ni­za­tions, and the com­pa­nies and foun­da­tions that back them.

    A new­com­er to the group since a pre­vi­ous ver­sion of the mem­ber list was exposed is Char­lie Kirk, founder and pres­i­dent of Turn­ing Point USA (TPUSA), a con­ser­v­a­tive youth orga­ni­za­tion.

    Although TPUSA works hard to make inroads into main­stream cul­ture with stunts and on-cam­pus events, Kirk has recent­ly staked out more hard-right posi­tions, say­ing last week that Demo­c­ra­t­ic immi­gra­tion poli­cies were aimed at “dimin­ish­ing and decreas­ing white demo­graph­ics in Amer­i­ca”, a day after Tuck­er Carl­son ven­ti­lat­ed racist “great replace­ment” con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries on his Fox News pro­gram.

    Con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment heavy­weights in the group include Lisa B Nel­son, chief exec­u­tive of the Amer­i­can Leg­isla­tive Exchange Coun­cil; Eugene May­er, pres­i­dent of the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety; Grover Norquist, pres­i­dent of Amer­i­cans for Tax Reform; Daniel Schnei­der, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Amer­i­can Con­ser­v­a­tive Union, which orga­nizes the CPac con­fer­ence; and L Brent Bozell III, the founder of the Media Research Cen­ter and a mem­ber of the Bozell and Buck­ley dynas­ties of con­ser­v­a­tive activists.

    Oth­er mem­bers include pil­lars of the Repub­li­can polit­i­cal estab­lish­ment, includ­ing for­mer GOP con­gres­sion­al major­i­ty leader Tom DeLay; for­mer Wis­con­sin gov­er­nor Scott Walk­er; Rea­gan admin­is­tra­tion attor­ney gen­er­al Edwin Meese III; and for­mer RNC chair and Trump White House chief of staff Reince Priebus.

    Their num­ber also includes sit­ting con­gress­men such as Bar­ry Lou­d­er­milk and influ­en­tial oper­a­tives like David Trulio, who was the senior advis­er and chief of staff to the under-sec­re­tary of defense in the Trump admin­is­tra­tion.

    The mem­ber list also includes rep­re­sen­ta­tives of major US cor­po­ra­tions, such as Marc Johansen, vice-pres­i­dent for the satel­lites and intel­li­gence pro­gram for Boe­ing; Jef­frey Coors, of the Coors brew­ing fam­i­ly, who have exten­sive­ly spon­sored con­ser­v­a­tive groups; Lee Roy Mitchell, the founder and chair­man of the board for movie chain own­er Cin­e­mark Hold­ings; Steve Forbes, the founder and chief exec­u­tive of the Forbes busi­ness media empire; and Scott Brown, a senior vice-pres­i­dent at Mor­gan Stan­ley.

    Oth­er mem­bers of the group rep­re­sent orga­ni­za­tions that oper­ate under a veil of secre­cy, with con­ser­v­a­tive “dark mon­ey” orga­ni­za­tions well rep­re­sent­ed.

    One mem­ber, Law­son Bad­er, is the pres­i­dent of Donor’s Trust and Donors Cap­i­tal Fund, non­prof­its that dis­guise the iden­ti­ties of their own donors, and whose largesse to rightwing caus­es has earned them the rep­u­ta­tion as “the dark-mon­ey ATM of the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment”.

    Anoth­er mem­ber, Richard Graber, is the pres­i­dent and chief exec­u­tive of the Lyn­de and Har­ry Bradley Foun­da­tion. The Bradley foun­da­tion has long bankrolled con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment caus­es, includ­ing Donors Trust, and has report­ed­ly spon­sored wide­spread efforts to dis­cred­it the elec­tion of Joe Biden in 2020.

    Con­ser­v­a­tive media fig­ures are also on the list: Neil Patel, co-founder and pub­lish­er of the Dai­ly Caller; Lar­ry Beasley, chief exec­u­tive of the rightwing news­pa­per the Wash­ing­ton Times; and Floyd Brown, the founder of the Ari­zona-based West­ern Jour­nal and founder of the Cit­i­zens Unit­ed Pac.

    Pro-gun groups are also rep­re­sent­ed, with NRA chief exec­u­tive Wayne LaPierre and Gun Own­ers of Amer­i­ca founder Tim Macy each list­ed as mem­bers.

    The 220-page doc­u­ment – which includes a state­ment of prin­ci­ples and an indi­ca­tion of mem­bers’ pol­i­cy inter­ests along­side a com­plete mem­ber list – was leaked and pro­vid­ed to jour­nal­ists via a trans­paren­cy orga­ni­za­tion, Dis­trib­uted Denial of Secrets.

    An ear­li­er, redact­ed ver­sion of the list was pub­lished along with report­ing by the Cen­ter for Media and Democ­ra­cy in late 2020. DDOSecret’s pub­li­ca­tion restored per­son­al infor­ma­tion, which allowed fur­ther report­ing and ver­i­fi­ca­tion of the list’s con­tents.

    ...

    ———

    “Top Repub­li­cans rub shoul­ders with extrem­ists in secre­tive rightwing group, leak reveals” by Jason Wil­son; The Guardian; 09/30/2021

    “The CNP is so secre­tive, accord­ing to reports, that its mem­bers are instruct­ed not to reveal their affil­i­a­tion or even name the group.”

    Not only can mem­bers not reveal their affil­i­a­tion, they can’t even name the group. It’s hard to get more secre­tive than that. Under­stand­able secre­cy when we learn that one of the pri­ma­ry func­tions of the CNP has to act as a nexus for the main­stream­ing extrem­ism from the far right into the main­stream con­ser­v­a­tive mix. It’s why we should­n’t be at all sur­prised to see names like Jerome Cor­si
    on the CNP list. Recall how Cor­si joined Alex Jone’s InfoWars pro­gram in 2017, act­ing as the head of the InfoWars DC bureau, although his ties to Jones frayed and even­tu­al­ly descend­ed into Cor­si suing Jones over defama­tion of char­ac­ter. Palling around with Alex Jones. These are the kinds of things CNP mem­bers have been up to:

    ...
    Hei­di Beirich, of the Glob­al Project Against Hate and Extrem­ism, said in an email that this new CNP list makes clear that the group still serves as a key venue where main­stream con­ser­v­a­tives and extrem­ists mix”, adding that CNP “clear­ly remains a crit­i­cal nexus for main­stream­ing extrem­ism from the far right into con­ser­v­a­tive cir­cles”.

    The doc­u­ment – which reveals email address­es and phone num­bers for most mem­bers – shows that the CNP includes mem­bers of SPLC-list­ed hate groups.

    ...

    Sev­er­al high-pro­file fig­ures asso­ci­at­ed with the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, or con­spir­a­cy-mind­ed char­ac­ters in Trump’s orbit, are also on the list, such as Jerome R Cor­si, who has writ­ten con­spir­a­cy-mind­ed books about John Ker­ry, Barack Oba­ma and the Sep­tem­ber 11 attacks. Cor­si is list­ed as a mem­ber of CNP’s board of gov­er­nors.
    ...

    And inter­min­gled with the extrem­ists are the high-pro­file con­ser­v­a­tive fig­ures, like Lisa Nel­son of ALEC or Grover Norquist. Recall how Nel­son report­ed­ly informed the CNP in Feb­ru­ary of 2020 that ALEC was work­ing with Repub­li­can lawyers to strate­gize paths for win­ning the elec­tion by con­test­ing the valid­i­ty of the elec­tion. The CNP is the con­ser­v­a­tive main­stream. A super-secret main­stream:

    ...

    Con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment heavy­weights in the group include Lisa B Nel­son, chief exec­u­tive of the Amer­i­can Leg­isla­tive Exchange Coun­cil; Eugene May­er, pres­i­dent of the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety; Grover Norquist, pres­i­dent of Amer­i­cans for Tax Reform; Daniel Schnei­der, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Amer­i­can Con­ser­v­a­tive Union, which orga­nizes the CPac con­fer­ence; and L Brent Bozell III, the founder of the Media Research Cen­ter and a mem­ber of the Bozell and Buck­ley dynas­ties of con­ser­v­a­tive activists.

    ...

    Their num­ber also includes sit­ting con­gress­men such as Bar­ry Lou­d­er­milk and influ­en­tial oper­a­tives like David Trulio, who was the senior advis­er and chief of staff to the under-sec­re­tary of defense in the Trump admin­is­tra­tion.
    ...

    And when we see for­mer Wis­con­sin gov­ern­ment Scott Walk­er, it’s worth not­ing that fel­low Wis­con­si­nite CNP-mem­ber Dani­uel Suhr also has ties to Walk­er. Recall how Suhr has served as the chief of staff to for­mer Wis­con­sin Lt Gov­ern­ment Rebec­ca Kleefisch. Suhr then decid­ed to pub­lish an opin­ion piece in WORLD this Jan­u­ary 6 warn­ing about the inves­ti­ga­tion into the insur­rec­tion and a ‘woke mil­i­tary’ lead­ing to the per­se­cu­tion of Chris­tians in the mil­i­tary who may hold views now deemed to be extrem­ist. Well, it also turns out that Scott Walk­er made Suhr his Pol­i­cy Direc­tor in Jan of 2018. Inter­est­ing­ly, War­ren C. Smith, the asso­ciate pub­lish­er of WORLD, is also a CNP mem­ber. This is what secret net­work­ing looks like:

    ...
    Oth­er mem­bers include pil­lars of the Repub­li­can polit­i­cal estab­lish­ment, includ­ing for­mer GOP con­gres­sion­al major­i­ty leader Tom DeLay; for­mer Wis­con­sin gov­er­nor Scott Walk­er; Rea­gan admin­is­tra­tion attor­ney gen­er­al Edwin Meese III; and for­mer RNC chair and Trump White House chief of staff Reince Priebus.
    ...

    The cor­po­rate exec­u­tives on the CNP are also quite notable. Marc Johansen, vice-pres­i­dent for the satel­lites and intel­li­gence pro­gram for Boe­ing. There’s Steve Forbes. And then there’s Jef­frey Coors of the Coors fam­i­ly dynasty, one of the most impor­tant fam­i­lies in fund­ing the con­tem­po­rary US con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment. And this is just a sam­ple of the pow­er­ful peo­ple in the world of busi­ness:

    ...
    The mem­ber list also includes rep­re­sen­ta­tives of major US cor­po­ra­tions, such as Marc Johansen, vice-pres­i­dent for the satel­lites and intel­li­gence pro­gram for Boe­ing; Jef­frey Coors, of the Coors brew­ing fam­i­ly, who have exten­sive­ly spon­sored con­ser­v­a­tive groups; Lee Roy Mitchell, the founder and chair­man of the board for movie chain own­er Cin­e­mark Hold­ings; Steve Forbes, the founder and chief exec­u­tive of the Forbes busi­ness media empire; and Scott Brown, a senior vice-pres­i­dent at Mor­gan Stan­ley.
    ...

    As anoth­er exam­ple of how deeply inter­twined the CNP is with the Koch net­work of GOP mega-donors, we we find Law­son Bad­er, the pres­i­dent of Donor’s Trust and Donors Cap­i­tal Fund, the most impor­tant right-wing Dark Mon­ey group oper­at­ing today. And then we find Richard Graber, the pres­i­dent and chief exec­u­tive of the Lyn­de and Har­ry Bradley Foun­da­tion. Recall that Repub­li­can lawyer Cle­ta Mitchell — who began strate­giz­ing in prepa­ra­tion for ques­tion­ing elec­tion results as ear­ly as August 2019sits on the board of direc­tors of the Bradley Foun­da­tion. Mitchell has been at the cen­ter of the con­ser­v­a­tive estab­lish­men­t’s efforts to over­turn the 2020 elec­tion:

    ...
    Oth­er mem­bers of the group rep­re­sent orga­ni­za­tions that oper­ate under a veil of secre­cy, with con­ser­v­a­tive “dark mon­ey” orga­ni­za­tions well rep­re­sent­ed.

    One mem­ber, Law­son Bad­er, is the pres­i­dent of Donor’s Trust and Donors Cap­i­tal Fund, non­prof­its that dis­guise the iden­ti­ties of their own donors, and whose largesse to rightwing caus­es has earned them the rep­u­ta­tion as “the dark-mon­ey ATM of the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment”.

    Anoth­er mem­ber, Richard Graber, is the pres­i­dent and chief exec­u­tive of the Lyn­de and Har­ry Bradley Foun­da­tion. The Bradley foun­da­tion has long bankrolled con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment caus­es, includ­ing Donors Trust, and has report­ed­ly spon­sored wide­spread efforts to dis­cred­it the elec­tion of Joe Biden in 2020.

    ...

    Pro-gun groups are also rep­re­sent­ed, with NRA chief exec­u­tive Wayne LaPierre and Gun Own­ers of Amer­i­ca founder Tim Macy each list­ed as mem­bers.
    ...

    You almost can’t get more main­stream inside the GOP than the CNP. It’s like almost any­body who’s any­body in the move­ment is a CNP mem­ber. To illus­trate the point, here’s an Octo­ber 2017 piece in the Wash­ing­ton Post about the spec­u­la­tion over whether or not Marc Short — then Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence’s chief of staff — was going to leave the Trump admin­is­tra­tion and take a job as the next head of the Her­itage Foun­da­tion. As we saw, Short did NOT end up tak­ing the job and stuck with Mike Pence until the end...hence the poten­tial inter­est by House Jan 6 Insur­rec­tion inves­ti­ga­tors in talk­ing to Short.

    Notably, Short does­n’t appear to show up on any CNP mem­ber­ship lists. Part of what makes that notable is look­ing at all the oth­er peo­ple who were on the Her­itage wish list for the job at the time. Vir­tu­al­ly all of them are known CNP mem­bers: Lisa B. Nel­son, David Trulio, and Kay Coles James. All three show up on the CNP mem­ber­ship list. And that’s to replace the then-for­mer head of Her­itage, Jim DeMint, anoth­er CNP mem­ber.

    The arti­cle men­tions some oth­er CNP mem­bers who also affil­i­at­ed with Her­itage. CNP Mem­ber Steve Forbes also sits on the Her­itage board. And Kay Coles James was, at the time, already a Her­itage board mem­ber and close to Her­itage founder Edwin J. Feul­ner. Yes, Feul­ner is a CNP mem­ber too. Because of course he is.

    So who ulti­mate­ly got the job? Kay Coles James. The CNP got to keep its hands on the Her­itage pres­i­den­cy, solid­i­fy­ing its secret grip on the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    Her­itage Foun­da­tion con­sid­ers top White House aide, Cubs co-own­er as next leader

    By Robert Cos­ta, Ash­ley Park­er and John Wag­n­er
    Octo­ber 17, 2017

    The Her­itage Foun­da­tion has nar­rowed its search for a new pres­i­dent down to a short­list of final­ists, a group that includes Todd Rick­etts, a co-own­er of the Chica­go Cubs, and Marc Short, a senior Trump White House offi­cial, accord­ing to three peo­ple famil­iar with the dis­cus­sions.

    In addi­tion to Rick­etts and Short, Heritage’s board of trustees also has expressed inter­est in Lisa B. Nel­son, the chief exec­u­tive of the Amer­i­can Leg­isla­tive Exchange Coun­cil, and David Trulio, a vice pres­i­dent at Lock­heed Mar­tin, the peo­ple said on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty to dis­cuss pri­vate delib­er­a­tions.

    The con­ser­v­a­tive think tank’s trustees, how­ev­er, remain torn over their deci­sion. Kay Coles James — a Her­itage board mem­ber who served as the direc­tor of the U.S. Office of Per­son­nel Man­age­ment under Pres­i­dent George W. Bush and is close to Her­itage founder Edwin J. Feul­ner — has been men­tioned by sev­er­al asso­ciates as some­one who could serve in a tem­po­rary capac­i­ty if the board can­not set­tle on a can­di­date.

    The group’s clout in Wash­ing­ton was under­scored by Pres­i­dent Trump’s appear­ance Tues­day night at a gath­er­ing of its President’s Club at a Wash­ing­ton hotel.

    Her­itage’s board includes many wealthy right-wing fig­ures, includ­ing Steve Forbes, Rebekah A. Mer­cer and Thomas A. Saun­ders III.

    The top job at the influ­en­tial con­ser­v­a­tive out­post has been open since May, when Jim DeMint, the Repub­li­can fire­brand and for­mer South Car­oli­na sen­a­tor, was pushed out, although Fuel­ner has been serv­ing as the inter­im pres­i­dent. The search process is still in flux, and it is not clear whether the lead­ing can­di­dates under con­sid­er­a­tion have for­mal­ly been con­tact­ed by the Her­itage board — or would accept the posi­tion.

    For Rick­etts — a long­time Repub­li­can activist whose father, Joe, is the founder of TD Amer­i­trade and broth­er is Pete Rick­etts, the cur­rent Nebras­ka gov­er­nor — the post­ing would offer him and his fam­i­ly even greater influ­ence in help­ing to shape the direc­tion of the Repub­li­can Par­ty and the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment.

    Trump select­ed Rick­etts to serve as deputy com­merce sec­re­tary, but in April he with­drew his nom­i­na­tion from con­sid­er­a­tion, cit­ing an inabil­i­ty to untan­gle his finan­cial hold­ings to the sat­is­fac­tion of the Office of Gov­ern­ment Ethics.

    Rick­etts’s father helped finance Future45, a super PAC that spent lav­ish­ly for Trump in the final weeks of the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, giv­ing the group at least $1 mil­lion through the end of Sep­tem­ber, Fed­er­al Elec­tion Com­mis­sion fil­ings show. Joe Rick­etts and his wife, Mar­lene, also con­tributed near­ly $344,000 to sup­port Trump’s cam­paign and the Repub­li­can Par­ty. The Rick­ettses’ finan­cial sup­port for Trump was a dra­mat­ic rever­sal from the pri­maries, when Joe and Mar­lene Rick­etts gave more than $5.5 mil­lion to Our Prin­ci­ples PAC, a super PAC that ran a slew of hard-hit­ting ads against Trump.

    Short, the direc­tor of leg­isla­tive affairs at the White House, has strong con­ser­v­a­tive cre­den­tials, pre­vi­ous­ly lead­ing Free­dom Part­ners, the polit­i­cal oper­a­tion for bil­lion­aire broth­ers Charles and David Koch, and before that work­ing for Vice Pres­i­dent Pence when Pence was a ris­ing star on the right dur­ing his days in the U.S. House.

    ...

    ———–

    “Her­itage Foun­da­tion con­sid­ers top White House aide, Cubs co-own­er as next leader” by Robert Cos­ta, Ash­ley Park­er and John Wag­n­er; The Wash­ing­ton Post; 10/17/2017

    “The top job at the influ­en­tial con­ser­v­a­tive out­post has been open since May, when Jim DeMint, the Repub­li­can fire­brand and for­mer South Car­oli­na sen­a­tor, was pushed out, although Fuel­ner has been serv­ing as the inter­im pres­i­dent. The search process is still in flux, and it is not clear whether the lead­ing can­di­dates under con­sid­er­a­tion have for­mal­ly been con­tact­ed by the Her­itage board — or would accept the posi­tion.”

    CNP mem­ber Jim DeMint was out as Her­itage’s pres­i­dent and they need­ed a replace­ment. Marc Short was one option, along with CNP mem­bers Lisa B. Nel­son, David Trulio, and Kay Coles James, who ulti­mate­ly got the job. Who knows whether or not fel­low CNP mem­bers Ed Feul­ner and Steve Forbes used their influ­ence to secure her the job. But the fact that all of the can­di­dates, oth­er than Marc Short, for this pow­er­ful posi­tion inside the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment were CNP mem­bers tells us some­thing about the lev­el of influ­ence the CNP wields. It’s like the ulti­mate club of DC power­bro­kers:

    ...
    In addi­tion to Rick­etts and Short, Heritage’s board of trustees also has expressed inter­est in Lisa B. Nel­son, the chief exec­u­tive of the Amer­i­can Leg­isla­tive Exchange Coun­cil, and David Trulio, a vice pres­i­dent at Lock­heed Mar­tin, the peo­ple said on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty to dis­cuss pri­vate delib­er­a­tions.

    The con­ser­v­a­tive think tank’s trustees, how­ev­er, remain torn over their deci­sion. Kay Coles James — a Her­itage board mem­ber who served as the direc­tor of the U.S. Office of Per­son­nel Man­age­ment under Pres­i­dent George W. Bush and is close to Her­itage founder Edwin J. Feul­ner — has been men­tioned by sev­er­al asso­ciates as some­one who could serve in a tem­po­rary capac­i­ty if the board can­not set­tle on a can­di­date.

    The group’s clout in Wash­ing­ton was under­scored by Pres­i­dent Trump’s appear­ance Tues­day night at a gath­er­ing of its President’s Club at a Wash­ing­ton hotel.

    Her­itage’s board includes many wealthy right-wing fig­ures, includ­ing Steve Forbes, Rebekah A. Mer­cer and Thomas A. Saun­ders III.
    ...

    And, in the end, Kay Coles James got the job. But her term is almost up and that job went to Dr. Kevin Roberts back in Octo­ber. The same Kevin Roberts who was pub­licly out­ing him­self as a CNP mem­ber just a month ear­li­er when he got appoint­ed to Abbot­t’s 1836 project:

    Office of the Texas Gov­er­nor

    Gov­er­nor Abbott Appoints Three to Texas 1836 Project Advi­so­ry Com­mit­tee

    Sep­tem­ber 1, 2021 | Austin, Texas

    Gov­er­nor Greg Abbott has appoint­ed Car­oli­na Castil­lo Crimm, Ph.D., Don Fra­zier, Ph.D., and Kevin Roberts, Ph.D., who will serve as pre­sid­ing offi­cer, to the Texas 1836 Project Advi­so­ry Com­mit­tee for terms set to expire on Sep­tem­ber 1, 2023. The Texas 1836 Project Advi­so­ry Com­mit­tee was estab­lished by HB 2497 (87R) to pro­mote patri­ot­ic edu­ca­tion and increase aware­ness of the Texas val­ues that con­tin­ue to stim­u­late bound­less pros­per­i­ty across this state.

    Car­oli­na Castil­lo Crimm, Ph.D. of Huntsville retired as Pro­fes­sor Emer­i­tus at Sam Hous­ton State Uni­ver­si­ty. She has over 30 years of expe­ri­ence in teach­ing, busi­ness, and gov­ern­ment. She has taught at ele­men­tary and high school lev­els in Flori­da and Texas and at col­lege and uni­ver­si­ty lev­els. She is a mem­ber of the Texas State His­tor­i­cal Asso­ci­a­tion, past mem­ber of Human­i­ties Texas, board mem­ber of the Walk­er Coun­ty His­tor­i­cal Com­mis­sion, Main Street Com­mis­sion, Cen­tral Texas His­tor­i­cal Asso­ci­a­tion, and the East Texas His­tor­i­cal Asso­ci­a­tion. Addi­tion­al­ly, she is a mem­ber of the League of Latin Amer­i­can Cit­i­zens, Daugh­ters of the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion, and a board mem­ber of the Old Town The­ater in Huntsville. Crimm received a Bach­e­lor of Arts in His­to­ry and Social Stud­ies from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mia­mi, a Mas­ter of Arts in Archi­tec­ture Preser­va­tion from Texas Tech Uni­ver­si­ty, and a Doc­tor of Phi­los­o­phy in Latin Amer­i­can His­to­ry from The Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas at Austin.

    Don Fra­zier, Ph.D. of Ker­rville is the Direc­tor of The Texas Cen­ter at Schrein­er Uni­ver­si­ty, and pre­vi­ous­ly was a Pro­fes­sor at McMur­ry Uni­ver­si­ty in Abi­lene for over 25 years. He is an elect­ed mem­ber of Philo­soph­i­cal Soci­ety of Texas, scholar/director of the Texas His­tor­i­cal Foun­da­tion, and a for­mer mem­ber of the Texas State His­tor­i­cal Asso­ci­a­tion. Addi­tion­al­ly, he is a board mem­ber of the Heart of the Hills Her­itage Cen­ter and is an advi­sor to The Alamo His­tor­i­cal Advi­so­ry Com­mit­tee. Fra­zier received a Bach­e­lor of Arts in Com­mu­ni­ca­tion from The Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas at Arling­ton and a Mas­ter of Arts and a Doc­tor of Phi­los­o­phy in His­to­ry from Texas Chris­t­ian Uni­ver­si­ty.

    Kevin Roberts, Ph.D. of Lib­er­ty Hill is the CEO of the Texas Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Foun­da­tion. Pre­vi­ous­ly, he served as Pres­i­dent of Wyoming Catholic Col­lege in Lan­der, WY, and as founder and head­mas­ter of John Paul the Great Acad­e­my in Lafayette, LA. He is a mem­ber of the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy and the Nation­al Asso­ci­a­tion of Schol­ars. Roberts received a Bach­e­lor of Arts in His­to­ry from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Louisiana, a Mas­ter of Arts in His­to­ry from Vir­ginia Tech, and a Doc­tor of Phi­los­o­phy in Amer­i­can His­to­ry from The Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas at Austin.

    ———-

    “Gov­er­nor Abbott Appoints Three to Texas 1836 Project Advi­so­ry Com­mit­tee”; Office of the Texas Gov­er­nor; 09/01/2021

    Roberts could­n’t be any more clear. He is a mem­ber of the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy. There it is.

    Was Robert­s’s mem­ber­ship admis­sion a mis­take by a CNP-new­bie? Or a sign of things to come? We’ll get our answer even­tu­al­ly. An answer that is either deliv­ered in the form of hun­dreds of pub­lic mem­ber­ship admis­sions by many of the most pow­er­ful peo­ple in the US. Or ongo­ing Volde­mort-ing silence.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 12, 2022, 12:22 am
  4. Rolling Stone mag­a­zine has a new piece high­light­ing the con­ser­v­a­tive mega-donor net­works’ financ­ing the Clare­mont Insti­tute. As we’ve seen, the Clare­mont Insti­tute has become one of the key right-wing enti­ties involved with the schem­ing focused on over­turn­ing the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion results. In par­tic­u­lar, the key role played by con­sti­tu­tion­al lawyer John East­man in devel­op­ing the legal jus­ti­fi­ca­tions for the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s attempts to over­turn the 2020 elec­tion results.

    Recall how it was East­man who met with the Trump team in the days before the Jan­u­ary 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion, advo­cat­ing a plan where Mike Pence would uni­lat­er­al­ly assert the pow­er to reject the elec­toral vote, throw­ing the issue to the Supreme Court in the hopes of ulti­mate­ly hav­ing the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives choose the next pres­i­dent under a one-state-one-vote process. As we’ve seen, East­man has been ful­ly wel­comed back into con­ser­v­a­tive polite soci­ety and was event sched­ule to appear at a Clare­mont Insti­tute “Elec­tion Integri­ty and the Future of Amer­i­can Repub­li­can Gov­ern­ment” event last year. East­man actu­al­ly gave mul­ti­ple options for over­turn­ing the elec­tion, includ­ing one sce­nario where Pence reject­ed con­test­ed states entire­ly and award­ed Trump the pres­i­den­cy based on win­ning a major­i­ty of the remain­ing uncon­test­ed states.

    Dur­ing the insur­rec­tion, East­man was there at Steve Ban­non’s and Rudy Giu­lian­i’s “war room” at the Willard Hotel. And Ban­non was­n’t the only known CNP mem­ber in that “war room”. CNP mem­bers Rus­sell J. Ram­s­land Jr. and J. Keet Lewis were also there. Also recall how it was the evening of Jan 5 when the Trump team learned that Mike Pence was unwill­ing to go along with any plans of reject­ing the elec­toral vote, mean­ing the plan­ning that took place in the “war room” that evening was like­ly plan­ning that includ­ed talk of using a mob of sup­port­ers to just open­ly block the vote by raid­ing the Capi­tol.

    The sto­ry about the role John East­man played in schem­ing to over­turn the elec­tion does­n’t end on Jan 6. Recall how the con­ser­v­a­tive move­men­t’s ongo­ing defense of East­man’s actions include an attempt by the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety to pre­vent a Stan­ford law stu­dent from grad­u­at­ing after the stu­dent made joke fly­ers that made light of the many Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety mem­bers who con­tin­ue to sup­port the ‘stolen elec­tion’ Big Lie, includ­ing East­man.

    But the sto­ry of East­man’s role in under­min­ing US elec­tions did­n’t start with the 2020 elec­tion either. This is a long-stand­ing project. Recall how the Clare­mont Insti­tute and ALEC held a work­shop in 2017 where East­man argued that the pow­er of the states had been erod­ed with the direct pop­u­lar elec­tion of Sen­a­tors and advo­cat­ed for the repeal of the 17th Amend­ment. Yep, the guy thinks the direct elec­tion of Sen­a­tors is appar­ent­ly too pop­ulist. As expect. Don’t for­get that the repeal of the 17th Amend­ment is on the Koch mega-donor net­work’s con­sti­tu­tion­al over­haul wish list.

    So that’s all part of the con­text of how the sup­port for the Clare­mont Insti­tute became a top­i­cal issue. An enti­ty pre­vi­ous­ly asso­ci­at­ed with bland con­ser­v­a­tive pol­i­tics is at the heart of a coup plot. A coup plot that’s arguably ongo­ing.

    And as we’re going to see, while the Rolling Stone arti­cle does­n’t men­tion the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy (CNP), it’s filled with ref­er­ences to CNP mem­bers. Because of course it is. That’s the nature of the CNP. It’s like the con­ser­v­a­tive move­men­t’s fas­cist meta-lob­by. And that’s why why we should­n’t be at all sur­prised to learn that the Clare­mont Insti­tute has long been financed by three of the biggest names in con­ser­v­a­tive pol­i­tics: The DeVos­es, Scaifes, and Bradleys. All con­ser­v­a­tive mega-donors. And all fam­i­lies with long-stand­ing Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy con­nec­tion:

    * The now-deceased Richard Mel­lon Scaife shows up on the CNP mem­ber­ship list.

    * As we’ve seen, a num­ber of The Bradley Foun­da­tion board mem­bers have CNP ties. Richard Graber, the pres­i­dent and CEO of the foun­da­tion, is a CNP mem­ber. Bradley Foun­da­tion board board mem­ber Cle­ta Mitchell is also a CNP mem­ber. Recall how Mitchell has played a cen­tral role in orches­trat­ing the con­ser­v­a­tive efforts to not just over­turn the 2020 elec­tion results but gen­er­al­ly under­mine vot­er pro­tec­tions. Ongo­ing efforts to under­mine vot­er pro­tec­tions.

    * Dick DeVos, Father-in-law of Bet­sy DeVos, , was the pres­i­dent of the CNP from 1986–88 and 1990–93. Richard’s wife, Helen DeVos, was also a mem­ber.

    It turns out those three fam­i­lies have been giv­ing heav­i­ly to the Clare­mont Insti­tute in recent years and those dona­tions only appear to be grow­ing. The Clare­mont Institute’s tax fil­ings show that its rev­enue rose from 2019 to 2020 by a half-mil­lion dol­lars to $6.2 mil­lion, one of the high­est sums since the orga­ni­za­tion was found­ed in 1979. Rev­enue for the 2021 fis­cal year had increased to $7.5 mil­lion accord­ing to recent esti­mates. The donors clear­ly approve of the insti­tute’s pro-insur­rec­tion work.

    But it’s also worth not­ing the oth­er known CNP mem­bers with ties to the Clare­mont Insti­tute:

    * Dr. Lar­ry P. Arnn — the Pres­i­dent of Hills­dale Col­lege, Her­itage Foun­da­tion trustee, and co-founder of the Clare­mont Insti­tute — is on the CNP mem­ber­ship list.

    * Dou­glas A. Jef­frey — VP for Exter­nal Affairs and Hills­dale Col­lege, and for­mer exec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent of the Clare­mont Insti­tuteis also on the CNP mem­ber­ship list.

    * Elsa Prince — moth­er of Bet­sy DeVos and Erik Prince — is anoth­er CNP mem­ber. It’s worth not­ing that Elsa also sits on the board of the Acton Insti­tute, which was also heav­i­ly patron­ized by the DeVos fam­i­ly and named for ultra-right­ist Lord Acton, a cel­e­brat­ed his­to­ri­an on the right who felt the wrong side won the US civ­il war. Recall how the Acton Insti­tute pub­lished an essay in the weeks fol­low­ing Don­ald Trump’s 2016 elec­tion vic­to­ry call­ing for the relax­ation of child-labor laws. It was par­tic­u­lar­ly notable at the time due to the fact that Bet­sy DeVos sat on the Acton Insti­tute’s board for a decade and was poised to join the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. Also recall how the Acton Insti­tute has been work­ing with Steve Ban­non — anoth­er CNP mem­berin attempt­ing to open a “glad­i­a­tor school for cul­ture war­riors” in Italy.

    The Rolling Stone arti­cle men­tions a cou­ple of the more con­tro­ver­sial new Clare­mont Insti­tute mem­bers in recent years: ‘Alt Right’ per­son­al­i­ty Jack Poso­biec and Char­lie Kirk of Turn­ing Point USA. Kirk is a CNP mem­ber.

    So while the fol­low­ing arti­cle is focused on the impor­tant role these mega-donor fam­i­ly foun­da­tions are play­ing in the financ­ing of one of the key insti­tu­tions con­tin­u­ing to threat­en what’s left of the US’s democ­ra­cy, it’s impor­tant to keep in mind that any sto­ry about the Clare­mont Insti­tute is also just a sub­chap­ter in the larg­er sto­ry of the CNP’s decades-long push to sub­vert Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy:

    The Rolling Stone

    Revealed: The Bil­lion­aires Fund­ing the Coup’s Brain Trust

    Con­ser­v­a­tive mega-donors includ­ing the DeVos­es and Bradleys are pump­ing big mon­ey into the Clare­mont Insti­tute think tank that fueled Trump’s elec­tion-fraud fan­tasies

    By Andy Kroll
    Jan­u­ary 12, 2022 11:58AM ET

    The Clare­mont Insti­tute, once a lit­tle-known think tank often con­fused with the lib­er­al-arts col­lege of the same name, has emerged as a dri­ving force in the con­ser­v­a­tive movement’s cru­sade to use bogus fraud claims about the 2020 elec­tion to rewrite vot­ing laws and remake the elec­tion sys­tem in time for the 2022 midterms and 2024 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Most infa­mous­ly, one of the group’s legal schol­ars craft­ed mem­os out­lin­ing a plan for how then-Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence could poten­tial­ly over­turn the last elec­tion.

    Con­ser­v­a­tive mega-donors like what they see.

    The biggest right-wing megadonors in Amer­i­ca made major con­tri­bu­tions to Clare­mont in 2020 and 2021, accord­ing to foun­da­tion finan­cial records obtained by Rolling Stone. The high-pro­file donors include sev­er­al of the most influ­en­tial fam­i­lies who fund con­ser­v­a­tive pol­i­tics and pol­i­cy: the DeVos­es of West Michi­gan, the Bradleys of Mil­wau­kee, and the Scaifes of Pitts­burgh.

    The Dick and Bet­sy DeVos Foun­da­tion donat­ed $240,000 to Clare­mont in 2020 and approved anoth­er $400,000 to be paid out in the future, tax records show. The Bradley Foun­da­tion donat­ed $100,000 to Clare­mont in 2020 and anoth­er $100,000 in 2021, accord­ing to tax records and a spokes­woman for the group. The Sarah Scaife Foun­da­tion, one of sev­er­al char­i­ties tied to the late right-wing bil­lion­aire Richard Mel­lon Scaife, sup­plied anoth­er $450,000 to Clare­mont in 2020, accord­ing to its lat­est tax fil­ings.

    Claremont’s own tax fil­ings show that its rev­enue rose from 2019 to 2020 by a half-mil­lion dol­lars to $6.2 mil­lion, one of the high­est sums since the orga­ni­za­tion was found­ed in 1979, accord­ing to the most recent avail­able data. A Clare­mont spokesman said the group wouldn’t com­ment about its donors beyond pub­licly avail­able data but esti­mat­ed that Claremont’s rev­enue for the 2021 fis­cal year had increased to $7.5 mil­lion.

    The DeVos­es, Bradleys, and Scaifes are among the most promi­nent donor fam­i­lies in con­ser­v­a­tive pol­i­tics. For Bradley and Scaife, the giv­ing to Clare­mont tracks with a long his­to­ry of fund­ing right-wing caus­es and advo­ca­cy groups, from the Amer­i­can Enter­prise Insti­tute think tank and the “bill mill” Amer­i­can Leg­isla­tive Exchange Coun­cil, to anti-immi­gra­tion zealot David Horowitz’s Free­dom Cen­ter and the cli­mate-deny­ing Heart­land Insti­tute.

    Bradley in par­tic­u­lar has giv­en heav­i­ly to groups that traf­fic in mis­lead­ing or base­less claims about “elec­tion integri­ty” or wide­spread “vot­er fraud.” Thanks to a $6.5 mil­lion infu­sion from the Bradley Impact Fund, a relat­ed non­prof­it, the under­cov­er-sting group Project Ver­i­tas near­ly dou­bled its rev­enue in 2020 to $22 mil­lion, accord­ing to the group’s tax fil­ing. Bradley is also a long-time fun­der of the Her­itage Foun­da­tion, which helped archi­tect the wave of vot­er sup­pres­sion bills intro­duced in state leg­is­la­tures this year, and True the Vote, a con­ser­v­a­tive group that trains poll watch­ers and stokes fears of ram­pant vot­er fraud in the past.

    The Bradley Foun­da­tion was found­ed in 1942 by the Bradley fam­i­ly. Broth­ers Har­ry and Lyn­de Bradley co-found­ed the Allen-Bradley com­pa­ny, which would lat­er pro­vide much of the fund­ing for the Bradley Foun­da­tion. The non­prof­it, which has giv­en out more than $1 bil­lion in its his­to­ry, no longer has any Bradley fam­i­ly mem­bers on its board.

    But while the Bradley dona­tions are to be expect­ed, the con­tri­bu­tions from the Dick and Bet­sy DeVos Foun­da­tion to Clare­mont are per­haps more sur­pris­ing. Bet­sy DeVos, in one of her final acts as Trump’s edu­ca­tion sec­re­tary, con­demned the “angry mob” on Jan­u­ary 6 and said “the law must be upheld and the work of the peo­ple must go on.”

    A spokesman for the DeVos­es, Nick Was­miller, said Bet­sy DeVos’s let­ter “speaks for itself.” He added: “Clare­mont does work in many areas. It would be base­less to assert the Foundation’s sup­port has any con­nec­tion to the one item you cite.” While the foundation’s 2020 tax fil­ing said its grants to Clare­mont were unre­strict­ed, Was­miller said the fil­ing was wrong and the mon­ey had been ear­marked. How­ev­er, he declined to say what it was ear­marked for.

    The dona­tions flow­ing into Clare­mont illus­trate that although the group’s full-throat­ed sup­port for Trump and fix­a­tion on elec­tion crimes may be extreme, they’re not fringe views when they have the back­ing of influ­en­tial con­ser­v­a­tive fun­ders. “Were it not for the patron­age of bil­lion­aire con­ser­v­a­tives and their fam­i­ly foun­da­tions, the Clare­mont Insti­tute would like­ly be rel­e­gat­ed to scream­ing about its anti-gov­ern­ment agen­da on the street cor­ner,” says Kyle Her­rig, pres­i­dent of gov­ern­ment watch­dog group Accountable.US.

    The Clare­mont spokesman respond­ed to Herrig’s com­ment by say­ing “We think the dark mon­ey behind Accountable.US, under left-wing umbrel­la groups like Ara­bel­la Advi­sors, are threats to democ­ra­cy and West­ern civ­i­liza­tion. We defer to Herrig’s exper­tise on street cor­ners.”

    The Clare­mont Institute’s mis­sion, as its pres­i­dent, Ryan Williams, recent­ly put it, is to “save West­ern civ­i­liza­tion.” Since the 2016 pres­i­den­tial race, Clare­mont tried to give an intel­lec­tu­al veneer to the frothy mix of nativism and iso­la­tion­ism rep­re­sent­ed by can­di­date Don­ald Trump. The think tank was per­haps best known for its mag­a­zine, the Clare­mont Review of Books, and on the eve of the ’16 elec­tion, the Review pub­lished an essay called “The Flight 93 Elec­tion,” com­par­ing the choice fac­ing Repub­li­can vot­ers to that of the pas­sen­gers who ulti­mate­ly chose to bring down the fourth plane on Sep­tem­ber 11th. If con­ser­v­a­tives didn’t rush the prover­bial cock­pit, the author, iden­ti­fied by the pen name Pub­lius Decius Mus, “death is cer­tain. To com­pound the metaphor: a Hillary Clin­ton pres­i­den­cy is Russ­ian Roulette with a semi-auto. With Trump, at least you can spin the cylin­der and take your chances.”

    The essay’s author, lat­er revealed to be a con­ser­v­a­tive writer named Michael Anton, went to work in the Trump White House, which made sense giv­en his descrip­tion in “Flight 93 Elec­tion” of “the cease­less impor­ta­tion of Third World for­eign­ers with no tra­di­tion of, taste for, or expe­ri­ence in lib­er­ty means that the elec­torate grows more left, more Demo­c­ra­t­ic, less Repub­li­can, less repub­li­can, and less tra­di­tion­al­ly Amer­i­can with every cycle.”

    For­mer Clare­mont schol­ars said they were aghast by the think tank’s full-on embrace of Trump in 2016. “The Clare­mont Insti­tute spent 36 years as a res­olute­ly anti-pop­ulist insti­tu­tion, [and] preached right­ly that norms and insti­tu­tions were hard to build and easy to destroy, so to watch them sud­den­ly embrace Trump in May 2016 was like if PETA sud­den­ly pub­lished a bar­be­cue cook­book,” one for­mer fel­low told Vice News.

    In recent years, the think tank court­ed con­tro­ver­sy when it award­ed paid fel­low­ships to Jack Poso­biec, a right-wing influ­encer who was an ear­ly pro­mot­er of the Seth Rich and Piz­za­gate con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, and Char­lie Kirk, head of the pro-Trump activist group Turn­ing Point USA who has pushed base­less elec­tion-fraud the­o­ries and vowed to defend young peo­ple who wouldn’t refused vac­ci­na­tion from what he called “med­ical apartheid.”

    But Clare­mont wouldn’t ful­ly land in the spot­light until the end of Trump’s pres­i­den­cy. On Jan. 6, John East­man, a law pro­fes­sor and Clare­mont schol­ar, spoke at the “Save Amer­i­ca” ral­ly on Jan. 6, 2021, that pre­ced­ed the Capi­tol insur­rec­tion. East­man repeat­ed sev­er­al elec­tion-relat­ed con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, alleg­ing that “machines con­tributed to that fraud” by “unload­ing the bal­lots from the secret fold­er,” a ver­sion of the ram­pant con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries spread by Trump cam­paign lawyers about the com­pa­ny Domin­ion Vot­ing Sys­tems.

    As would lat­er be revealed, East­man also wrote two mem­os out­lin­ing a plan for how then-Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence could over­turn the 2020 result on Jan­u­ary 6. “The main thing here is that Pence should do this with­out ask­ing for per­mis­sion — either from a vote of the joint ses­sion or from the Court,” East­man wrote. “Let the oth­er side chal­lenge his actions in court…” (Worth not­ing: The Clare­mont Review would lat­er pub­lish its own cri­tique of Eastman’s mem­os by a pro­fes­sor of gov­ern­ment and ethics at Clare­mont McKen­na col­lege. After walk­ing through a key piece of Eastman’s argu­ment, the pro­fes­sor, Joseph Bes­sette, wrote: “One doesn’t have to be a schol­ar of the Amer­i­can Found­ing, a pro­fes­sor of con­sti­tu­tion­al law, or an expert in elec­tion law to know that this sim­ply can­not be right.”)

    Clare­mont con­tin­ues to push the stolen-elec­tion myth and has appar­ent­ly helped state law­mak­ers draft leg­is­la­tion to make elec­tion laws more favor­able to the Repub­li­can Par­ty. In Octo­ber, Clare­mont Pres­i­dent Ryan Williams told an under­cov­er lib­er­al activist that East­man was “still very involved with a lot of the state leg­is­la­tors and advis­ing them on elec­tion integri­ty stuff.”

    ...

    ———–

    “Revealed: The Bil­lion­aires Fund­ing the Coup’s Brain Trust” by Andy Kroll; The Rolling Stone; 01/12/2022

    “The biggest right-wing megadonors in Amer­i­ca made major con­tri­bu­tions to Clare­mont in 2020 and 2021, accord­ing to foun­da­tion finan­cial records obtained by Rolling Stone. The high-pro­file donors include sev­er­al of the most influ­en­tial fam­i­lies who fund con­ser­v­a­tive pol­i­tics and pol­i­cy: the DeVos­es of West Michi­gan, the Bradleys of Mil­wau­kee, and the Scaifes of Pitts­burgh.”

    The DeVos­es, Scaifes, and Bradleys. All con­ser­v­a­tive mega-donors. And all fam­i­lies with long-stand­ing Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy con­nec­tions, along with new mem­ber Char­lie Kirk:

    ...
    Bradley in par­tic­u­lar has giv­en heav­i­ly to groups that traf­fic in mis­lead­ing or base­less claims about “elec­tion integri­ty” or wide­spread “vot­er fraud.” Thanks to a $6.5 mil­lion infu­sion from the Bradley Impact Fund, a relat­ed non­prof­it, the under­cov­er-sting group Project Ver­i­tas near­ly dou­bled its rev­enue in 2020 to $22 mil­lion, accord­ing to the group’s tax fil­ing. Bradley is also a long-time fun­der of the Her­itage Foun­da­tion, which helped archi­tect the wave of vot­er sup­pres­sion bills intro­duced in state leg­is­la­tures this year, and True the Vote, a con­ser­v­a­tive group that trains poll watch­ers and stokes fears of ram­pant vot­er fraud in the past.

    The Bradley Foun­da­tion was found­ed in 1942 by the Bradley fam­i­ly. Broth­ers Har­ry and Lyn­de Bradley co-found­ed the Allen-Bradley com­pa­ny, which would lat­er pro­vide much of the fund­ing for the Bradley Foun­da­tion. The non­prof­it, which has giv­en out more than $1 bil­lion in its his­to­ry, no longer has any Bradley fam­i­ly mem­bers on its board.

    ...

    In recent years, the think tank court­ed con­tro­ver­sy when it award­ed paid fel­low­ships to Jack Poso­biec, a right-wing influ­encer who was an ear­ly pro­mot­er of the Seth Rich and Piz­za­gate con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, and Char­lie Kirk, head of the pro-Trump activist group Turn­ing Point USA who has pushed base­less elec­tion-fraud the­o­ries and vowed to defend young peo­ple who wouldn’t refused vac­ci­na­tion from what he called “med­ical apartheid.”
    ...

    Then there’s the infa­mous “The Flight 93 Elec­tion” essay pub­lished on the eve of the 2016 elec­tion by Michael Anton, essen­tial­ly mak­ing a kind of ‘red-pilled’ ratio­nale for why the risks of asso­ci­at­ed with Trump’s open fas­cism pale in com­par­i­son to the dan­gers of a Hillary Clin­ton pres­i­den­cy. The Clare­mont Insti­tute been fas­cism-friend­ly for years:

    ...
    The Clare­mont Institute’s mis­sion, as its pres­i­dent, Ryan Williams, recent­ly put it, is to “save West­ern civ­i­liza­tion.” Since the 2016 pres­i­den­tial race, Clare­mont tried to give an intel­lec­tu­al veneer to the frothy mix of nativism and iso­la­tion­ism rep­re­sent­ed by can­di­date Don­ald Trump. The think tank was per­haps best known for its mag­a­zine, the Clare­mont Review of Books, and on the eve of the ’16 elec­tion, the Review pub­lished an essay called “The Flight 93 Elec­tion,” com­par­ing the choice fac­ing Repub­li­can vot­ers to that of the pas­sen­gers who ulti­mate­ly chose to bring down the fourth plane on Sep­tem­ber 11th. If con­ser­v­a­tives didn’t rush the prover­bial cock­pit, the author, iden­ti­fied by the pen name Pub­lius Decius Mus, “death is cer­tain. To com­pound the metaphor: a Hillary Clin­ton pres­i­den­cy is Russ­ian Roulette with a semi-auto. With Trump, at least you can spin the cylin­der and take your chances.”

    The essay’s author, lat­er revealed to be a con­ser­v­a­tive writer named Michael Anton, went to work in the Trump White House, which made sense giv­en his descrip­tion in “Flight 93 Elec­tion” of “the cease­less impor­ta­tion of Third World for­eign­ers with no tra­di­tion of, taste for, or expe­ri­ence in lib­er­ty means that the elec­torate grows more left, more Demo­c­ra­t­ic, less Repub­li­can, less repub­li­can, and less tra­di­tion­al­ly Amer­i­can with every cycle.”
    ...

    It’s worth not­ing that Anton pub­lished an essay in the Clare­mont Review of Books in the days fol­low­ing the insur­rec­tion where he lament­ed how the insur­rec­tion would be used to cur­tail civ­il lib­er­ties while mak­ing the case that there real­ly were mas­sive elec­tion anom­alies. In May of 2021, Anton held a two-hour pod­cast with ‘Alt Right’ per­son­al­i­ty Cur­tis Yarvin (a.k.a. Men­cius Mold­bug) on the top­ic of whether or not the US should have an ‘Amer­i­can Cae­sar’.

    But it’s John East­man’s ongo­ing role as one of the lead­ing ‘con­sti­tu­tion­al schol­ars’ back­ing the ‘stolen elec­tion’ nar­ra­tive that makes this sto­ry a warn­ing of what’s to come. John East­man’s cred­i­bil­i­ty as a con­sti­tu­tion­al lawyer is root­ed in large part with his asso­ci­a­tion with insti­tu­tions like the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety and the Clare­mont Insti­tute. It’ an exam­ple of how the attempt to steal the 2020 elec­tion was for all prac­ti­cal pur­pos­es a Repub­li­can estab­lish­ment plan:

    ...
    But Clare­mont wouldn’t ful­ly land in the spot­light until the end of Trump’s pres­i­den­cy. On Jan. 6, John East­man, a law pro­fes­sor and Clare­mont schol­ar, spoke at the “Save Amer­i­ca” ral­ly on Jan. 6, 2021, that pre­ced­ed the Capi­tol insur­rec­tion. East­man repeat­ed sev­er­al elec­tion-relat­ed con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, alleg­ing that “machines con­tributed to that fraud” by “unload­ing the bal­lots from the secret fold­er,” a ver­sion of the ram­pant con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries spread by Trump cam­paign lawyers about the com­pa­ny Domin­ion Vot­ing Sys­tems.

    As would lat­er be revealed, East­man also wrote two mem­os out­lin­ing a plan for how then-Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence could over­turn the 2020 result on Jan­u­ary 6. “The main thing here is that Pence should do this with­out ask­ing for per­mis­sion — either from a vote of the joint ses­sion or from the Court,” East­man wrote. “Let the oth­er side chal­lenge his actions in court…” (Worth not­ing: The Clare­mont Review would lat­er pub­lish its own cri­tique of Eastman’s mem­os by a pro­fes­sor of gov­ern­ment and ethics at Clare­mont McKen­na col­lege. After walk­ing through a key piece of Eastman’s argu­ment, the pro­fes­sor, Joseph Bes­sette, wrote: “One doesn’t have to be a schol­ar of the Amer­i­can Found­ing, a pro­fes­sor of con­sti­tu­tion­al law, or an expert in elec­tion law to know that this sim­ply can­not be right.”)

    Clare­mont con­tin­ues to push the stolen-elec­tion myth and has appar­ent­ly helped state law­mak­ers draft leg­is­la­tion to make elec­tion laws more favor­able to the Repub­li­can Par­ty. In Octo­ber, Clare­mont Pres­i­dent Ryan Williams told an under­cov­er lib­er­al activist that East­man was “still very involved with a lot of the state leg­is­la­tors and advis­ing them on elec­tion integri­ty stuff.”
    ...

    So as we can see, if the Clare­mont Insti­tute learned any­thing from the Jan­u­ary 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion, it’s the les­son that there are no costs to wag­ing an insur­rec­tion. Sure, the rab­ble who stormed the Capi­tol might end up fac­ing con­se­quences. But the archi­tects and financiers will walk. And not only will they walk, but they’ll be wel­comed back into polite soci­ety and giv­en shov­els of cash to pre­pare for the next insur­rec­tion. Con­se­quences are for the poor. It’s not exact­ly a new les­son for the oli­garchy. Kind of the same les­son they just keep learn­ing over and over.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 16, 2022, 8:03 pm
  5. Great research! The White Chris­t­ian Nation­al­ist move­ment was also fund­ed by HL Hunt start­ing in the 1950s. He was a Nazi sym­pethiz­er in WWII.

    Posted by Mary Benton | January 19, 2022, 7:54 pm
  6. @Pterrafractyl and Mary Ben­ton–

    Not a new con­cept:

    Check out para­graph 10.

    https://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-497-nightmare/

    Keep up the great work!

    Dave Emory

    Posted by Dave Emory | January 20, 2022, 5:24 pm
  7. @Dave: Relat­ed to the con­tents of para­graph 10 on FTR#497 and the warn­ings about Chris­t­ian Fun­da­men­tal­ist net­work­ing with Nazis before the near of WWII found in Curt Riess 1944 book The Nazis Go Under­ground, here’s an arti­cle from Reli­gions Dis­patch­es about anoth­er one of the extrem­ist ties of the net­work of “Prayer Cau­cus­es” oper­at­ing around the US. A pow­er­ful net­work that was already oper­a­tion at the end of WWII: The Fel­low­ship.

    First, recall how Project Blitz is a project large­ly man­aged by the Con­gres­sion­al Prayer Cau­cus Foun­da­tion (CPCF). The CPCF, in turn, has a sin­gle paid employ­ee, CNP mem­ber Lea Carawan. The CPCF has clear CNP ties.

    But as the fol­low­ing Feb­ru­ary 2021 piece points out, the CPCF also has close ties to anoth­er pow­er­ful insti­tu­tion: The Nation­al Prayer Break­fast (NPB). And as we’ve saw in FTR#697, the Nation­al Prayer Break­fast is a prod­uct of The Fel­low­ship (aka “The Fam­i­ly”). Also recall how the The Fel­low­ship was almost like an ear­li­er iter­a­tion of the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy, where the lead­ers in pol­i­tics, Fun­da­men­tal­ist Chris­tian­i­ty, and busi­ness cre­at­ed what amounts to a secret cult of pow­er. A secret reli­gious pow­er cult with a num­ber of fas­ci­nat­ing socio-the­o­log­i­cal par­al­lels with the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood.

    In that sense, it’s not real­ly a stretch to view Project Blitz and the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy as just the mod­ern iter­a­tion of the same Nazi-lov­ing fas­cist cor­po­ratist reli­gious pow­er cult:

    Reli­gions Dis­atch­es

    2021 Nation­al Prayer Break­fast: A Kinder Gen­tler Chris­t­ian Cap­i­tal­ism

    By Becky Gar­ri­son
    Feb­ru­ary 8, 2021

    The 2021 Nation­al Prayer Break­fast (NPB), held annu­al­ly the first Thurs­day in Feb­ru­ary and attend­ed by every sit­ting Pres­i­dent since its found­ing in 1953, revert­ed this year to dish­ing out their faith based pro­gram­ming on fine chi­na in lieu of the fast-food ver­sion served by the Trump White House. As expect­ed, media cov­er­age of NPB focused on Pres­i­dent Joe Biden’s bipar­ti­san mes­sage of nation­al uni­ty and faith in light of the Jan­u­ary 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion, with even Fox News high­light­ing Biden’s call to end “polit­i­cal extrem­ism.”

    Gone were the Trumpian out­ward dis­plays of a politi­cized ver­sion of Chris­tian­i­ty that con­tained a tox­ic mix­ture of con­ser­v­a­tive white evan­gel­i­cal­ism, pros­per­i­ty gospel preach­ing, and Chris­t­ian nation­al­ism. Instead, all liv­ing for­mer Pres­i­dents sans Don­ald J. Trump joined Pres­i­dent Biden in pro­mot­ing a future filled with faith and for­give­ness. The Wash­ing­ton Post described the mood as a “return to the event’s his­tor­i­cal­ly lofty tone” that “high­light­ed the president’s effort to restore Washington’s insti­tu­tions to their tra­di­tion­al pre-Trump form.”

    One can pre­sume that “tra­di­tion­al pre-Trump form,” rep­re­sents a dis­crete ref­er­ence to white-gloved back­door diplo­ma­cy prac­ticed by The Fam­i­ly that pro­motes their fun­da­men­tal­ist mix­ture of cap­i­tal­ism and Chris­tian­i­ty. Orga­niz­ers and speak­ers at this year’s NPB remained mum regard­ing the role The Fam­i­ly played behind the scenes in the Trump admin­is­tra­tion via foot sol­diers like for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, for­mer Edu­ca­tion Sec­re­tary Bet­sy DeVos, and for­mer Attor­ney Gen­er­al Jeff Sessions—or The Family’s grow­ing rela­tion­ship with coun­tries like Rus­sia.

    Even though Sen. Chris Coons (D‑DE) ref­er­enced peo­ple of all faiths in his intro­duc­tion of Pres­i­dent Biden, the NPB remains decid­ed­ly Chris­t­ian. In his decades of research into The Fam­i­ly, author and jour­nal­ist Jeff Sharlet observed how this secre­tive orga­ni­za­tion behind the NPB pro­motes a “spe­cif­ic vision of Jesus as the ide­al ‘strong­man’ [that] gov­erns their polit­i­cal the­ol­o­gy,” adding that they “found, in strong­man-sym­pa­thet­ic Trump, an ide­al ves­sel for their beliefs.”

    As report­ed by The Young Turks, while Trump may be absent from this year’s NPB, Fam­i­ly lead­ers made cam­paign dona­tions after Elec­tion Day to Trump. Also, Con­gres­sion­al Repub­li­cans like Sen. James Lank­ford (R‑OK), the return­ing co-chair of this year’s NPB who runs the close­ly-aligned Con­gres­sion­al Prayer Cau­cus, con­tin­ued to sup­port the “Stop the Steal” cam­paign until pro­tes­tors stormed the Capi­tol on Jan­u­ary 6, 2021.

    Fur­ther­more, while the NPB remains large­ly Repub­li­can run, twelve cur­rent Demo­c­ra­t­ic mem­bers of Con­gress signed off on using their names as “hon­orary” rep­re­sen­ta­tives and sen­a­tors for this year’s break­fast.

    In his best­selling book, The Fam­i­ly., and the Net­flix doc­u­men­tary of the same name, Sharlet detailed how by “intro­duc­ing pow­er­ful men to Jesus, the Fam­i­ly has man­aged to effect a num­ber of behind-the-scenes acts of diplo­ma­cy.” For exam­ple, when the Nation­al Prayer Break­fast is held in per­son, this event allows indi­vid­u­als access to the pres­i­dent with­out going through the usu­al vet­ting process by the State Depart­ment.

    As antic­i­pat­ed, sec­u­lar groups con­tin­ue to express con­cern over the reli­gious rhetoric used dur­ing this year’s NPB with repeat­ed calls to end this annu­al tra­di­tion that pro­motes a politi­cized ver­sion of Chris­tian­i­ty. Mean­while, the Unit­ed States con­tin­ues to become increas­ing­ly plu­ral­is­tic with nones rep­re­sent­ing the largest reli­gious vot­ing block in the Unit­ed States. Rob Boston of Amer­i­cans Unit­ed for Sep­a­ra­tion of Church and State opines, “While it was a relief this year not to see the break­fast descend into the kind of embar­rass­ment it often was dur­ing the Trump years, that hard­ly means the event is worth sav­ing. This year ought to be its last.”

    ...

    ———

    “2021 Nation­al Prayer Break­fast: A Kinder Gen­tler Chris­t­ian Cap­i­tal­ism” By Becky Gar­ri­son; Reli­gions Dis­patch­es; 02/08/2021

    “As report­ed by The Young Turks, while Trump may be absent from this year’s NPB, Fam­i­ly lead­ers made cam­paign dona­tions after Elec­tion Day to Trump. Also, Con­gres­sion­al Repub­li­cans like Sen. James Lank­ford (R‑OK), the return­ing co-chair of this year’s NPB who runs the close­ly-aligned Con­gres­sion­al Prayer Cau­cus, con­tin­ued to sup­port the “Stop the Steal” cam­paign until pro­tes­tors stormed the Capi­tol on Jan­u­ary 6, 2021. ”

    Yep, the return­ing co-chair of the 2021 NPB is Sen­a­tor James Lank­ford, the per­son also run­ning the close­ly-aligned Con­gres­sion­al Prayer Cau­cus. We’re look­ing at the same under­ly­ing net­work. A net­work that for decades pined for exact­ly the kind of strong-man author­i­tar­i­an leader Don­ald Trump rep­re­sent­ed:

    ...
    Even though Sen. Chris Coons (D‑DE) ref­er­enced peo­ple of all faiths in his intro­duc­tion of Pres­i­dent Biden, the NPB remains decid­ed­ly Chris­t­ian. In his decades of research into The Fam­i­ly, author and jour­nal­ist Jeff Sharlet observed how this secre­tive orga­ni­za­tion behind the NPB pro­motes a “spe­cif­ic vision of Jesus as the ide­al ‘strong­man’ [that] gov­erns their polit­i­cal the­ol­o­gy,” adding that they “found, in strong­man-sym­pa­thet­ic Trump, an ide­al ves­sel for their beliefs.”

    ...

    In his best­selling book, The Fam­i­ly., and the Net­flix doc­u­men­tary of the same name, Sharlet detailed how by “intro­duc­ing pow­er­ful men to Jesus, the Fam­i­ly has man­aged to effect a num­ber of behind-the-scenes acts of diplo­ma­cy.” For exam­ple, when the Nation­al Prayer Break­fast is held in per­son, this event allows indi­vid­u­als access to the pres­i­dent with­out going through the usu­al vet­ting process by the State Depart­ment.
    ...

    So while the CNP’s fin­ger­prints are all over the 2020 efforts to over­turn the elec­tion results, this arti­cle is a reminder that the insti­tu­tion­al ori­gins of these efforts go, in part, back to the net­work­ing between Chris­t­ian Fun­da­men­tal­ism, cor­po­ratism, and fas­cism that Curt Riess was warn­ing us about back in 1944.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 22, 2022, 7:48 pm
  8. @Pterrafractyl–

    Yeah, “Chris­tian­i­ty” is one of the most com­mon cov­ers for fas­cism: Ger­ald L.K. Smith’s Chris­t­ian Nation­al­ist Cru­sade:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Nationalist_Crusade

    It’s mag­a­zine “The Cross and the Flag” and many oth­ers.

    Charles Willough­by’s Inter­na­tion­al Com­mit­tee for the Defense of Chris­t­ian Cul­ture is a real beau­ty.

    Involved in vir­tu­al­ly every rot­ten thing in the sec­ond half of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry.

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | January 23, 2022, 4:16 pm
  9. Remem­ber that pro­found­ly dis­turb­ing report we got back in 2018 about a Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can, Matt Shea, who had secret­ly penned a man­i­festo call­ing for the wag­ing of Bib­li­cal War to takeover the US in 2016? Recall how Shea’s man­i­festo called for the exe­cu­tion of any adult males who refused to sub­mit to the new theoc­ra­cy and he was even plot­ting with oth­er local mil­i­tants in com­ing up with a assas­si­na­tion list of left-wing lead­ers. The plan to was kill the Antifa lead­ers in their homes.

    Well, here’s a pair of arti­cles that’s a reminder that Shea’s net­work of mil­i­tant extrem­ist theocrats is the exact same net­work behind Project Blitz. Yep, Matt Shea and theocrats in his orbit have been active­ly work­ing as devel­op­ing a nation­al net­work of “Prayer Cau­cus­es”. Shea him­self was the founder of the Wash­ing­ton State Prayer Cau­cus. Recall how the Con­gres­sion­al Prayer Cau­cus Foun­da­tion oper­ates as the par­ent orga­ni­za­tion of Project Blitz.

    Shea’s close asso­ciate, Tim Tay­lor, is also involved in these efforts. In keep­ing with the “Sev­en Moun­tains” theme of their shared form of Domin­ion­ist the­ol­o­gy, Tay­lor wrote about how he met with mem­bers of the Wash­ing­ton Leg­isla­tive Prayer Cau­cus where they agree to form an “apostolic/strategic coun­cil” for the ‘moun­tain’ of state gov­ern­ment.

    Anoth­er asso­ciate of Shea’s, Ken Peters, recent­ly relo­cat­ed to Knoxville, TN, to set up a “Patri­ot Church”, one of a num­ber of “Patri­ot Church­es” being estab­lished by this net­work around the US. As we’re going to see, Peters was not only present at the Capi­tol on Jan 6, he actu­al­ly spoke at a “Stop the Steal” ral­ly there on Jan 5 thanks to the last-minute gen­eros­i­ty of Mike Lin­dell. After attend­ing a Jan 4 Trump ral­ly in Dal­ton, Geor­gia, Peters says he was invit­ed by the ral­ly orga­niz­ers to speak at the Jan 5 “Stop the Steal” ral­ly in DC. Peters explained how he would have to dri­ve their overnight to make it. That’s when Mike Lin­dell offered to fly Peters on his pri­vate plane and pay for his hotel fees. Shea end­ed up get­ting the final speak­ers slot at that ral­ly, which was described as a speech filled with rev­o­lu­tion­ary fer­vor. Fol­low­ing the insur­rec­tion, Peters blamed it all on Antifa provo­ca­teurs.

    And where was Shea on Jan 6? He was at a “Stop the Steal” ral­ly in North­ern Ida­ho, where he exhort­ed the crowd to “fight back in every sin­gle sphere we pos­si­bly can,” and to pre­pare for “total war.”

    Oh, and there’s anoth­er notable con­nec­tion between Shea and the per­pe­tra­tors of the Jan 6 insur­rec­tion: Shea is quite close to the move­ment sur­round­ing the Oath Keep­ers. It turns out both Shea was at a 2013 found­ing meet­ing of the for the Con­sti­tu­tion­al Sher­iffs and Peace Offi­cers Asso­ci­a­tion (CSPOA). Recall how the CSPOA is close­ly asso­ci­at­ed with the Oath Keep­ers and was a major backer of the Bundy fam­i­ly armed stand­offs, which is why we should­n’t be at all sur­prised to find Oath Keep­ers founder Stew­art Rhodes — who was recent­ly indict­ed for his role in the Jan­u­ary 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion — was at that meet­ing too.

    That’s the sad real­i­ty of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics: Matt Shea, a GOP politi­cians who was casu­al­ly dis­missed as a mil­i­tant extrem­ist unrep­re­sen­ta­tive of his par­ty, turns out to be a key play­er in the grow­ing theo­crat­ic move­ment that almost pulled off an insur­rec­tion. A grow­ing theo­crat­ic move­ment that is increas­ing­ly the main­stream inside the Repub­li­can Par­ty. In oth­er words, if you thought the GOP could­n’t get any worse after Trump, keep in mind that the era of Matt Shea-style GOP pol­i­tics is still dawn­ing:

    Reli­gion Dis­patch­es

    Con­ver­gence of Far-Right, Anti-Demo­c­ra­t­ic Fac­tions in the North­west Could Pro­vide a Mod­el for the Rest of the Nation

    By Fred­er­ick Clark­son and Cloee Coop­er
    May 25, 2021

    The city of Spokane, Wash­ing­ton sits at the east­ern edge of the state—a moun­tain range and a cul­tur­al world away from the Pacif­ic coast. It looks east­ward to Ida­ho and Mon­tana, and south to East­ern Ore­gon, where far right seces­sion­ist move­ments have been orga­niz­ing for years. Seces­sion­ist ideas, while still not quite pop­u­lar, have gone main­stream enough that even a senior Repub­li­can, then-State Rep. Matt Shea (R‑Spokane Val­ley) had float­ed the idea of break­ing off East­ern Wash­ing­ton to form a 51st state called “Lib­er­ty.”

    Unsur­pris­ing­ly per­haps, Shea and Patri­ot move­ment allies had been qui­et­ly also plan­ning to seize con­trol of the region after the out­break of a civ­il war, and the fall of the U.S. government—installing Shea as a region­al gov­ern­men­tal leader. The jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for this was to insti­tute unspec­i­fied “con­sti­tu­tion­al changes” and to “sanc­ti­fy to Jesus Christ” [sic].

    Many lead­ers of the Chris­t­ian Right aren’t house­hold names. But some of them, work­ing in the shad­ows just beyond the nation­al lime­light, pro­vide glimpses into poten­tial reli­gious con­flict in the U.S. These include Shea and Apos­tle Tim Tay­lor of King­dom League Inter­na­tion­al in Wash­ing­ton State, whose sto­ries have con­verged in remark­able ways. Both are retired mil­i­tary com­bat offi­cers who have emerged as non-denom­i­na­tion­al reli­gious lead­ers, bring­ing a cer­tain oper­a­tional poten­tial to the grow­ing mil­i­ta­riza­tion of theo­crat­ic reli­gious visions of the Chris­t­ian Right.

    Shea, 47, who served in the state’s House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from 2009 until this year, has nav­i­gat­ed the tumul­tuous far-right fac­tions of the West for more than 15 years. These include the up-and-com­ing New Apos­tolic Ref­or­ma­tion, extreme ele­ments of the anti-abor­tion move­ment, and reli­gious­ly-ani­mat­ed parts of the Patri­ot move­ment.

    He’s a for­mer offi­cer in the Army and the Nation­al Guard, who served in Bosnia and Iraq and has a remark­able post-mil­i­tary resume that estab­lished his cre­den­tials as a leader in both the Chris­t­ian Right and the Patri­ot move­ment. He was a cofounder of the state polit­i­cal affil­i­ate of Focus on the Fam­i­ly as well as founder of the Spokane chap­ter of the anti-Mus­lim group, ACT for Amer­i­ca.

    In 2017 Shea was elect­ed chair of the Repub­li­can Cau­cus. A year lat­er, he became the found­ing chair­man of the Wash­ing­ton Leg­isla­tive Prayer Cau­cus, which is part of a nation­al net­work of state leg­isla­tive prayer cau­cus­es whose leg­isla­tive agen­da is called Project Blitz.

    First report­ed by RD in 2018, Project Blitz pub­lish­es a man­u­al of Chris­t­ian Right mod­el bills for mem­bers of the prayer cau­cus­es. The bills range from requir­ing pub­lic schools to post In God We Trust dis­plays to allow­ing reli­gious exemp­tions for adop­tion and fos­ter care agen­cies opposed to serv­ing LGBTQ peo­ple. (Shea was list­ed as chair until 2019 when the spon­sor­ing nation­al orga­ni­za­tion, the Con­gres­sion­al Prayer Cau­cus Foun­da­tion (CPCF) scrubbed their site of ref­er­ences to Project Blitz in the face of intense pub­lic scruti­ny. The era­sure includ­ed the names of the chairs and mem­bers of the prayer cau­cus­es.)

    Although CPCF is not as well known as Focus on the Fam­i­ly and the Fam­i­ly Research Coun­cil, it’s led by for­mer eight-term mem­ber of Con­gress, Randy Forbes (R‑VA) and boasts, as Con­gres­sion­al Advi­sors, 22 sit­ting U.S. Sen­a­tors and Mem­bers of Con­gress.

    Shea may be best known for his involve­ment in plan­ning and help­ing coor­di­nate the dra­mat­ic 2016 seizure and occu­pa­tion of the Mal­heur Nation­al Wildlife Refuge in Ore­gon by armed rightwing activists. For this, he was char­ac­ter­ized as a domes­tic ter­ror­ist in a well-doc­u­ment­ed Decem­ber 2019 inves­ti­ga­tion com­mis­sioned by the state House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. “Shea is an active and influ­en­tial leader of the Patri­ot Move­ment in the US,” the inves­ti­ga­tion con­clud­ed, who “presents a present and grow­ing threat of risk to oth­ers through polit­i­cal vio­lence.”

    Pri­or to the Mal­heur occu­pa­tion, Shea was active­ly engaged in forg­ing rela­tion­ships between law enforce­ment and the Patri­ot Move­ment. In May of 2013, Shea spoke at a found­ing meet­ing of the Con­sti­tu­tion­al Sher­iffs and Peace Offi­cers Asso­ci­a­tion (CSPOA) along with promi­nent Patri­ot and far-right lead­ers includ­ing Stew­art Rhodes, the founder of the Oath Keep­ers (one of the groups respon­si­ble for plan­ning the Capi­tol Insur­rec­tion); Bill Nor­ton of the Tea Par­ty Patri­ots; Lar­ry Pratt, the founder of Gun Own­ers of Amer­i­ca; and Joe Wolver­ton of The John Birch Soci­ety. The fol­low­ing year, he signed a CSPOA res­o­lu­tion vow­ing to not enforce fed­er­al gun restric­tions under the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion.

    Fol­low­ing the Decem­ber 2019 House report Shea was expelled from the GOP Cau­cus he had once chaired, although by no means did this put an end to his polit­i­cal activism.

    While Shea didn’t file for reelec­tion in 2020, in May of that year, it was announced that he would become the pas­tor of the non-denom­i­na­tion­al Covenant Church in Spokane. Since then, his pre­de­ces­sor, Rev. Ken Peters, has launched a small start-up net­work of “Patri­ot Church­es.” These are intend­ed to oper­ate with­out the benefits—or indeed the restrictions—of a 501(c)(3) non-prof­it tax sta­tus.

    Apos­tolic prayer coun­cils

    Shea’s fel­low patri­ot Tim Tay­lor is an Apos­tle of the New Apos­tolic Ref­or­ma­tion (NAR). A sel­dom report­ed-on move­ment of Pen­te­costal and charis­mat­ic evan­gel­i­cal­ism that’s play­ing a grow­ing role in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics. NAR holds to a com­pre­hen­sive theo­nom­ic vision, pop­u­lar­ly described as Sev­en Moun­tains Domin­ion­ism, which calls for believ­ers to take con­trol over sev­en lead­ing aspects of soci­ety: fam­i­ly, gov­ern­ment, reli­gion, edu­ca­tion, media, arts and enter­tain­ment, and busi­ness. (The metaphor is some­times used inter­change­ably with spheres, pil­lars, and gates.) Most, but not all, hold to this view, and there’s room for dif­fer­ences because the move­ment seeks uni­ty over doc­tri­nal con­for­mi­ty.

    NAR rejects such con­tem­po­rary denom­i­na­tion­al offices as popes and pres­i­dents, and rec­og­nizes those pre­scribed in the New Tes­ta­ment book of Eph­esians: apos­tle, prophet, teacher, evan­ge­list, and pastor—what they call “the five-fold min­istry.”

    Some well-known Chris­t­ian Right fig­ures in the NAR camp include Don­ald Trump’s spir­i­tu­al advi­sor, Apos­tle Paula White; Texas-based Chris­t­ian Right strate­gist David Bar­ton; Rev. Samuel Rodriguez of the Nation­al His­pan­ic Lead­er­ship Con­fer­ence; and Lt. Gen. William Boykin, (ret.) Exec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent of the Fam­i­ly Research Coun­cil.

    Taylor’s King­dom League Inter­na­tion­al web­site declares, “We are a covenan­tal alliance of lead­ers, min­is­ters, church­es, min­istries and net­works col­lab­o­rat­ing togeth­er to mobi­lize the Church as the army of the Lord.” He fur­ther explains, “Our alliance is com­posed of lead­ers rep­re­sent­ing each of the sev­en spheres of soci­ety and the five-fold min­istry.”

    Apos­tle Tay­lor envi­sions and seeks to form “apos­tolic prayer coun­cils” over the Sev­en Moun­tains. He wrote that in Feb­ru­ary 2019, he had met with mem­bers of the Wash­ing­ton Leg­isla­tive Prayer Cau­cus over din­ner at Daniel’s Prayer Min­istry, a block from the state capi­tol in Olympia. The Min­istry is led by Eliz­a­beth Soren­son who also serves as the State Direc­tor of the Prayer Cau­cus.

    They agreed to form an “apostolic/strategic coun­cil” for the moun­tain of state gov­ern­ment. “Last night we made his­to­ry,” Tay­lor declared. Indeed, while such coun­cils exist in some cities and towns around the coun­try, this may be the first such state orga­ni­za­tion. He described the role of the Apos­tolic Coun­cil in a video, “made just for those who’re part of the Wash­ing­ton State Prayer Cau­cus.” It clos­es with a screen shot of Prayer Cau­cus Chair­man Shea tak­en from the Prayer Cau­cus web­site.

    Orig­i­nal­ly they planned to noti­fy their net­work of prayer war­riors with leg­isla­tive prayer alerts via an app. But since the app hasn’t worked, Tay­lor pub­lish­es a list of the leg­is­la­tion they want peo­ple to sup­port or oppose, includ­ing talk­ing points on every­thing from abor­tion to edu­ca­tion to diver­si­ty train­ing for pub­lic employ­ees.

    When war is not a metaphor

    Shea and Tay­lor aren’t celebri­ty reli­gious lead­ers whose every utter­ance is not­ed by the media. And as tempt­ing as it might be to think of them as too fringey to be con­se­quen­tial, they may be bet­ter thought of as lead­ers in a grow­ing move­ment that’s not only greater than the sum of its parts—but one that has grown in both its capac­i­ty for and its inten­tions towards insur­rec­tionary vio­lence.

    It’s tak­en gen­er­a­tions of the­o­log­i­cal change and polit­i­cal devel­op­ment for this evolv­ing move­ment to get this far. And they’re aware that there will be many bat­tles won and lost in the course of the war—a war that, to their strate­gic advan­tage, many peo­ple remain unaware has been long underway—and that it’s not just about cul­ture.

    Apos­tle Tay­lor, who served in Desert Storm and then retired as a Com­man­der in the Naval Reserve in 2006, uses mil­i­tary terms to describe the end-times war with evil. In his 2008 book Oper­a­tion Rolling Thun­der (which was endorsed by lead­ing Apos­tles, includ­ing NAR founder C. Peter Wag­n­er) Tay­lor insist­ed, “through­out this book, you will find ref­er­ences to the army, war, bat­tles, etc… How­ev­er, scrip­ture is clear… that our war is not with flesh and blood. Our fight is with spir­i­tu­al armies of wicked­ness in heav­en­ly places.”

    ...

    Tay­lor and fel­low NAR Apos­tles have estab­lished elab­o­rate prayer net­works to pray for gov­ern­ment offi­cials and to mobi­lize for their pre­ferred poli­cies and elec­toral engage­ments. But there can be an edge to their vision and their strat­e­gy of “spir­i­tu­al war­fare” via prayer to com­bat demons—an edge that could lead to phys­i­cal con­fronta­tion in the polit­i­cal and cul­tur­al bat­tles of our time.

    For exam­ple, there was cer­tain­ly no ques­tion about what Matt Shea had in mind when he authored his 2016 man­i­festo on the Bib­li­cal Basis for War, which reads like a to-do list for reli­gious civ­il war. The inves­ti­ga­tors report­ed that Shea’s “spir­i­tu­al advi­sors,” Bar­ry and Anne Byrd of Mar­ble Com­mu­ni­ty Fel­low­ship, joined fel­low Patri­ots at the secret strat­e­gy meet­ing where Shea pre­sent­ed his man­i­festo, “that offered his view of God’s autho­riza­tion for war.” Shea’s man­i­festo, accord­ing to the report, “advo­cat­ed killing all males who did not yield to stop­ping all abor­tions, sup­port­ed same sex mar­riage, and did not obey Bib­li­cal law. He also assert­ed that ‘Assas­si­na­tion to remove tyrants is just, and is not mur­der.’” (Empha­sis in the orig­i­nal). Shea also dis­trib­uted a blue­print for rebuild­ing after the fall of the US Gov­ern­ment.

    Jason Wil­son of The Guardian report­ed that Mar­ble Com­mu­ni­ty Fel­low­ship has “a com­pound on the Colum­bia Riv­er, not far from the Cana­di­an bor­der. It believes in rule by their inter­pre­ta­tions of bib­li­cal law.” There, they seek to train “young men in ‘bib­li­cal war­fare’ that includes how to use knives, pis­tols and rifles.” The pro­gram is called “Team Rugged.”

    One aspect of Shea’s plan that was not dis­cussed in the report or sub­se­quent press cov­er­age about the 2016 Bib­li­cal Basis for War was his cryp­tic call for the for­ma­tion of “prayer coun­cils” to deter­mine whether God is call­ing them to war. Shea’s plan was exposed and promi­nent­ly cov­ered in the Wash­ing­ton state media in 2018. Apos­tle Tay­lor nev­er­the­less worked with then-Prayer Cau­cus Chair­man Shea to ini­ti­ate a state prayer coun­cil in Wash­ing­ton in Feb­ru­ary 2019.

    In May, Tay­lor report­ed that the Wash­ing­ton State Apos­tolic Coun­cil prayed for gov­ern­ment offi­cials at all lev­els, but “the Gov­ern­ment Moun­tain” prayed, “LORD if they are not just, then we pray remove them (Psalm 109:8 – let their days be few and anoth­er take their office).”

    This might seem benign to some, but con­text mat­ters. The bib­li­cal King David, the author of the impre­ca­to­ry prayer they invoked, is call­ing on God to destroy his ene­mies and their fam­i­lies. As has been wide­ly dis­cussed, the phrase “let their days be few” is a prayer against their lives, not just their tenure in office.

    Wag­ing bib­li­cal war­fare against repro­duc­tive free­dom

    When Rev. Ken Peters left Covenant Church and appoint­ed Shea as his suc­ces­sor in order to plant a Patri­ot Church in Knoxville, Ten­nessee, he explained, “This is God mov­ing gen­er­als around.” There are now Patri­ot church­es in Lynch­burg, VA and Spokane as well. Shea’s Covenant Church in Spokane is an “affil­i­ate.”

    Peters pio­neered the tac­tic of stag­ing events they call The Church at Planned Par­ent­hood which takes the form of wor­ship ser­vices in front of the PP cen­ters that are obvi­ous­ly intend­ed to inter­fere with clin­ic patients and staff. The Patri­ot Church­es have con­tin­ued to orga­nize these dis­rup­tive actions and have made their inten­tions clear. “As we grow,” they declared, “the num­ber of ser­vices around the state and nation will con­tin­ue to grow.”

    Peters and Shea both live in the small world of “abor­tion abo­li­tion­ists,” a move­ment that views any­thing short of crim­i­nal­iza­tion, such as restric­tions on access, as “reg­u­lat­ing mur­der.” This move­ment is grow­ing and get­ting noticed for the intro­duc­tion of abor­tion abo­li­tion leg­is­la­tion in six states. Shea was the spon­sor of a bill in 2019; it only had four co-spon­sors, but it epit­o­mizes the main­stream­ing of a new kind of antiabor­tion mil­i­tan­cy.

    ...

    Just this past March, for exam­ple, Shea host­ed vet­er­an antiabor­tion (and now, abor­tion abo­li­tion­ist) leader Rev. Matthew Trewhel­la on his Patri­ot Radio pod­cast. Trewhel­la first came to nation­al atten­tion in the 1990s as one of three dozen sig­na­to­ries to a state­ment that declared that the mur­der of abor­tion providers is “jus­ti­fi­able homi­cide.” He lat­er became noto­ri­ous for his advo­ca­cy for the for­ma­tion of church-based mili­tias.

    Trewhella’s son-in-law (a pas­tor at his church and a fel­low abor­tion abo­li­tion leader) Jason Storms, has been appoint­ed as the new Nation­al Direc­tor of Oper­a­tion Save Amer­i­ca. OSA was for­mer­ly led by Rev. Phillip (“Flip”) Ben­ham, and then Rev. Rusty Lee Thomas, under whose lead­er­ship it began to mobi­lize for abo­li­tion.

    Storms was among the antiabor­tion lead­ers at the Capi­tol on Jan­u­ary 6th. He called it a “rev­o­lu­tion.”

    Occu­py the last days

    Matt Shea hasn’t changed much since chang­ing jobs. On Insur­rec­tion day, Jan­u­ary 6, he urged peo­ple at a “Stop the Steal” ral­ly in north­ern Ida­ho, to “fight back in every sin­gle sphere we pos­si­bly can,” and to pre­pare for “total war.”

    Mean­while, Ken Peters also issued a bat­tle cry at a pre-insur­rec­tion ral­ly in DC. The Spokane Spokesman-Review report­ed that Mike Lin­dell, the CEO of My Pil­low flew him to DC with like-mind­ed pas­tors on his pri­vate jet and put them up at the Trump Inter­na­tion­al Hotel, a few blocks from the White House.

    But like oth­ers whose rhetoric may have exceed­ed their readi­ness to be asso­ci­at­ed with the events at the capi­tol, Peters lat­er said he didn’t agree with the insur­rec­tion.

    Nev­er­the­less, Peters’ church seems to be flour­ish­ing in the post-insur­rec­tion peri­od. They plan to open a school in the Fall (although they don’t yet have a build­ing) and cospon­sored a con­fer­ence on May 7–8. The event fea­tured such notable fig­ures as Rev. Scott Live­ly, per­haps best known as an advo­cate for the noto­ri­ous “Kill the Gays” leg­is­la­tion in Ugan­da, and retired Army Major, Stephen Cough­lin, a for­mer high lev­el mil­i­tary intel­li­gence ana­lyst and Fel­low at the White House Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil.

    Their mate­ri­als are con­sid­ered required read­ing for a new pri­vate intel­li­gence and mili­tia for­ma­tion called, Amer­i­can Con­tin­gency. The pub­li­ca­tions of Coughlin’s think tank, Uncon­strained Ana­lyt­ics, argue that Black Lives Mat­ter in con­junc­tion with ISIS, Antifa, Neo-Marx­ists and Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty oper­a­tives are domes­tic threats. Their mate­ri­als are con­sid­ered required read­ing for a new pri­vate intel­li­gence and mili­tia for­ma­tion called, Amer­i­can Con­tin­gency.

    “We are def­i­nite­ly liv­ing in the last days,” the Patri­ot Church con­fer­ence descrip­tion declared, “but yet we are called to occu­py until the Lord comes.”

    It’s clear that if the occu­pa­tion comes, it will be the result of the con­ver­gence of far right fac­tions seek­ing to tear down the estab­lished insti­tu­tions of democ­ra­cy, what they call “tyran­ny.” The groups and indi­vid­u­als in this sto­ry are best under­stood less as region­al actors and more as epit­o­miz­ing the devel­op­ing rela­tion­ships between ele­ments of the Domin­ion­ist New Apos­tolic Ref­or­ma­tion, the Chris­t­ian Right (as epit­o­mized by Project Blitz), mil­i­tant antiabor­tion­ism, and the insur­rec­tionary Patri­ot Movement—from Wash­ing­ton State to Wash­ing­ton, DC.

    It’s a move­ment that’s always been with us to vary­ing degrees, but it is arguably broad­er and deep­er than at any point in mod­ern his­to­ry. Far out­side of the West­ern moun­tain range where these seces­sion­ist move­ments have become so famil­iar, these net­works are top­pling the bound­aries between main­stream pol­i­tics and reli­gion, tap­ping deep into mul­ti­ple far right net­works across the coun­try to do so. This began long before Jan­u­ary 6th and will con­tin­ue long after.

    ———-

    “Con­ver­gence of Far-Right, Anti-Demo­c­ra­t­ic Fac­tions in the North­west Could Pro­vide a Mod­el for the Rest of the Nation” by Fred­er­ick Clark­son and Cloee Coop­er; Reli­gion Dis­patch­es; 05/25/2021

    “It’s clear that if the occu­pa­tion comes, it will be the result of the con­ver­gence of far right fac­tions seek­ing to tear down the estab­lished insti­tu­tions of democ­ra­cy, what they call “tyran­ny.” The groups and indi­vid­u­als in this sto­ry are best under­stood less as region­al actors and more as epit­o­miz­ing the devel­op­ing rela­tion­ships between ele­ments of the Domin­ion­ist New Apos­tolic Ref­or­ma­tion, the Chris­t­ian Right (as epit­o­mized by Project Blitz), mil­i­tant antiabor­tion­ism, and the insur­rec­tionary Patri­ot Movement—from Wash­ing­ton State to Wash­ing­ton, DC.

    Matt Shea and the large ‘Patri­ot Church’ move­ment aren’t just a region­al extrem­ist move­ment. They are part of a nation­al net­work of theo­crat­ic extrem­ists that is increas­ing­ly in con­trol of the GOP at both the state and nation­al lev­el. Matt Shea is just the Wash­ing­ton State leader inside this larg­er net­work. Except, as the arti­cle notes, Shea is more than just a region­al leader. Along with oth­er fig­ures in his orbit like Tim Tay­lor (Apos­tle Tay­lor) and Ken Peters, Matt Shea is oper­at­ing as a con­ser­v­a­tive thought-leader. Yeah, he’s fringe. Cut­ting-edge fringe:

    ...
    Fol­low­ing the Decem­ber 2019 House report Shea was expelled from the GOP Cau­cus he had once chaired, although by no means did this put an end to his polit­i­cal activism.

    While Shea didn’t file for reelec­tion in 2020, in May of that year, it was announced that he would become the pas­tor of the non-denom­i­na­tion­al Covenant Church in Spokane. Since then, his pre­de­ces­sor, Rev. Ken Peters, has launched a small start-up net­work of “Patri­ot Church­es.” These are intend­ed to oper­ate with­out the benefits—or indeed the restrictions—of a 501(c)(3) non-prof­it tax sta­tus.

    Apos­tolic prayer coun­cils

    Shea’s fel­low patri­ot Tim Tay­lor is an Apos­tle of the New Apos­tolic Ref­or­ma­tion (NAR). A sel­dom report­ed-on move­ment of Pen­te­costal and charis­mat­ic evan­gel­i­cal­ism that’s play­ing a grow­ing role in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics. NAR holds to a com­pre­hen­sive theo­nom­ic vision, pop­u­lar­ly described as Sev­en Moun­tains Domin­ion­ism, which calls for believ­ers to take con­trol over sev­en lead­ing aspects of soci­ety: fam­i­ly, gov­ern­ment, reli­gion, edu­ca­tion, media, arts and enter­tain­ment, and busi­ness. (The metaphor is some­times used inter­change­ably with spheres, pil­lars, and gates.) Most, but not all, hold to this view, and there’s room for dif­fer­ences because the move­ment seeks uni­ty over doc­tri­nal con­for­mi­ty.

    NAR rejects such con­tem­po­rary denom­i­na­tion­al offices as popes and pres­i­dents, and rec­og­nizes those pre­scribed in the New Tes­ta­ment book of Eph­esians: apos­tle, prophet, teacher, evan­ge­list, and pastor—what they call “the five-fold min­istry.”

    Some well-known Chris­t­ian Right fig­ures in the NAR camp include Don­ald Trump’s spir­i­tu­al advi­sor, Apos­tle Paula White; Texas-based Chris­t­ian Right strate­gist David Bar­ton; Rev. Samuel Rodriguez of the Nation­al His­pan­ic Lead­er­ship Con­fer­ence; and Lt. Gen. William Boykin, (ret.) Exec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent of the Fam­i­ly Research Coun­cil.

    ...

    Shea and Tay­lor aren’t celebri­ty reli­gious lead­ers whose every utter­ance is not­ed by the media. And as tempt­ing as it might be to think of them as too fringey to be con­se­quen­tial, they may be bet­ter thought of as lead­ers in a grow­ing move­ment that’s not only greater than the sum of its parts—but one that has grown in both its capac­i­ty for and its inten­tions towards insur­rec­tionary vio­lence.
    ...

    And they aren’t just lead­ers in this move­ment. They’re bring­ing mil­i­tary oper­a­tional skills. Both Shea and Tay­lor have retired com­bat offi­cers. Beyond that, Shea was at a found­ing meet­ing in 2013 for the Con­sti­tu­tion­al Sher­iffs and Peace Offi­cers Asso­ci­a­tion (CSPOA). Recall how the CSPOA is close­ly asso­ci­at­ed with the Oath Keep­ers and was a major backer of the Bundy fam­i­ly armed stand­offs, which is why we should­n’t be at all sur­prised to find Oath Keep­ers founder Stew­art Rhodes — who was recent­ly indict­ed for his role in the Jan­u­ary 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion — also attend­ed that 2013 CSPOA found­ing meet­ing with Shea:

    ...
    Many lead­ers of the Chris­t­ian Right aren’t house­hold names. But some of them, work­ing in the shad­ows just beyond the nation­al lime­light, pro­vide glimpses into poten­tial reli­gious con­flict in the U.S. These include Shea and Apos­tle Tim Tay­lor of King­dom League Inter­na­tion­al in Wash­ing­ton State, whose sto­ries have con­verged in remark­able ways. Both are retired mil­i­tary com­bat offi­cers who have emerged as non-denom­i­na­tion­al reli­gious lead­ers, bring­ing a cer­tain oper­a­tional poten­tial to the grow­ing mil­i­ta­riza­tion of theo­crat­ic reli­gious visions of the Chris­t­ian Right.

    ...

    Shea may be best known for his involve­ment in plan­ning and help­ing coor­di­nate the dra­mat­ic 2016 seizure and occu­pa­tion of the Mal­heur Nation­al Wildlife Refuge in Ore­gon by armed rightwing activists. For this, he was char­ac­ter­ized as a domes­tic ter­ror­ist in a well-doc­u­ment­ed Decem­ber 2019 inves­ti­ga­tion com­mis­sioned by the state House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. “Shea is an active and influ­en­tial leader of the Patri­ot Move­ment in the US,” the inves­ti­ga­tion con­clud­ed, who “presents a present and grow­ing threat of risk to oth­ers through polit­i­cal vio­lence.”

    Pri­or to the Mal­heur occu­pa­tion, Shea was active­ly engaged in forg­ing rela­tion­ships between law enforce­ment and the Patri­ot Move­ment. In May of 2013, Shea spoke at a found­ing meet­ing of the Con­sti­tu­tion­al Sher­iffs and Peace Offi­cers Asso­ci­a­tion (CSPOA) along with promi­nent Patri­ot and far-right lead­ers includ­ing Stew­art Rhodes, the founder of the Oath Keep­ers (one of the groups respon­si­ble for plan­ning the Capi­tol Insur­rec­tion); Bill Nor­ton of the Tea Par­ty Patri­ots; Lar­ry Pratt, the founder of Gun Own­ers of Amer­i­ca; and Joe Wolver­ton of The John Birch Soci­ety. The fol­low­ing year, he signed a CSPOA res­o­lu­tion vow­ing to not enforce fed­er­al gun restric­tions under the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion.
    ...

    But mil­i­tant orga­niz­ing is just one facet of this net­work. There’s also the grow­ing num­ber of Prayer Cau­cus focused on affect­ing pol­i­tics. Recall how the Con­gres­sion­al Prayer Cau­cus Foun­da­tion (CPCF) is the par­ent orga­ni­za­tion because Project Blitz. It turns out Shea was the found­ing chair­man of the Wash­ing­ton State branch of this net­work, the Wash­ing­ton Leg­isla­tive Prayer Cau­cus. Shea was still list­ed as the chair of the Wash­ing­ton Leg­isla­tive Prayer Cau­cus until 2019, when the CPCF scrubbed all ref­er­ences to Project Blitz-relat­ed activ­i­ties:

    ...
    In 2017 Shea was elect­ed chair of the Repub­li­can Cau­cus. A year lat­er, he became the found­ing chair­man of the Wash­ing­ton Leg­isla­tive Prayer Cau­cus, which is part of a nation­al net­work of state leg­isla­tive prayer cau­cus­es whose leg­isla­tive agen­da is called Project Blitz.

    First report­ed by RD in 2018, Project Blitz pub­lish­es a man­u­al of Chris­t­ian Right mod­el bills for mem­bers of the prayer cau­cus­es. The bills range from requir­ing pub­lic schools to post In God We Trust dis­plays to allow­ing reli­gious exemp­tions for adop­tion and fos­ter care agen­cies opposed to serv­ing LGBTQ peo­ple. (Shea was list­ed as chair until 2019 when the spon­sor­ing nation­al orga­ni­za­tion, the Con­gres­sion­al Prayer Cau­cus Foun­da­tion (CPCF) scrubbed their site of ref­er­ences to Project Blitz in the face of intense pub­lic scruti­ny. The era­sure includ­ed the names of the chairs and mem­bers of the prayer cau­cus­es.)
    ...

    So Shea is close­ly tied to the CPCF nation­al net­work of Prayer Cau­cus­es at the same time he’s also inti­mate­ly con­nect­ed to the New Apos­tolic Ref­or­ma­tion (NAR) branch of Chris­t­ian Domin­ion­ism that calls for the church to take over the “Sev­en Moun­tains” of soci­ety. Because of course he is. As we’ve seen, Project Blitz is deeply moti­vat­ed by the NAR move­ment, includ­ing key GOP the­olo­gian and NAR fol­low­er David Bar­ton. It’s part of what makes the roles of fig­ures like Shea and Tay­lor in the move­ment dif­fi­cult to over­state: like David Bar­ton, they are the­o­log­i­cal lead­ers and not just polit­i­cal orga­niz­ers:

    ...
    Taylor’s King­dom League Inter­na­tion­al web­site declares, “We are a covenan­tal alliance of lead­ers, min­is­ters, church­es, min­istries and net­works col­lab­o­rat­ing togeth­er to mobi­lize the Church as the army of the Lord.” He fur­ther explains, “Our alliance is com­posed of lead­ers rep­re­sent­ing each of the sev­en spheres of soci­ety and the five-fold min­istry.”

    Apos­tle Tay­lor envi­sions and seeks to form “apos­tolic prayer coun­cils” over the Sev­en Moun­tains. He wrote that in Feb­ru­ary 2019, he had met with mem­bers of the Wash­ing­ton Leg­isla­tive Prayer Cau­cus over din­ner at Daniel’s Prayer Min­istry, a block from the state capi­tol in Olympia. The Min­istry is led by Eliz­a­beth Soren­son who also serves as the State Direc­tor of the Prayer Cau­cus.

    They agreed to form an “apostolic/strategic coun­cil” for the moun­tain of state gov­ern­ment. “Last night we made his­to­ry,” Tay­lor declared. Indeed, while such coun­cils exist in some cities and towns around the coun­try, this may be the first such state orga­ni­za­tion. He described the role of the Apos­tolic Coun­cil in a video, “made just for those who’re part of the Wash­ing­ton State Prayer Cau­cus.” It clos­es with a screen shot of Prayer Cau­cus Chair­man Shea tak­en from the Prayer Cau­cus web­site.
    ...

    And it’s that the­o­log­i­cal lead­er­ship Shea has been pro­vid­ing that’s the most dis­turb­ing. Recall the 2018 rev­e­la­tions about a 2016 man­i­festo authored by Shea lay­ing out a Bib­li­cal jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for a Chris­t­ian Nation­al­ist insur­rec­tion. An insur­rec­tion that would include the mass killings of all males unwill­ing to con­vert to the new offi­cial state reli­gion. But it was­n’t just a man­i­festo. It involved active plan­ning with a group of Repub­li­cans on how to sur­veil mem­bers of Antifa with the goal of car­ry­ing out a mass mur­der cam­paign of left­ists. Matt Shea’s thought-lead­er­ship in this move­ment has involved a lot of think­ing about blitzkrieg-style civ­il war sce­nar­ios:

    ...
    Tay­lor and fel­low NAR Apos­tles have estab­lished elab­o­rate prayer net­works to pray for gov­ern­ment offi­cials and to mobi­lize for their pre­ferred poli­cies and elec­toral engage­ments. But there can be an edge to their vision and their strat­e­gy of “spir­i­tu­al war­fare” via prayer to com­bat demons—an edge that could lead to phys­i­cal con­fronta­tion in the polit­i­cal and cul­tur­al bat­tles of our time.

    For exam­ple, there was cer­tain­ly no ques­tion about what Matt Shea had in mind when he authored his 2016 man­i­festo on the Bib­li­cal Basis for War, which reads like a to-do list for reli­gious civ­il war. The inves­ti­ga­tors report­ed that Shea’s “spir­i­tu­al advi­sors,” Bar­ry and Anne Byrd of Mar­ble Com­mu­ni­ty Fel­low­ship, joined fel­low Patri­ots at the secret strat­e­gy meet­ing where Shea pre­sent­ed his man­i­festo, “that offered his view of God’s autho­riza­tion for war.” Shea’s man­i­festo, accord­ing to the report, “advo­cat­ed killing all males who did not yield to stop­ping all abor­tions, sup­port­ed same sex mar­riage, and did not obey Bib­li­cal law. He also assert­ed that ‘Assas­si­na­tion to remove tyrants is just, and is not mur­der.’” (Empha­sis in the orig­i­nal). Shea also dis­trib­uted a blue­print for rebuild­ing after the fall of the US Gov­ern­ment.

    ...

    One aspect of Shea’s plan that was not dis­cussed in the report or sub­se­quent press cov­er­age about the 2016 Bib­li­cal Basis for War was his cryp­tic call for the for­ma­tion of “prayer coun­cils” to deter­mine whether God is call­ing them to war. Shea’s plan was exposed and promi­nent­ly cov­ered in the Wash­ing­ton state media in 2018. Apos­tle Tay­lor nev­er­the­less worked with then-Prayer Cau­cus Chair­man Shea to ini­ti­ate a state prayer coun­cil in Wash­ing­ton in Feb­ru­ary 2019.

    In May, Tay­lor report­ed that the Wash­ing­ton State Apos­tolic Coun­cil prayed for gov­ern­ment offi­cials at all lev­els, but “the Gov­ern­ment Moun­tain” prayed, “LORD if they are not just, then we pray remove them (Psalm 109:8 – let their days be few and anoth­er take their office).”

    This might seem benign to some, but con­text mat­ters. The bib­li­cal King David, the author of the impre­ca­to­ry prayer they invoked, is call­ing on God to destroy his ene­mies and their fam­i­lies. As has been wide­ly dis­cussed, the phrase “let their days be few” is a prayer against their lives, not just their tenure in office.
    ...

    It’s that back­ground of orga­nized polit­i­cal mil­i­tan­cy that should make it no sur­prise at all to learn that this net­work was­n’t just call­ing for a “rev­o­lu­tion” in the lead up to the Jan 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion but was actu­al­ly there. Shea him­self exhort­ed an audi­ence in Ida­ho at a “Stop the Steal” ral­ly to “fight back in every sin­gle sphere we pos­si­bly can,” and to pre­pare for “total war.” And Ken Peters actu­al­ly spoke at a ral­ly in DC on Jan 5. A ral­ly he was able to attend thanks to the gen­eros­i­ty of Mike Lin­dell, one of the core fig­ures behind the ‘stolen elec­tion’ Big Lie:

    ...
    When Rev. Ken Peters left Covenant Church and appoint­ed Shea as his suc­ces­sor in order to plant a Patri­ot Church in Knoxville, Ten­nessee, he explained, “This is God mov­ing gen­er­als around.” There are now Patri­ot church­es in Lynch­burg, VA and Spokane as well. Shea’s Covenant Church in Spokane is an “affil­i­ate.”
    ...

    Just this past March, for exam­ple, Shea host­ed vet­er­an antiabor­tion (and now, abor­tion abo­li­tion­ist) leader Rev. Matthew Trewhel­la on his Patri­ot Radio pod­cast. Trewhel­la first came to nation­al atten­tion in the 1990s as one of three dozen sig­na­to­ries to a state­ment that declared that the mur­der of abor­tion providers is “jus­ti­fi­able homi­cide.” He lat­er became noto­ri­ous for his advo­ca­cy for the for­ma­tion of church-based mili­tias.

    Trewhella’s son-in-law (a pas­tor at his church and a fel­low abor­tion abo­li­tion leader) Jason Storms, has been appoint­ed as the new Nation­al Direc­tor of Oper­a­tion Save Amer­i­ca. OSA was for­mer­ly led by Rev. Phillip (“Flip”) Ben­ham, and then Rev. Rusty Lee Thomas, under whose lead­er­ship it began to mobi­lize for abo­li­tion.

    Storms was among the antiabor­tion lead­ers at the Capi­tol on Jan­u­ary 6th. He called it a “rev­o­lu­tion.”

    Occu­py the last days

    Matt Shea hasn’t changed much since chang­ing jobs. On Insur­rec­tion day, Jan­u­ary 6, he urged peo­ple at a “Stop the Steal” ral­ly in north­ern Ida­ho, to “fight back in every sin­gle sphere we pos­si­bly can,” and to pre­pare for “total war.”

    Mean­while, Ken Peters also issued a bat­tle cry at a pre-insur­rec­tion ral­ly in DC. The Spokane Spokesman-Review report­ed that Mike Lin­dell, the CEO of My Pil­low flew him to DC with like-mind­ed pas­tors on his pri­vate jet and put them up at the Trump Inter­na­tion­al Hotel, a few blocks from the White House.

    But like oth­ers whose rhetoric may have exceed­ed their readi­ness to be asso­ci­at­ed with the events at the capi­tol, Peters lat­er said he didn’t agree with the insur­rec­tion.
    ...

    Next, here’s a look at that Jan 2021 Spokesman Review arti­cle cov­er­ing the strange tale of how Matt Shea’s “Patri­ot Church” ally, Ken Peters, end­ed up speak­ing at a Jan 5 “Stop the Steal” ral­ly in DC thanks to Mike Lin­dell:

    The Spokesman-Review

    Shawn Vestal: Pas­tor who orga­nized anti-abor­tion ral­lies in Spokane helped ral­ly Trump sup­port­ers in D.C.

    By Shawn Vestal
    Wed., Jan. 13, 2021

    The night before the Trump riot at the U.S. Capi­tol, a face that would be famil­iar to many in the Spokane area took the stage in Free­dom Plaza just east of the White House to ral­ly the crowd to rise up against Satan and a “stolen” elec­tion.

    “We are not just up against politi­cians,” said the man, dressed in a ball­cap and sweat­shirt. “We are not just in a cul­ture war. We are in a king­dom war. This is the king­dom of dark­ness ver­sus the king­dom of light.”

    The speak­er was Ken Peters, the for­mer pas­tor of Spokane’s Covenant Church and orga­niz­er of dis­rup­tive protests held out­side Planned Par­ent­hood over the past cou­ple of years. The con­flict over those protests result­ed in a judge order­ing mem­bers of the Church at Planned Par­ent­hood to keep their dis­tance when demon­strat­ing and stop inter­fer­ing with the oper­a­tion of the clin­ic.

    Peters and his church became a locus for right-wing reli­gious polit­i­cal activism in Spokane. After Matt Shea announced he wouldn’t run for a new term in the Leg­is­la­ture, he became Covenant’s pas­tor. Peters has appar­ent­ly moved on to head a church in Knoxville, Ten­nessee, and is help­ing spread TCAPP protests to oth­er cities.

    Many of the peo­ple affil­i­at­ed with the church appear at anti-mask ral­lies, pro-gun events and the recent “Stop the Steal” protests. In videos from the Capi­tol, Peters appears with anoth­er Spokane man who was a reg­u­lar at TCAPP events, Jon Schrock, the pas­tor at Hope Bap­tist in Air­way Heights, and with Joshua Feuer­stein, an incen­di­ary online pas­tor who once claimed Star­bucks was adding abort­ed fetus­es to its cof­fee. Feuer­stein attend­ed a TCAPP ral­ly in Spokane last March.

    The tale of how Peters and his fel­low pas­tors wound up going to the Capi­tol on that vio­lent, trag­ic day is a strange one indeed. There is no rea­son to believe any of them entered the Capi­tol or were direct­ly involved in any vio­lence. Their social media posts open a win­dow on their jour­ney to the Capi­tol, start­ing with zeal­ous opti­mism and end­ing deflat­ed, blam­ing antifa and furi­ous at Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence for not block­ing the elec­tion cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

    At Peters’ speech on the night before the riot­ing, though, it was all rev­o­lu­tion­ary fer­vor.

    “I see a bunch of peo­ple here who say, ‘No, no, we are not going to allow the ene­my to destroy this great land that our fore­fa­thers gave to us!’” he said.

    He exhort­ed them to heed the call of a mod­ern-day Paul Revere: “The left­ists are com­ing! The left­ists are com­ing. The left­ists are com­ing!”

    ‘It’s like testos­terone‘

    In a video post­ed the day after the riot, Peters told the unlike­ly sto­ry of how he end­ed up speak­ing in the nation’s cap­i­tal at the A Prayer to Save Amer­i­ca Ral­ly.

    “Folks,” he said, “you can’t make this up.”

    He attend­ed the Trump ral­ly in Dal­ton, Geor­gia, on Jan. 4, where he said he was invit­ed to speak the next day in D.C. by ral­ly orga­niz­ers. Peters had a prob­lem, though. He’d have to dri­ve all night to make it.

    That was when the My Pil­low guy – CEO and diehard Trump backer Mike Lin­dell – offered to fly him up on his pri­vate plane, he said. Arriv­ing in the cap­i­tal with­out a hotel room, Lin­dell paid to put him up in a cor­ner suite at the Trump Hotel, he said.

    “Unbe­liev­able guy,” Peters said. “He tells the hotel guy, ‘Put him on my tab.’ “

    He told Peters, ” ‘Make sure you get room ser­vice. You bet­ter get room ser­vice.’ “

    The next after­noon, Peters was the final speak­er on the agen­da, and end­ed up hav­ing to cut his remarks down to just a cou­ple of min­utes. But he said he didn’t mind, and was focused on the task at hand: ral­ly­ing peo­ple to resist a coup by left­ist bul­lies who have no morals or con­science.

    “I lit­er­al­ly just asked the holy spir­it to guide me when I got up there,” he said. “I got up there and I was like, ‘Help me, Lord. Help me, Lord.’”

    (A mes­sage sent to the My Pil­low media office in an attempt to con­firm the details of this account was not returned – though pro­mo­tion­al emails from the com­pa­ny have begun show­ing up. Peters also did not answer a mes­sage seek­ing con­fir­ma­tion and fur­ther com­ment.)

    That night, he post­ed on Face­book: “Scared to go to sleep. Last time I did that, some­one stole the elec­tion like a thief in the night.”

    Schrock post­ed his own video from his hotel room that night. He said he had spot­ted some antifa folks out and about in D.C.

    The fol­low­ing morn­ing, Peters post­ed a video, wear­ing a TCAPP knit hat, while he and fel­low pas­tor Shahram Hadi­an got cof­fee before the president’s ral­ly. Hadi­an is a for­mer Mus­lim who has become a noto­ri­ous anti-Islam speak­er around the coun­try; he has appeared in var­i­ous events in this region, includ­ing one appear­ance in 2011 in Coeur d’Alene that left some Repub­li­cans uncom­fort­able with his rhetoric.

    Hadi­an said, “Peo­ple are not just fired up. I think they sense the absolute urgency of the moment, and where the nation is at. … My hunch is the best thing we can hope for from Con­gress is for Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence to push this back to the states.”

    He com­pared their cold morn­ing get­ting cof­fee to Val­ley Forge.

    ...

    Peters turned the cam­era over to Feuer­stein. Feuer­stein is known for a vari­ety of online provo­ca­tions. In 2015, he encour­aged fol­low­ers to harass a Flori­da bak­ery that wouldn’t make him an anti-gay cake. He has post­ed a false sto­ry about Black Lives Mat­ter pro­test­ers killing an elder­ly woman. He once said, “I think it’s time that abor­tion doc­tors should have to run and hide and be afraid for their life.”

    In Peters’ video that morn­ing, he talked about the incred­i­ble “ener­gy” of those who had gath­ered.

    “I feel like patri­ots are final­ly get­ting so irri­tat­ed and so upset that they’re moved to action,” he said. “We’re nev­er going to be able to do any­thing until we’re moved to action. And that’s what’s actu­al­ly tran­spir­ing now. You can feel the patri­o­tism. It’s like testos­terone flow­ing through the veins of an Amer­i­can red-blood­ed male.”

    Peters panned the cam­era to show Schrock beside him, also in a TCAPP hat, and said, “Pray for Mike Pence, man.”

    ‘We’ve been played’

    There aren’t any posts from the men of the ral­ly where the pres­i­dent, his son and oth­ers incit­ed pro­test­ers to head down to the Capi­tol, or from the sub­se­quent protest and riot itself. Peters said cell­phone cov­er­age would be dis­rupt­ed dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial ral­ly.

    Around 1:25 p.m., after the out­er bar­ri­cades had been breached, Peters post­ed pho­tos of the crowds swarm­ing the steps of the Capi­tol.

    “Wow!” he wrote.

    Feuer­stein post­ed his own video to Face­book a few hours lat­er, from his hotel room. Peters was with him dur­ing the video, but said lit­tle.

    This was after the mob had bro­ken into the Capi­tol and before the worst was known – a police offi­cer and four oth­ers dead, win­dows and doors smashed, feces smeared on the walls, a Capi­tol cop tak­ing self­ies with riot­ers, a grim silence from the White House.

    Feuer­stein seemed pri­mar­i­ly furi­ous about the fact that Pence would not refuse to cer­ti­fy the elec­tion, “like the lit­tle cow­ard, the lit­tle swamp mon­ster, the lit­tle slime­ball he is.”

    He had already locat­ed the cul­prits in the riot.

    “I was giv­en intel by Trump’s team that antifa was going to be show­ing up but they were not going to be dressed in their nor­mal gear,” he said. “Because guess what? You’ve got a mil­lion Trump sup­port­ers there. Antifa’s not stu­pid enough to show up with a hun­dred or two hun­dred of them, or even three hun­dred or five hun­dred of them, because they’re going to be smoked.”

    He said MAGA did not storm the Capi­tol. MAGA peo­ple were out­side pray­ing, hav­ing a “church ser­vice,” he said.

    He added, “I do not con­done vio­lence, I do not con­done phys­i­cal vio­lence … I’m not for polit­i­cal vio­lence until there needs to be polit­i­cal vio­lence.”

    He went on, “We do have to stand up. Pence has turned out to be a cow­ard­ly lit­tle back­stab­bing sis­sy. Pence is a lit­tle, just piece of trash, such a piece of trash. Ugh. So flip­ping frus­trat­ing to see that jack­wad pre­tend to be a con­ser­v­a­tive when it ben­e­fits him, and then he turns around and – it’s not just that he stabbed Trump in the back. He stabbed we the peo­ple in the back. … Man, Pence, you def­i­nite­ly are not the Chris­t­ian we thought you were. You’re not the con­ser­v­a­tive or the patri­ot we thought you were.”

    That after­noon, Peters post­ed a video of the crowd bash­ing in a win­dow at the Capi­tol. In the video, you hear a voice shout­ing, “Antifa!”

    “CAUGHT!!” Peters wrote. “Watch Antifa break­ing a win­dow while Trump Sup­port­ers … cheer when MAGA guy stops him. We’ve been played.”

    A lat­er post: “If you think you saw evil today, just wait until you see the evil that a Left­ist Pres­i­dent, House and Sen­ate will unleash. Fight for Trump and Pray.”

    Then anoth­er: “I blame Pence for a lot of things today.”

    ...

    A few days lat­er, he post­ed a joke: “I had tick­ets for the big game in DC … The Patri­ots vs the Steal­ers. It was Epic.”

    The day after the riots, Schrock post­ed, “Protests are meant to make peo­ple feel uncom­fort­able and pres­sured!!!”

    Feuer­stein, mean­while, has been putting up con­tro­ver­sial tweets and tag­ging Twit­ter in an appar­ent effort to get him­self banned. He tweet­ed, “Homo­sex­u­al­i­ty is a sin,” and called Muhammed a pedophile.

    And this: “Mr. Pres­i­dent, you have near­ly 100 mil­lion armed patri­ots in your cor­ner. Say the word.”

    ———-

    “Shawn Vestal: Pas­tor who orga­nized anti-abor­tion ral­lies in Spokane helped ral­ly Trump sup­port­ers in D.C.” by Shawn Vestal; The Spokesman-Review; 01/13/2021

    The speak­er was Ken Peters, the for­mer pas­tor of Spokane’s Covenant Church and orga­niz­er of dis­rup­tive protests held out­side Planned Par­ent­hood over the past cou­ple of years. The con­flict over those protests result­ed in a judge order­ing mem­bers of the Church at Planned Par­ent­hood to keep their dis­tance when demon­strat­ing and stop inter­fer­ing with the oper­a­tion of the clin­ic.”

    A day before the insur­rec­tion, Ken Peters was in DC ral­ly­ing a crowd at a “Stop the Steal” protest, mak­ing a speech filled with rev­o­lu­tion­ary fer­vor:

    ...
    “We are not just up against politi­cians,” said the man, dressed in a ball­cap and sweat­shirt. “We are not just in a cul­ture war. We are in a king­dom war. This is the king­dom of dark­ness ver­sus the king­dom of light.”

    ...

    Many of the peo­ple affil­i­at­ed with the church appear at anti-mask ral­lies, pro-gun events and the recent “Stop the Steal” protests. In videos from the Capi­tol, Peters appears with anoth­er Spokane man who was a reg­u­lar at TCAPP events, Jon Schrock, the pas­tor at Hope Bap­tist in Air­way Heights, and with Joshua Feuer­stein, an incen­di­ary online pas­tor who once claimed Star­bucks was adding abort­ed fetus­es to its cof­fee. Feuer­stein attend­ed a TCAPP ral­ly in Spokane last March.

    The tale of how Peters and his fel­low pas­tors wound up going to the Capi­tol on that vio­lent, trag­ic day is a strange one indeed. There is no rea­son to believe any of them entered the Capi­tol or were direct­ly involved in any vio­lence. Their social media posts open a win­dow on their jour­ney to the Capi­tol, start­ing with zeal­ous opti­mism and end­ing deflat­ed, blam­ing antifa and furi­ous at Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence for not block­ing the elec­tion cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

    At Peters’ speech on the night before the riot­ing, though, it was all rev­o­lu­tion­ary fer­vor.

    “I see a bunch of peo­ple here who say, ‘No, no, we are not going to allow the ene­my to destroy this great land that our fore­fa­thers gave to us!’” he said.

    He exhort­ed them to heed the call of a mod­ern-day Paul Revere: “The left­ists are com­ing! The left­ists are com­ing. The left­ists are com­ing!”
    ...

    And if it had­n’t been for the seem­ing­ly spon­ta­neous gen­eros­i­ty of Mike Lin­dell, who offered to fly Peters up to DC on his pri­vate plane and put him up in a hotel in DC. Peters was even giv­en the final speak­ing slot on the agen­da, a sign that the “Stop the Steal” orga­niz­ers real­ly val­ued hav­ing him there:

    ...
    He attend­ed the Trump ral­ly in Dal­ton, Geor­gia, on Jan. 4, where he said he was invit­ed to speak the next day in D.C. by ral­ly orga­niz­ers. Peters had a prob­lem, though. He’d have to dri­ve all night to make it.

    That was when the My Pil­low guy – CEO and diehard Trump backer Mike Lin­dell – offered to fly him up on his pri­vate plane, he said. Arriv­ing in the cap­i­tal with­out a hotel room, Lin­dell paid to put him up in a cor­ner suite at the Trump Hotel, he said.

    ...

    The next after­noon, Peters was the final speak­er on the agen­da, and end­ed up hav­ing to cut his remarks down to just a cou­ple of min­utes. But he said he didn’t mind, and was focused on the task at hand: ral­ly­ing peo­ple to resist a coup by left­ist bul­lies who have no morals or con­science.

    “I lit­er­al­ly just asked the holy spir­it to guide me when I got up there,” he said. “I got up there and I was like, ‘Help me, Lord. Help me, Lord.’”
    ...

    Again, don’t for­get about the ties between Matt Shea, the CSPOA, and the Oath Keep­ers. Giv­en the lead role the Oath Keep­ers played in the insur­rec­tion, it’s hard to imag­ine Shea was­n’t at least aware of what they had in mind.

    And that’s all why the inves­ti­ga­tors of the Jan 6 insur­rec­tion should prob­a­bly be expand­ing their inves­tiga­tive net to include Matt Shea’s cell of mil­i­tant Chris­t­ian Nation­al­ists. Again, Matt Shea may be on the GOP fringe, but it’s cut­ting-edge fringe. Yes, Shea may have been tech­ni­cal­ly kicked out of the GOP in 2019 over accu­sa­tions of plot­ting domes­tic ter­ror­ism, but let’s face it. That was 2019. Some­one with Shea’s domes­tic ter­ror­ist pedi­gree was prob­a­bly quite pop­u­lar in cer­tain cir­cles in the months lead­ing up to the Jan 6 insur­rec­tion. The GOP has a very dif­fer­ent atti­tude regard­ing domes­tic ter­ror­ism these days, after all. At least as long as it’s domes­tic ter­ror­ism that some­how leaves fas­cists in charge.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 30, 2022, 11:00 pm
  10. Did you know that the ear­ly bat­tles in the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War were almost all “noth­ing more than pas­tors lead­ing their church­es in the bat­tle.” No? Did you also know that the rea­son the US was cho­sen by God as a divine­ly ordained nation was due to its ded­i­ca­tion to free-mar­ket cap­i­tal­ism? Well, you would have known about these fun facts if it was­n’t for the ero­sion of the US pub­lic edu­ca­tion sys­tem that offers AP US His­to­ry Cours­es obscur­ing the insep­a­ra­ble nature of the US Con­sti­tu­tion and the Bible.

    These are the kinds of lessons that were being shared at a Chan­til­ly, Vir­ginia, Church in Fair­fax Coun­ty last Sep­tem­ber at the Com­mu­ni­ty Bap­tist Church. This was months before Repub­li­can Glenn Youngkin pulled off an upset vic­to­ry that relied heav­i­ly on exact­ly the kind of hyper­ven­ti­lat­ing about “Crit­i­cal Race The­o­ry” and a per­ceived attack on white peo­ple that forms the core of the large “Project Blitz” nation­al strat­e­gy for fuel­ing and then weaponiz­ing Chris­t­ian griev­ances for polit­i­cal pur­pos­es.

    But the audi­ence was­n’t reg­u­lar church goers. It was most­ly pas­tors, who were there to hear a series of speak­ers share their views on the urgent need for these pas­tors to do every­thing they can to ensure all of their mem­bers vote if pos­si­ble. An urgency dri­ven by...wait for it...the loom­ing takeover of the US by the god­less Left who stole the 2020 elec­tion from Don­ald Trump and are plan­ning on steal­ing it again. At least that was part of the mes­sage. There were also his­to­ry lessons, like the one from Tim Bar­ton — son of CNP mem­ber and key Repub­li­can theo­crat David Bar­ton — who shared with the audi­ence the appar­ent lead role church mili­tias played dur­ing the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War.

    Anoth­er speak­er at the even was CNP Mem­ber Chad Con­nel­ly, who is also the Founder & Pres­i­dent of Faith Wins, an orga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cat­ed to orga­niz­ing con­ser­v­a­tive pas­tors to get out the vote for Trump in 2020. Key financ­ing for Faith Wins came from the Lind­sey Foun­da­tion, the fam­i­ly foun­da­tion for Joan Lind­sey and her hus­band, James B. Lind­sey, an heir to a Pep­si for­tune. Joan is also a CNP Mem­ber. Every year over the past decade, the Lind­sey Foun­da­tion has donat­ed hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars to orga­ni­za­tions such as the Fam­i­ly Research Coun­cil, Focus on the Fam­i­ly, David Bar­ton’s Wall­Builders, and a faith-based media com­pa­ny called Mas­ter­me­dia Inter­na­tion­al, and less­er amounts to oth­er groups like the CNP. In oth­er words, a Pep­si heir is a lead­ing financier of con­tem­po­rary Chris­t­ian fas­cism. Watch out Pub­lix, you have com­pe­ti­tion in the fas­cist-heir-coup-plot­ting depart­ment.

    The last speak­er at this event was for­mer deputy press sec­re­tary in the Trump White House Hogan Gid­ley. Gid­ley pro­ceed­ed to use his time to reit­er­ate all of the fan­tasies about how, yes, there real­ly was com­pelling evi­dence of a mas­sive stolen elec­tion.

    It’s just one ran­dom polit­i­cal event in Vir­ginia, a cou­ple months before an off-year elec­tion. But it was­n’t ran­dom. It was part of a larg­er nation­al strat­e­gy financed by groups like the Lind­sey Foun­da­tion with a mis­sion to rad­i­cal­ize the US’s con­ser­v­a­tive cler­gy and fuel them with a right­eous rage. The kind of right­eous rage that will leave these cler­gy ready to lead their flock in an bat­tle of Good and Evil. Specif­i­cal­ly, the bat­tle to get Trump reelect­ed in 2024 elec­tion. Church mili­tias might be need­ed in this upcom­ing bat­tle of Good and Evil, appar­ent­ly:

    The New Repub­lic

    The Shock Troops of the Next Big Lie
    How the Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist movement’s well-fund­ed strate­gists are aim­ing at vot­ers in Vir­ginia and beyond for 2024

    Kather­ine Stew­art
    Jan­u­ary 10, 2022

    On a stretch of ver­dant land just north of Sycamore Canyon Road in Mon­tecito, Cal­i­for­nia, the homes of the mere­ly rich give way to the homes of the tru­ly rich. There, with­in shout­ing dis­tance of the 18,000-square-foot home that Prince Har­ry and Meghan Markle pur­chased from a vil­lain­ous Russ­ian oli­garch, you will find the res­i­dence of Joan Lind­sey and her hus­band, James B. Lind­sey, an heir to a Pep­si for­tune. “It’s part pri­vate park, part sanc­tu­ary,” a write-up in Forbes pants. “Alto­geth­er, it’s a com­pound for the ages.” Mira Vista—an estate of this cal­iber nat­u­ral­ly has a name—was recent­ly list­ed for sale at $72.5 mil­lion.

    But Mira Vista is some­thing more than a home. It was also list­ed as the address of the James and Joan Lind­sey Fam­i­ly Foun­da­tion. A search of the foundation’s pub­lic reports appears to turn up, pro­por­tion­al­ly speak­ing, lit­tle of the kind of com­mu­ni­ty-cen­tered phil­an­thropy char­ac­ter­is­tic of oth­er wealthy locals. Instead, the records show a vast and steady flow of con­tri­bu­tions to lead­ing orga­ni­za­tions in America’s Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist move­ment. Every year over the past decade, the Lind­sey Foun­da­tion has donat­ed hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars to orga­ni­za­tions such as the Fam­i­ly Research Coun­cil, Focus on the Fam­i­ly, Wall­Builders, and a faith-based media com­pa­ny called Mas­ter­me­dia Inter­na­tion­al, and less­er amounts to oth­er groups like the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy, a net­work­ing group for move­ment lead­er­ship.

    “We are a Chris­t­ian coun­try. And the Founders were—def­i­nite­ly—and our found­ing doc­u­ments were writ­ten under prayer each day of the writ­ing,” Joan Lind­sey has said. On the eve of the 2020 elec­tion, she announced that “this elec­tion will either pre­serve faith’s sacred place in our coun­try or destroy it.”

    From 2019 to 2020, the Lind­sey Foun­da­tion fun­neled at least $500,000 to a new orga­ni­za­tion, Faith Wins, intend­ed to mobi­lize pas­tors at con­ser­v­a­tive church­es to bring out the pro-Trump Repub­li­can vote. Faith Wins is part of a Lind­sey-backed coali­tion called The Church Finds Its Voice. In many respects, the Lind­seys’ invest­ment in Faith Wins and The Church Finds Its Voice fol­lows a long-stand­ing pat­tern in the Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist move­ment of back­ing projects to turn America’s net­work of tens of thou­sands of con­ser­v­a­tive church­es into a pow­er­ful par­ti­san polit­i­cal machine.

    But there is also some­thing nov­el in the Faith Wins project, and it sheds much light on the direc­tion of the move­ment in the after­math of the Trump pres­i­den­cy. Unlike pre-Trump get-out-the-pas­tors projects, Faith Wins has made con­cerns about “elec­tions integri­ty” a cen­tral part of the mes­sage for its tar­get audi­ence. The pre­tense is that this is intend­ed to shore up pub­lic con­fi­dence in elec­tions. The real­i­ty is that the group is con­scious­ly help­ing to lay the foun­da­tions for the next iter­a­tion of the Big Lie. If Trump runs again, and if the Big Lie works next time around in secur­ing him the pres­i­den­cy, Faith Wins and its col­lab­o­ra­tors will have played a crit­i­cal role in mak­ing it hap­pen.

    *****

    Chan­til­ly, Vir­ginia, sits on the edge of Fair­fax Coun­ty, a pros­per­ous, D.C.-adjacent region pock­et­ed with res­i­den­tial sub­di­vi­sions. On a Thurs­day morn­ing in late Sep­tem­ber, at the Com­mu­ni­ty Bap­tist Church, a mid­size church built in the 1990s, a crowd of about 50 indi­vid­u­als, most­ly pas­tors, most of them men, break­fasts on Chick-fil‑A sand­wich­es. A Repub­li­can can­di­date for the Vir­ginia House of Del­e­gates is there to work the room, as is a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the cam­paign of Glenn Youngkin, the pre­vi­ous co-CEO of the Car­lyle Group who went on to upset Ter­ry McAu­li­ffe in the 2021 Vir­ginia guber­na­to­r­i­al elec­tion.

    Chad Con­nel­ly bounds onto the stage burst­ing with ener­gy. “We are in the mid­dle of doing over 40 cities, just like this, in 16 states between Labor Day and Thanks­giv­ing,” he says breath­less­ly. He rat­tles off some sta­tis­tics from an ear­li­er leg of his “Amer­i­can Restora­tion Tour”: 89 meet­ings with 2,965 pas­tors across the coun­try who com­mand flocks total­ing 741,000 poten­tial vot­ers.

    A for­mer chair of the South Car­oli­na Repub­li­can Par­ty and direc­tor of faith engage­ment under Reince Priebus at the Repub­li­can Nation­al Com­mit­tee for four years, Con­nel­ly is both a polit­i­cal vet­er­an and a key play­er in the Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist move­ment. He serves on the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy, where he sits on the board of gov­er­nors, and where Joan Lind­sey is a Gold Cir­cle mem­ber. The coun­cil was found­ed by Paul Weyrich, Tim LaHaye, and oth­ers at the dawn of the Rea­gan era. Today, it is the appa­ra­tus con­nect­ing the “doers and the donors,” as the father of Bet­sy DeVos’s hus­band, Rich DeVos, put it, of the Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist and con­ser­v­a­tive polit­i­cal machine.

    “You’re about to hear a pre­sen­ta­tion that’s going to ele­vate your abil­i­ty to under­stand what’s going on, and it’s also going to inspire you to say, ‘I’m not doing enough,’” Con­nel­ly says, his voice cheer­ful but firm. “Every­body you know needs to have vot­ed. Every­body you know needs to go vote ear­ly. Every church you know needs to do vot­er reg­is­tra­tion. Every pas­tor you know needs to make sure 100 per­cent of the peo­ple in their pews are vot­ing and vot­ing bib­li­cal val­ues.” As in most Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist gath­er­ings, “vot­ing bib­li­cal val­ues” is a trans­par­ent euphemism for vot­ing Repub­li­can.

    Con­nel­ly hap­pi­ly makes clear that his work owes much to the gen­eros­i­ty of Joan Lind­sey and her fam­i­ly foun­da­tion. “Joan Lind­sey just start­ed talk­ing to me about this,” Con­nel­ly tells the crowd. “So a cou­ple years ago we real­ly start­ed this thing called The Church Finds Its Voice.” He nods. “If y’all have ever seen Chris­t­ian lead­ers on tele­vi­sion, Joan Lindsey’s like­ly trained ’em. She’s a media guru. An expert.”

    There is a part of Connelly’s mes­sage, both here and in his social media pres­ence, that will be famil­iar to any­one who has tak­en in a min­i­mum dose of Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist rhetoric. “This is a cru­cial time in our nation’s his­to­ry,” he says, strik­ing the first chord in a well-rehearsed song about the exis­ten­tial neces­si­ty of elec­toral vic­to­ry. “Is this our 1776 moment, or is it 1944?” he says. “I’ve nev­er vot­ed for a pro-death per­son. Nev­er vot­ed for any­body of any stripe that was OK with killing a baby in a mommy’s tum­my.” In Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist cir­cles today, every elec­tion is a con­test against absolute evil, and the con­se­quences of fail­ure almost too dire to imag­ine.

    Inevitably, the per­se­cu­tion nar­ra­tive fol­lows close­ly on the apoc­a­lypse nar­ra­tive. At the height of the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic, Faith Wins wrote, “gov­ern­ment lead­ers decided—in their flawed wisdom—that church gath­er­ings were not ‘essen­tial’ to soci­ety. You heard that right.” In reli­gious right cir­cles, Chris­t­ian con­ser­v­a­tives are often cast as the most per­se­cut­ed group in Amer­i­can soci­ety and may soon be arrest­ed for their beliefs.

    The refrain of this famil­iar song con­trasts dire cir­cum­stances in the present with the gold­en age of yore. “This place has been ordained by God,” Con­nel­ly said in a Sep­tem­ber 2020 pod­cast episode, “when the Founders deter­mined that of course they were read­ing the Bible and they were believ­ers of the word of God. And so Amer­i­ca became unique and spe­cial because the Founders under­stood that the found­ing had to tie into God.”

    As in most ver­sions of the song, the tran­si­tion from the Chris­t­ian nation myth to rad­i­cal free-mar­ket doc­trine is seam­less. Accord­ing to Con­nel­ly, the sec­ond rea­son for America’s unique­ness and spe­cial­ness “is the free-mar­ket sys­tem, which of course is God’s bib­li­cal econ­o­my.” Next comes the fear and loathing. “There’s a far left now that doesn’t believe in God, they’re god­less com­plete­ly. They believe the state is the supreme being,” Con­nel­ly says on the pod­cast. “It’s actu­al­ly a god­less, com­mu­nis­tic, Marx­ist style of gov­ern­ment.”

    With­in the Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist move­ment in gen­er­al, there is lit­tle curios­i­ty about the polit­i­cal oppo­si­tion, and still less effort to under­stand it on its own terms. Democ­rats are simply—and some­times literally—represented as demon­ic. “You are los­ing free­doms every day in this nation. They’re being tak­en away like crazy,” Con­nel­ly tells the Chan­til­ly crowd. “The Con­sti­tu­tion has been dis­card­ed and tossed aside very quick­ly. And when you lose the lit­tle free­doms, you already lost the big ones and didn’t even rec­og­nize it. And it’s hap­pen­ing at a record pace.”

    The bot­tom line for Connelly—hardly sur­pris­ing giv­en his past as a Repub­li­can Par­ty operative—is to har­vest votes. More pre­cise­ly, his goal is to get the pas­tors present to har­vest the votes. The Faith Wins web­site encour­ages atten­dees of the events to take a “Faith Pledge,” which includes vot­ing in the upcom­ing elec­tion, and instructs its peo­ple to “inform fel­low Chris­tians about issues that impact our faith and fam­i­lies” and “encour­age fel­low Chris­tians to vote their val­ues on Elec­tion Day.” Pas­tors are giv­en a QR code, along with an online form, which lead to a suite of tools and mes­sag­ing mate­ri­als, includ­ing vot­er guides, vot­er reg­is­tra­tion resources, and videos they can use to acti­vate their con­gre­ga­tions.

    Run­ning through Connelly’s Chan­til­ly pre­sen­ta­tion and his media appear­ances, how­ev­er, is the new defin­ing theme in the post-Trump era: “elec­tions integri­ty.” The point, of course, is to con­vey the fright­en­ing but entire­ly unsub­stan­ti­at­ed belief that vast plots are afoot to steal Repub­li­can votes. The same theme is also show­ing up in some of the new­er state-lev­el con­ser­v­a­tive orga­ni­za­tions such as the Vir­ginia Project, which describes its mis­sion as “lead­ing the charge to uncov­er evi­dence of elec­tion manip­u­la­tion, irreg­u­lar­i­ties, and vot­er fraud in Vir­ginia,” and has referred to Democ­rats as “rats.” Vote ear­ly, the group’s mail­ings insist—because that way “your name is marked as vot­ed and no one can claim to be you and steal your vote.”

    Con­nel­ly hits all the key mes­sage points in his talk. “We can­not sit on the side­lines and let our­selves get kicked in the teeth, and guess what, it’s hap­pen­ing. Like Novem­ber the fourth,” he says in Chan­til­ly, allud­ing to the 2020 elec­tion. By “kicked in the teeth,” it is clear from his expres­sion that he doesn’t mean that Trump was defeat­ed; he means that Trump was cheat­ed.

    **********

    Fol­low­ing Con­nel­ly at the podi­um is Tim Bar­ton, son of David Bar­ton, founder of the Wall­Builders orga­ni­za­tion and one of the Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist movement’s most influ­en­tial activists. Wall­Builders presents itself as “ded­i­cat­ed to pre­sent­ing America’s for­got­ten his­to­ry and heroes, with an empha­sis on the moral, reli­gious, and con­sti­tu­tion­al foun­da­tion on which Amer­i­ca was built—a foun­da­tion which, in recent years, has been seri­ous­ly attacked and under­mined.”

    In Chan­til­ly, we are told that David Bar­ton has tak­en ill, but his son Tim dis­pos­es him­self in a man­ner that would make his father proud, offer­ing the usu­al litany of Bar­tonesque half-truths and mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions of U.S. his­to­ry. America’s Founders were one and all “believ­ers,” accord­ing to Tim Bar­ton, and the Con­sti­tu­tion comes straight from the Bible. And an Advanced Place­ment U.S. his­to­ry course for high school stu­dents, Bar­ton adds for good mea­sure, is just lib­er­al pro­pa­gan­da aim­ing to under­mine America’s god­ly her­itage.

    Tim Bar­ton is par­tic­u­lar­ly keen to empha­size a cer­tain, idio­syn­crat­ic aspect of Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist mythol­o­gy. His father, David Bar­ton, has long been obsessed with the image of America’s Colo­nial-era priests tear­ing off their robes, becom­ing sol­diers, and lead­ing their con­gre­ga­tions out into mil­i­tary bat­tle. He and Wall­Builders cre­at­ed a group of activist con­ser­v­a­tive cler­gy called the Black Robe Reg­i­ment. “I can go down the list of dozens of pas­tors who led their con­gre­ga­tions to oppose the British because they open fired on us, they declared war on us,” Tim Bar­ton says. Refer­ring to the bat­tles of Lex­ing­ton, Bunker Hill, and Con­cord, he adds, “Almost every one of these ear­ly bat­tles, it was noth­ing more than pas­tors lead­ing their church­es in the bat­tle.”

    The con­cern with mas­cu­line mil­i­tary virtue, though always a part of the move­ment, has become a sig­na­ture fea­ture of the Trump and post-Trump era. For exam­ple, Tony Perkins, head of the Fam­i­ly Research Coun­cil, has recent­ly formed a part­ner­ship with retired Lt. Gen. William Boykin, who for­mer­ly served at the Cen­tral Intel­li­gence Agency and has played a role in nur­tur­ing Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist net­works in the mil­i­tary and among “dis­as­ter relief” NGOs abroad. The pair have helped lead a men’s min­istry called Stand Coura­geous to help men “make com­mit­ments that will move men clos­er to God’s good pur­pose and design—men who will Stand Coura­geous!” At Stand Coura­geous gath­er­ings across the coun­try, mas­culin­i­ty, patri­archy, and mil­i­tarism are the name of reli­gion itself. “We need men to be men, tough with com­pas­sion­ate strength, bent toward jus­tice with­out com­pro­mise, lock­ing arms and stand­ing,” the group’s mate­ri­als declare. “We need to be the men God cre­at­ed us to be; war­riors for all that is right, true, and just.”

    In the pre-Trump era, report­ing on this kind of mil­i­tary rhetoric was inevitably greet­ed with a shrug and the excuse that it was, after all, mere­ly rhetoric. After Jan­u­ary 6, 2021, it’s dif­fi­cult to hear it in the same way.

    ********

    Before intro­duc­ing the next speak­er, Con­nel­ly urges mem­bers to steep them­selves in Barton’s work and ideas, “So you can erase this non­sense we’re hear­ing out there from school boards, that nobody want God to be involved. That’s insane.” He con­tin­ues: “This time we can­not sit back. I know y’all are doing a phe­nom­e­nal job in Loudoun Coun­ty of say­ing to the school board ‘enough’s enough.’” No doubt, Con­nel­ly is refer­ring to the aggres­sion and chaos that right-wing activists have brought to school board meet­ings in Loudoun Coun­ty, Vir­ginia, and beyond—a con­tin­u­a­tion of the right’s long-stand­ing effort to under­mine pub­lic edu­ca­tion. “If you have not been to a school board meet­ing, you should be,” Con­nel­ly says.

    Hogan Gid­ley, who worked as the deputy press sec­re­tary in the Trump White House and is rep­re­sent­ed as an “elec­tions expert,” is the final fea­tured speak­er of today’s pre­sen­ta­tion. It is his pres­ence on the agen­da that brings the sub­text of the meet­ing out into the open. “The Cen­ter for Elec­tion Integri­ty that Chad men­tioned, it’s non­par­ti­san,” Gid­ley announces. Then he prompt­ly offers the kind of mis­in­for­ma­tion that pass­es for wis­dom in the Trump­ist incar­na­tion of the Repub­li­can Par­ty. “You saw the stuff in Ari­zona, you’re going to see more stuff in Wis­con­sin; these are sig­nif­i­cant issues, and they can’t be dis­missed out of hand any­more, the facts are too glar­ing,” he says.

    Remark­ably, he is refer­ring to the cir­cus­like, GOP-backed audit of votes in Arizona’s largest coun­ty, which, after dis­cred­it­ing itself with its bizarre antics, man­aged only to con­firm that Biden won Ari­zona by more votes than pre­vi­ous­ly thought. But the nar­ra­tive of per­se­cu­tion is too valu­able in acti­vat­ing the base to dis­card sim­ply because it’s not true. “Any office­hold­er who allows it to hap­pen should be held account­able, not to men­tion the fact that if we find some­one com­mit­ting fraud, they’ve bro­ken the law, and they have to face a penal­ty as well,” says Gid­ley. In time, he launch­es into a well-worn con­spir­a­cy about the so-called ceme­tery vote. He says: “About two mil­lion dead peo­ple are list­ed on vot­er rolls right now.... We saw some­thing new in this last elec­tion. Dead peo­ple didn’t just vote. They request­ed mail-in bal­lots, filled them out, and some­how got them into the drop box.”

    Per­haps the most alarm­ing aspect of the Chan­til­ly expe­ri­ence is the crowd’s response. Mur­murs of out­rage punc­tu­ate the room as they seem to take in the mis­in­for­ma­tion. “This last year was rough … if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu. You’ve got­ta be in the room,” Gid­ley says, wrap­ping up his talk. On the way out, he takes a swing at oth­er tar­gets of right-wing griev­ance and ties them to the elec­tion fraud myth. “We’ve seen this with crit­i­cal race the­o­ry,” he nods sage­ly. We are giv­en to under­stand that per­vert­ing the minds of school­child­ren comes just as nat­u­ral­ly to Democ­rats as steal­ing elec­tions. But Gid­ley choos­es to end on a high note: “I have nev­er seen peo­ple more engaged than they are right now.”

    ***********

    The ques­tion that Trump’s attempt­ed coup rais­es is how such a seem­ing­ly improb­a­ble event was even pos­si­ble in the first place. Dur­ing the Water­gate cri­sis, after all, the coun­try and both major par­ties unit­ed against a pres­i­dent whose alleged crimes would hard­ly have made the news over the past five years. How is it that in 2020 a pres­i­dent could refuse to accept a clear elec­toral defeat and face no con­se­quences from his sup­port­ers, his par­ty, or the legal sys­tem? How could so many peo­ple embrace such a trans­par­ent lie in the face of so much pub­licly avail­able evi­dence? What could pos­si­bly moti­vate some mem­bers of Con­gress to exon­er­ate an attack that not only was insti­gat­ed to sub­vert the elec­toral process but also put some of their own lives in dan­ger?

    There are of course many over­lap­ping expla­na­tions for the recent trans­for­ma­tion of Amer­i­can polit­i­cal life. But the one that remains under­ap­pre­ci­at­ed in the present moment is the role of the Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist move­ment in estab­lish­ing the nec­es­sary pre­con­di­tions for the kind of coup that Trump attempt­ed.

    The essen­tial precondition—more impor­tant than mon­ey, more impor­tant than media, more impor­tant even than will­ing liars in high pub­lic office—is the exis­tence of a sub­stan­tial base of sup­port­ers primed to embrace a big lie. With­out lead­ers’ coor­di­nat­ed efforts to indoc­tri­nate such a base, no lie can take hold. To cre­ate such a base, four key steps are nec­es­sary.

    Step one is to build an infor­ma­tion bub­ble with­in which the base may be main­tained in a state of fact-denial. Much atten­tion has cor­rect­ly been placed on right-wing media in cre­at­ing such a safe space for con­ser­v­a­tives, but not enough atten­tion has been paid to the con­ser­v­a­tive net­works that sup­ply the back­bone of the Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist move­ment. Orga­ni­za­tions like Faith Wins aim at pas­tors because they know that, for their tar­get vot­ers, pas­tors and reli­gious com­mu­ni­ties are often the most trust­ed sources of infor­ma­tion.

    Step two is that this base must be con­di­tioned to expect an immi­nent, cat­a­clysmic event that will threat­en every­thing it val­ues. The apoc­a­lyp­ti­cism and the per­se­cu­tion com­plex of the move­ment are per­fect­ly suit­ed to the task.

    A third step is to trans­fer the per­ceived source of polit­i­cal legit­i­ma­cy from demo­c­ra­t­ic process­es like elec­tions to “high­er” author­i­ties that alleged­ly rep­re­sent the “true” spir­it of the nation. This of course is the device through which a minor­i­ty of the coun­try can come to believe that it has a prov­i­den­tial role in rul­ing the whole. As Steve Ban­non said at a ral­ly in sup­port of Glenn Young­kin, which was held on Octo­ber 13 in Rich­mond, Vir­ginia, “We’re putting togeth­er a coali­tion that’s gonna gov­ern for 100 years.”

    The final step is to do what Trump did start­ing in 2019: under­mine at every oppor­tu­ni­ty pub­lic con­fi­dence in the results of the next elec­tion. In a sense, the coup attempt began on nation­al tele­vi­sion dur­ing the first pres­i­den­tial debate, when Trump made clear that he would not accept the results of the elec­tion if he lost. At Bannon’s ral­ly for Youngkin, Trump called in and said, “We won in 2016. We won in 2020—the most cor­rupt elec­tion in the his­to­ry of our coun­try, prob­a­bly one of the most cor­rupt any­where. But we’re gonna win it again.”

    In the imme­di­ate after­math of the coup attempt that began with Trump’s refusal to accept defeat in Novem­ber 2020, it appeared to many out­side observers that the Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist move­ment faced a quandary. If they rec­og­nized the actu­al results of the elec­tion and sup­port­ed the order­ly trans­fer of pow­er in our con­sti­tu­tion­al democ­ra­cy, they would also have to acknowl­edge that “God’s Pres­i­dent” was a liar and a plot­ter.

    This proved to be a tough deci­sion for at least a few reli­gious right lead­ers, and the move­ment at first appeared to divide and waf­fle. The promi­nent evan­gel­i­cal pas­tor Robert Jef­fress, for instance, acknowl­edged in an opin­ion piece for Fox News that it appeared Joe Biden would become the forty-sixth pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States and urged his fol­low­ers to pray for him. A larg­er num­ber, how­ev­er, played along with the Big Lie.

    Mat Staver, chair­man and founder of Lib­er­ty Coun­sel, said, “What we are wit­ness­ing only hap­pens in com­mu­nist or repres­sive regimes. We must not allow this fraud to hap­pen in Amer­i­ca.” Michele Bach­mann called Biden’s win a “delu­sion”; and Richard Antall, writ­ing for Cri­sis mag­a­zine, a con­ser­v­a­tive Roman Catholic pub­li­ca­tion, likened report­ing on Biden’s win to a “coup d’état.” In response to news of the elec­tion out­come, Ken­neth Copeland laughed deri­sive­ly. “Yeah, he’s going to be pres­i­dent, and Mick­ey Mouse is going to be king,” he said.

    Trump’s attempt to sub­vert the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of the Elec­toral Col­lege results by incit­ing an attack on the U.S. Capi­tol on Jan­u­ary 6 at first appeared to ampli­fy the quandary. Right-wing preach­ers, such as Greg Locke and Ken Peters, played a sig­nif­i­cant role in ril­ing up the crowd in the days and hours pre­ced­ing the riot, and Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist sym­bol­ism was all over the event. Move­ment lead­ers now had to decide whether their cause would get behind an armed attempt to over­throw the U.S. gov­ern­ment.

    From a dis­tance of a year, though, it has become clear that the quandary was a mirage. Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist lead­ers are, if any­thing, even more com­mit­ted to Trump­ist pol­i­tics than they were in Jan­u­ary 2021. My Faith Votes, a faith-based vot­er mobi­liza­tion orga­ni­za­tion, for exam­ple, launched an ini­tia­tive called “Elec­tion Integri­ty Now.” The group issued a prayer guide with a sev­en-point plan for ask­ing God “to pro­tect Amer­i­can elec­tions and deliv­er trust­wor­thy results.”

    At a min­i­mum, the lead­er­ship of the move­ment is com­mit­ted to denial­ism: There was no Big Lie, there was only hon­est con­cern for elec­tions integri­ty mis­rep­re­sent­ed by the lib­er­al media. This denial­ism, how­ev­er, has proved to be mere­ly a cov­er for the endorse­ment of Trump’s coup attempt and a com­mit­ment to anti-demo­c­ra­t­ic pol­i­tics.

    The more blunt-spo­ken lead­ers of the move­ment have not hes­i­tat­ed to make the posi­tion clear. At the June 2021 Road to Major­i­ty con­fer­ence in Kissim­mee, Flori­da, an annu­al gath­er­ing of the movement’s key activists, strate­gists, and politi­cians, move­ment thought leader Eric Metaxas let it be known that the real vic­tims of the Jan­u­ary 6 event were the good peo­ple who ran­sacked the Capi­tol. Speak­ing of GOP lead­ers, he fired, in his words, “an arrow across their bow”: “Any Repub­li­can that has not spo­ken in defense of the Jan­u­ary 6 peo­ple to me is dead. They’re dead.”

    The right-wing polit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor and activist Dinesh D’Souza echoed the sen­ti­ment. “The peo­ple who are real­ly get­ting shaft­ed right now are the Jan­u­ary 6 pro­test­ers,” he said in con­ver­sa­tion with vet­er­an reli­gious right strate­gist Ralph Reed. “We won’t defend our guys even when they’re good guys.”

    At the Con­ser­v­a­tive Polit­i­cal Action Con­fer­ence that took place in Dal­las in July 2021, Jan­u­ary 6 was even recon­ceived as a pos­si­ble Demo­c­ra­t­ic plot. “[The Biden] admin­is­tra­tion is about tyran­ni­cal rule. They don’t want to fol­low the Con­sti­tu­tion,” said Allen West, for­mer chair­man of the Repub­li­can Par­ty of Texas, before he recast events dri­ven by far-right extrem­ists as bizarre and pos­si­bly Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­spir­a­cies. “On Jan­u­ary 6, the sergeant-at-arms had turned down, on behalf of the speak­er, hav­ing the Nation­al Guard there to help pro­tect the Capi­tol. Why did that hap­pen? You think they were set­ting things up? Well, I do.”

    **********

    The unspo­ken but oper­at­ing assump­tion among lead­ers of the reli­gious right at present seems to be that Don­ald Trump will run again for pres­i­dent in 2024. All appear to assume that, if he runs, he is like­ly to be the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee. They fur­ther seem to take for grant­ed that he will spend much of the 2024 cam­paign com­plain­ing that the 2020 elec­tion was stolen and that 2024 is at risk of being stolen, too. It fol­lows that his best shot at win­ning is to use that lie, if nec­es­sary, to steal the elec­tion for him­self. Since the alter­na­tive, in their view, is to turn the nation over to the demon­ic Democ­rats for per­ma­nent destruc­tion, these assump­tions have locked move­ment lead­er­ship into a straight­for­ward strat­e­gy in the run-up to 2024. They will pre­pare the rank and file to embrace the “Big Lie II,” as it were, in the hopes that this time it will work.

    Will they suc­ceed? We can’t know for some time, of course, but we will be able to get a bet­ter sense of the direc­tion of our pol­i­tics if we pay atten­tion to the right sources. For most of the pub­lic, Big Lie II will play out in sound bites on right-wing tele­vi­sion, Twit­ter feeds, and Face­book posts. But the part of the oper­a­tion that mat­ters more will take place out of view of most media. Move­ment lead­ers will lever­age their orga­ni­za­tions to prime the base for the Big Lie. Work­ing through orga­ni­za­tions like Faith Wins and The Church Finds Its Voice; through mil­i­tant, often hyper­mas­cu­line groups like Stand Coura­geous; or through “par­ent activist” groups such as Moms for Lib­er­ty and Par­ents Defend­ing Edu­ca­tion, they are cul­ti­vat­ing a cadre of activists pre­pared to use the threat of dis­rup­tion, chaos, and per­haps even vio­lence to “pro­tect” the desired elec­tion results. Because if God tells you in advance who is sup­posed to win every election—and then the oth­er can­di­date wins—the only accept­able expla­na­tion is that the elec­tion was stolen, and stolen against the wish­es of God.

    As the event winds down, Byron Foxx, one of the evan­ge­lists tour­ing with Chad Con­nel­ly, takes to the stage. “It is not time to be com­pla­cent,” he intones. “The church is not a cruise ship, the church is a bat­tle­ship.”

    As far as can be deter­mined from her spo­radic posts and the let­ters she signs as a mem­ber of the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy, Joan Lind­sey is proud of the move­ment she has helped to finance. Con­ser­v­a­tive pas­tors, she wrote on the web­site for The Church Finds Its Voice, are “already lead­ing the way back to God’s way for us. A tremen­dous num­ber of you have led vot­er reg­is­tra­tions and are speak­ing truth about our duty as men and women of faith to sup­port God­ly gov­er­nance.”

    ...

    ———–

    “The Shock Troops of the Next Big Lie” by Kather­ine Stew­art; The New Repub­lic; 01/10/2022

    As far as can be deter­mined from her spo­radic posts and the let­ters she signs as a mem­ber of the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy, Joan Lind­sey is proud of the move­ment she has helped to finance. Con­ser­v­a­tive pas­tors, she wrote on the web­site for The Church Finds Its Voice, are “already lead­ing the way back to God’s way for us. A tremen­dous num­ber of you have led vot­er reg­is­tra­tions and are speak­ing truth about our duty as men and women of faith to sup­port God­ly gov­er­nance.””

    It’s just a Chris­t­ian-ori­ent­ed get-out-the-vote effort. That’s the pub­lic spin on the polit­i­cal orga­niz­ing car­ried out by the Lind­sey Foun­da­tion. And note that in addi­tion to Joan Lind­sey, Kielle C. Hor­ton, the Pres­i­dent of The Lind­sey Foun­da­tion, is also a CNP mem­ber. But upon clos­er exam­i­na­tion, we find that these faith-based GOTV groups are lit­tle more than just mega­phones for the pre­vail­ing Stolen Elec­tion nar­ra­tive:

    ...
    From 2019 to 2020, the Lind­sey Foun­da­tion fun­neled at least $500,000 to a new orga­ni­za­tion, Faith Wins, intend­ed to mobi­lize pas­tors at con­ser­v­a­tive church­es to bring out the pro-Trump Repub­li­can vote. Faith Wins is part of a Lind­sey-backed coali­tion called The Church Finds Its Voice. In many respects, the Lind­seys’ invest­ment in Faith Wins and The Church Finds Its Voice fol­lows a long-stand­ing pat­tern in the Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist move­ment of back­ing projects to turn America’s net­work of tens of thou­sands of con­ser­v­a­tive church­es into a pow­er­ful par­ti­san polit­i­cal machine.

    But there is also some­thing nov­el in the Faith Wins project, and it sheds much light on the direc­tion of the move­ment in the after­math of the Trump pres­i­den­cy. Unlike pre-Trump get-out-the-pas­tors projects, Faith Wins has made con­cerns about “elec­tions integri­ty” a cen­tral part of the mes­sage for its tar­get audi­ence. The pre­tense is that this is intend­ed to shore up pub­lic con­fi­dence in elec­tions. The real­i­ty is that the group is con­scious­ly help­ing to lay the foun­da­tions for the next iter­a­tion of the Big Lie. If Trump runs again, and if the Big Lie works next time around in secur­ing him the pres­i­den­cy, Faith Wins and its col­lab­o­ra­tors will have played a crit­i­cal role in mak­ing it hap­pen.

    ...

    From a dis­tance of a year, though, it has become clear that the quandary was a mirage. Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist lead­ers are, if any­thing, even more com­mit­ted to Trump­ist pol­i­tics than they were in Jan­u­ary 2021. My Faith Votes, a faith-based vot­er mobi­liza­tion orga­ni­za­tion, for exam­ple, launched an ini­tia­tive called “Elec­tion Integri­ty Now.” The group issued a prayer guide with a sev­en-point plan for ask­ing God “to pro­tect Amer­i­can elec­tions and deliv­er trust­wor­thy results.”
    ...

    But that mes­sage about Stolen Elec­tions is just one part of a broad­er pro­pa­gan­da effort direct­ly tar­get­ing Chris­tians with a mes­sage. A dire mes­sage that Chris­tian­i­ty is fac­ing an exis­ten­tial threat. And that threat does­n’t just come from god­less athe­ism. As fel­low CNP mem­ber Chad Con­nel­ly described to a group of Vir­ginia pas­tors last fall, part of what makes the US a God-ordained coun­try is a ded­i­ca­tion to Cap­i­tal­ism and Free Mar­kets. It’s a reminder of the CNP’s roots going back to The Fam­i­ly and its mis­sion of spread­ing a fas­cist form of Chris­tian­i­ty to world lead­ers. It’s also a reminder of the pro­found philo­soph­i­cal par­al­lels between this net­work and the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood’s eco­nom­ic-theo­crat­ic world­view. Because if there’s one thing that unites fas­cists theocrats of all stripes, it’s the fas­cism, of course:

    ...
    Chan­til­ly, Vir­ginia, sits on the edge of Fair­fax Coun­ty, a pros­per­ous, D.C.-adjacent region pock­et­ed with res­i­den­tial sub­di­vi­sions. On a Thurs­day morn­ing in late Sep­tem­ber, at the Com­mu­ni­ty Bap­tist Church, a mid­size church built in the 1990s, a crowd of about 50 indi­vid­u­als, most­ly pas­tors, most of them men, break­fasts on Chick-fil‑A sand­wich­es. A Repub­li­can can­di­date for the Vir­ginia House of Del­e­gates is there to work the room, as is a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the cam­paign of Glenn Youngkin, the pre­vi­ous co-CEO of the Car­lyle Group who went on to upset Ter­ry McAu­li­ffe in the 2021 Vir­ginia guber­na­to­r­i­al elec­tion.

    ...

    A for­mer chair of the South Car­oli­na Repub­li­can Par­ty and direc­tor of faith engage­ment under Reince Priebus at the Repub­li­can Nation­al Com­mit­tee for four years, Con­nel­ly is both a polit­i­cal vet­er­an and a key play­er in the Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist move­ment. He serves on the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy, where he sits on the board of gov­er­nors, and where Joan Lind­sey is a Gold Cir­cle mem­ber. The coun­cil was found­ed by Paul Weyrich, Tim LaHaye, and oth­ers at the dawn of the Rea­gan era. Today, it is the appa­ra­tus con­nect­ing the “doers and the donors,” as the father of Bet­sy DeVos’s hus­band, Rich DeVos, put it, of the Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist and con­ser­v­a­tive polit­i­cal machine.

    ...

    Con­nel­ly hap­pi­ly makes clear that his work owes much to the gen­eros­i­ty of Joan Lind­sey and her fam­i­ly foun­da­tion. “Joan Lind­sey just start­ed talk­ing to me about this,” Con­nel­ly tells the crowd. “So a cou­ple years ago we real­ly start­ed this thing called The Church Finds Its Voice.” He nods. “If y’all have ever seen Chris­t­ian lead­ers on tele­vi­sion, Joan Lindsey’s like­ly trained ’em. She’s a media guru. An expert.”

    There is a part of Connelly’s mes­sage, both here and in his social media pres­ence, that will be famil­iar to any­one who has tak­en in a min­i­mum dose of Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist rhetoric. “This is a cru­cial time in our nation’s his­to­ry,” he says, strik­ing the first chord in a well-rehearsed song about the exis­ten­tial neces­si­ty of elec­toral vic­to­ry. “Is this our 1776 moment, or is it 1944?” he says. “I’ve nev­er vot­ed for a pro-death per­son. Nev­er vot­ed for any­body of any stripe that was OK with killing a baby in a mommy’s tum­my.” In Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist cir­cles today, every elec­tion is a con­test against absolute evil, and the con­se­quences of fail­ure almost too dire to imag­ine.

    ...

    The refrain of this famil­iar song con­trasts dire cir­cum­stances in the present with the gold­en age of yore. “This place has been ordained by God,” Con­nel­ly said in a Sep­tem­ber 2020 pod­cast episode, “when the Founders deter­mined that of course they were read­ing the Bible and they were believ­ers of the word of God. And so Amer­i­ca became unique and spe­cial because the Founders under­stood that the found­ing had to tie into God.”

    As in most ver­sions of the song, the tran­si­tion from the Chris­t­ian nation myth to rad­i­cal free-mar­ket doc­trine is seam­less. Accord­ing to Con­nel­ly, the sec­ond rea­son for America’s unique­ness and spe­cial­ness “is the free-mar­ket sys­tem, which of course is God’s bib­li­cal econ­o­my.” Next comes the fear and loathing. “There’s a far left now that doesn’t believe in God, they’re god­less com­plete­ly. They believe the state is the supreme being,” Con­nel­ly says on the pod­cast. “It’s actu­al­ly a god­less, com­mu­nis­tic, Marx­ist style of gov­ern­ment.”
    ...

    Fol­low­ing Con­nel­ly at this faith-based ‘get-out-the-vote’ gath­er­ing was Tim Bar­ton, son of key Project Blitz fig­ure David Bar­ton. As we should expect, Tim warned the audi­ence that AP US His­to­ry cours­es are just pro­pa­gan­da designed to obscure the US’s god­ly her­itage. But it’s the Bar­tons’ view on the role of church­es dur­ing the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War that’s the most notable: they claim the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War was essen­tial­ly fought with church mili­tias. As Bar­ton put it, “Almost every one of these ear­ly bat­tles, it was noth­ing more than pas­tors lead­ing their church­es in the bat­tle”:

    ...
    Fol­low­ing Con­nel­ly at the podi­um is Tim Bar­ton, son of David Bar­ton, founder of the Wall­Builders orga­ni­za­tion and one of the Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist movement’s most influ­en­tial activists. Wall­Builders presents itself as “ded­i­cat­ed to pre­sent­ing America’s for­got­ten his­to­ry and heroes, with an empha­sis on the moral, reli­gious, and con­sti­tu­tion­al foun­da­tion on which Amer­i­ca was built—a foun­da­tion which, in recent years, has been seri­ous­ly attacked and under­mined.”

    In Chan­til­ly, we are told that David Bar­ton has tak­en ill, but his son Tim dis­pos­es him­self in a man­ner that would make his father proud, offer­ing the usu­al litany of Bar­tonesque half-truths and mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions of U.S. his­to­ry. America’s Founders were one and all “believ­ers,” accord­ing to Tim Bar­ton, and the Con­sti­tu­tion comes straight from the Bible. And an Advanced Place­ment U.S. his­to­ry course for high school stu­dents, Bar­ton adds for good mea­sure, is just lib­er­al pro­pa­gan­da aim­ing to under­mine America’s god­ly her­itage.

    Tim Bar­ton is par­tic­u­lar­ly keen to empha­size a cer­tain, idio­syn­crat­ic aspect of Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist mythol­o­gy. His father, David Bar­ton, has long been obsessed with the image of America’s Colo­nial-era priests tear­ing off their robes, becom­ing sol­diers, and lead­ing their con­gre­ga­tions out into mil­i­tary bat­tle. He and Wall­Builders cre­at­ed a group of activist con­ser­v­a­tive cler­gy called the Black Robe Reg­i­ment. “I can go down the list of dozens of pas­tors who led their con­gre­ga­tions to oppose the British because they open fired on us, they declared war on us,” Tim Bar­ton says. Refer­ring to the bat­tles of Lex­ing­ton, Bunker Hill, and Con­cord, he adds, “Almost every one of these ear­ly bat­tles, it was noth­ing more than pas­tors lead­ing their church­es in the bat­tle.”
    ...

    Now, regard­ing the overt mil­i­tarism of some­one like retired Lt. Gen. William Boykin — who infa­mous­ly declared in 2003 that “My God is big­ger than yours” and that the US was in a bat­tle with Satan — try not to be sur­prised to learn that Boykin is also a CNP mem­ber. The CNP clear­ly had zero prob­lems with Boykin­s’s state­ments. Oh, and Tony Perkins is a mem­ber too:

    ...
    The con­cern with mas­cu­line mil­i­tary virtue, though always a part of the move­ment, has become a sig­na­ture fea­ture of the Trump and post-Trump era. For exam­ple, Tony Perkins, head of the Fam­i­ly Research Coun­cil, has recent­ly formed a part­ner­ship with retired Lt. Gen. William Boykin, who for­mer­ly served at the Cen­tral Intel­li­gence Agency and has played a role in nur­tur­ing Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist net­works in the mil­i­tary and among “dis­as­ter relief” NGOs abroad. The pair have helped lead a men’s min­istry called Stand Coura­geous to help men “make com­mit­ments that will move men clos­er to God’s good pur­pose and design—men who will Stand Coura­geous!” At Stand Coura­geous gath­er­ings across the coun­try, mas­culin­i­ty, patri­archy, and mil­i­tarism are the name of reli­gion itself. “We need men to be men, tough with com­pas­sion­ate strength, bent toward jus­tice with­out com­pro­mise, lock­ing arms and stand­ing,” the group’s mate­ri­als declare. “We need to be the men God cre­at­ed us to be; war­riors for all that is right, true, and just.”
    ...

    Then there’s the role played direct­ly by reli­gious lead­ers like Greb Lock and Ken Peters at the Capi­tol in the lead up to the insur­rec­tion, rul­ing up the crowd with rev­o­lu­tion­ary rhetoric. Recall how Peters works close­ly with mil­i­tary Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist Matt Shea, who advo­cates for the mass exe­cu­tion of all non-Chris­t­ian adult males. When Peters was call­ing upon the crowd at the Jan 5 Stop the Steal ral­ly at the Cap­i­tal to resist a left-wing coup, he was speak­ing the lan­guage of mil­i­tant Chris­t­ian nation­al­ism:

    ...
    Trump’s attempt to sub­vert the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of the Elec­toral Col­lege results by incit­ing an attack on the U.S. Capi­tol on Jan­u­ary 6 at first appeared to ampli­fy the quandary. Right-wing preach­ers, such as Greg Locke and Ken Peters, played a sig­nif­i­cant role in ril­ing up the crowd in the days and hours pre­ced­ing the riot, and Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist sym­bol­ism was all over the event. Move­ment lead­ers now had to decide whether their cause would get behind an armed attempt to over­throw the U.S. gov­ern­ment.
    ...

    The final speak­er at this even was for­mer deputy press sec­re­tary in the Trump White House Hogan Gid­ley, who exem­pli­fied one of the core strate­gies of this move­ment. A strat­e­gy that exem­pli­fies just how bad-faithed it all ulti­mate­ly is: con­scious lying in order to pre­serve a nar­ra­tive. Just end­less­ly repeat­ing what they know to be the oppo­site of real­i­ty. A cyn­i­cal cun­ning strat­e­gy used by peo­ple who real­ize they are deceiv­ing their audi­ence and sim­ply don’t care about the ethics of it. And all done under the aus­pices of a moral cru­sade to renew the coun­try. It’s gross:

    ...
    Hogan Gid­ley, who worked as the deputy press sec­re­tary in the Trump White House and is rep­re­sent­ed as an “elec­tions expert,” is the final fea­tured speak­er of today’s pre­sen­ta­tion. It is his pres­ence on the agen­da that brings the sub­text of the meet­ing out into the open. “The Cen­ter for Elec­tion Integri­ty that Chad men­tioned, it’s non­par­ti­san,” Gid­ley announces. Then he prompt­ly offers the kind of mis­in­for­ma­tion that pass­es for wis­dom in the Trump­ist incar­na­tion of the Repub­li­can Par­ty. “You saw the stuff in Ari­zona, you’re going to see more stuff in Wis­con­sin; these are sig­nif­i­cant issues, and they can’t be dis­missed out of hand any­more, the facts are too glar­ing,” he says.

    Remark­ably, he is refer­ring to the cir­cus­like, GOP-backed audit of votes in Arizona’s largest coun­ty, which, after dis­cred­it­ing itself with its bizarre antics, man­aged only to con­firm that Biden won Ari­zona by more votes than pre­vi­ous­ly thought. But the nar­ra­tive of per­se­cu­tion is too valu­able in acti­vat­ing the base to dis­card sim­ply because it’s not true. “Any office­hold­er who allows it to hap­pen should be held account­able, not to men­tion the fact that if we find some­one com­mit­ting fraud, they’ve bro­ken the law, and they have to face a penal­ty as well,” says Gid­ley. In time, he launch­es into a well-worn con­spir­a­cy about the so-called ceme­tery vote. He says: “About two mil­lion dead peo­ple are list­ed on vot­er rolls right now.... We saw some­thing new in this last elec­tion. Dead peo­ple didn’t just vote. They request­ed mail-in bal­lots, filled them out, and some­how got them into the drop box.”

    ...

    There are of course many over­lap­ping expla­na­tions for the recent trans­for­ma­tion of Amer­i­can polit­i­cal life. But the one that remains under­ap­pre­ci­at­ed in the present moment is the role of the Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist move­ment in estab­lish­ing the nec­es­sary pre­con­di­tions for the kind of coup that Trump attempt­ed.

    The essen­tial precondition—more impor­tant than mon­ey, more impor­tant than media, more impor­tant even than will­ing liars in high pub­lic office—is the exis­tence of a sub­stan­tial base of sup­port­ers primed to embrace a big lie. With­out lead­ers’ coor­di­nat­ed efforts to indoc­tri­nate such a base, no lie can take hold. To cre­ate such a base, four key steps are nec­es­sary.

    Step one is to build an infor­ma­tion bub­ble with­in which the base may be main­tained in a state of fact-denial. Much atten­tion has cor­rect­ly been placed on right-wing media in cre­at­ing such a safe space for con­ser­v­a­tives, but not enough atten­tion has been paid to the con­ser­v­a­tive net­works that sup­ply the back­bone of the Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist move­ment. Orga­ni­za­tions like Faith Wins aim at pas­tors because they know that, for their tar­get vot­ers, pas­tors and reli­gious com­mu­ni­ties are often the most trust­ed sources of infor­ma­tion.

    Step two is that this base must be con­di­tioned to expect an immi­nent, cat­a­clysmic event that will threat­en every­thing it val­ues. The apoc­a­lyp­ti­cism and the per­se­cu­tion com­plex of the move­ment are per­fect­ly suit­ed to the task.

    A third step is to trans­fer the per­ceived source of polit­i­cal legit­i­ma­cy from demo­c­ra­t­ic process­es like elec­tions to “high­er” author­i­ties that alleged­ly rep­re­sent the “true” spir­it of the nation. This of course is the device through which a minor­i­ty of the coun­try can come to believe that it has a prov­i­den­tial role in rul­ing the whole. As Steve Ban­non said at a ral­ly in sup­port of Glenn Young­kin, which was held on Octo­ber 13 in Rich­mond, Vir­ginia, “We’re putting togeth­er a coali­tion that’s gonna gov­ern for 100 years.”

    The final step is to do what Trump did start­ing in 2019: under­mine at every oppor­tu­ni­ty pub­lic con­fi­dence in the results of the next elec­tion. In a sense, the coup attempt began on nation­al tele­vi­sion dur­ing the first pres­i­den­tial debate, when Trump made clear that he would not accept the results of the elec­tion if he lost. At Bannon’s ral­ly for Youngkin, Trump called in and said, “We won in 2016. We won in 2020—the most cor­rupt elec­tion in the his­to­ry of our coun­try, prob­a­bly one of the most cor­rupt any­where. But we’re gonna win it again.”
    ...

    Democ­ra­cy in the US is being buried by a ‘faith-based’ move­ment led by peo­ple of pro­found­ly bad faith who have zero appar­ent prob­lem with com­plete­ly lying to their flock. It’s the kind of sit­u­a­tion that rais­es the implic­it ques­tion of whether or not there’s any line they would­n’t cross. After all, we’re wit­ness­es an onslaught of lies by a mil­i­tant move­ment ded­i­cat­ed to cap­tur­ing democ­ra­cy and replac­ing it with a theoc­ra­cy. Are there any lines at all that this move­ment would­n’t cross? It’s a hor­rif­ic ques­tion to ask, in part because that is lit­er­al­ly the mir­ror image of the same ques­tion these hor­ri­ble lead­ers are rou­tine­ly ask­ing their audi­ences to ask about the their polit­i­cal oppo­nents, only to fol­low it up with the answer that no, there is noth­ing the god­less athe­ist amoral Marx­ist satan­ic Left would­n’t do. A del­uge of pro­pa­gan­da designed to con­vinced its audi­ence that Chris­tian­i­ty is under assault and on the verge of being extin­guished. This is it. Every Chris­tian’s back is up against the wall in the face of this impend­ing threat. Now is the time to fight or all is lost. Vote Trump 2024. And after you vote, get ready to storm the Capi­tol again to made sure it hap­pens this time. That’s the mes­sage from the nation’s lead­ing crypto­fas­cist net­work of bad-faith ‘faith lead­ers’.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 1, 2022, 12:56 am
  11. Are the walls final­ly clos­ing in on Don­ald Trump? We’ll see, but it would appear that the walls are at least inch­ing a lit­tle clos­er based on Trump’s open calls for a kind of Amer­i­can Maid­an mass-protest move­ment in cities across the US should he end up fac­ing jail time. And while it’s pos­si­ble that Trump and per­haps even some of the oth­er key mem­bers in his inner cir­cle could face some sort of pun­ish­ment over the role they played in plan­ning and exe­cut­ing a coup attempt, it’s also just a sad real­i­ty that there’s no real­is­tic chance of the broad­er net­work of fig­ures who clear­ly sup­port­ed the insur­rec­tion, and still ratio­nal­ize it to this day, ever fac­ing any real crim­i­nal penal­ties. This is despite the fact that more and more cir­cum­stan­tial flood­ing flesh­ing out the role mem­bers of the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy (CNP) played in ratio­nal­iz­ing and orga­niz­ing the Jan­u­ary 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion. In effect, the GOP as a par­ty has endorsed the insur­rec­tion and future ones. But beyond that, the dark mon­ey net­works of super-wealth donors who effec­tive­ly run the GOP appear to have ful­ly jumped on board the insur­rec­tion train. That’s why the sto­ry of the role CNP mem­bers played in the insur­rec­tion is so cru­cial. The insur­rec­tion was a group effort, includ­ing the group of super-wealthy crypto­fas­cists who are pulling all the strings.

    So if the US is fac­ing a sit­u­a­tion where there’s no real­is­tic way to pun­ish­ing the pow­er­ful net­work behind the insur­rec­tion, it’s worth keep­ing in mind there’s a very obvi­ous form of pun­ish­ment avail­able: rescind the GOP’s 2017 tax cuts for the super-rich and big cor­po­ra­tions. After all, those tax cuts were the one sig­na­ture leg­isla­tive accom­plish­ment dur­ing Trump’s four years in office. An accom­plish­ment that helped almost no one in the long run oth­er than oli­garchs.

    And that brings us to an inter­est­ing report out of the Guardian from back in Octo­ber about a cer­tain top­ic the CNP had start­ed brag­ging about in recent years: sell­ing Trump on the tax cuts. That was one of the mes­sages deliv­ered dur­ing a Feb 2019 CNP con­fer­ence dur­ing a pan­el dis­cus­sion that includ­ed CNP mem­bers Bill Wal­ton (the CNP pres­i­dent) and Trump’s eco­nom­ic advi­sor Stephen Moore.

    Recall how Moore was open­ly brag­ging back in 2017 about how the tax cut was designed to specif­i­cal­ly harm Demo­c­rat-lean­ing ‘Blue’ states. “It’s death to Democrats...They go after state and local tax­es, which weak­ens pub­lic employ­ee unions. They go after uni­ver­si­ty endow­ments, and uni­ver­si­ties have become play pens of the left. And get­ting rid of the man­date is to even­tu­al­ly dis­man­tle Oba­macare,” Moore said in an inter­view, argu­ing that it would accel­er­ate “a death spi­ral” in the Oba­macare state mar­ket­places.

    Also recall how it was Moore who pub­licly came to Trump’s defense fol­low­ing reports describ­ing how Trump did­n’t per­son­al­ly care at all that his tax cut was trig­ger­ing explod­ing deficits because “I won’t be here” when it blows up. And as we saw, while anony­mous sources inside the White House were leak­ing to reporters their con­cerns that Trump had aban­doned the tra­di­tion­al Repub­li­can stance of fret­ting about explod­ing deficits as an excuse for cut­ting spend­ing, there was one notable defend­er in the White House of Trump’s approach of allow­ing deficits to explode with­out fear: Stephen Moore, who coun­tered Trump’s crit­ics at the time by argu­ing high eco­nom­ic growth would alle­vi­ate the deficit prob­lems over time. It was a clas­sic cyn­i­cal sup­ply-side argu­ment that tax-cuts always grow the econ­o­my.

    Accord­ing to Moore, it was he and Lar­ry Kud­low who con­vinced Trump to imple­ment the tax cut. These are the kinds of acco­lades the CNP gives itself dur­ing these secret meet­ings. And that’s why it’s worth keep­ing in mind that while direct pun­ish­ment of the CNP’s role in the insur­rec­tion is prob­a­bly not real­is­tic, there’s a very viable form of pun­ish­ment that’s just sit­ting there ready to go: reverse the CNP-engi­neered 2017 tax cuts for the super-rich and large cor­po­ra­tions:

    The Guardian

    How a secre­tive con­ser­v­a­tive group influ­enced ‘pop­ulist’ Trump’s tax cuts

    Record­ings from a 2019 pan­el dis­cus­sion of the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy reveal tax cuts were sparked by per­son­al con­ver­sa­tions

    Jason Wil­son
    Mon 25 Oct 2021 03.01 EDT

    Doc­u­ments and record­ings obtained by the Guardian shed new light on a pow­er­ful and secre­tive rightwing net­work and the influ­ence it was able to exert on Trump admin­is­tra­tion poli­cies favor­ing the super-rich.

    The record­ings include speech­es giv­en to the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy (CNP) by con­ser­v­a­tive media stars includ­ing Den­nis Prager, emerg­ing Repub­li­can pow­er play­ers such as Char­lie Kirk, and close eco­nom­ic advis­ers to Don­ald Trump.

    Some of the pre­vi­ous­ly pub­lished record­ings appear to no longer be pub­licly avail­able.

    The Guardian’s inde­pen­dent­ly sourced record­ings offer an insight into how con­ser­v­a­tive eco­nom­ic thinkers – from bod­ies rep­re­sent­ing the inter­ests of some of the rich­est indi­vid­u­als in the coun­try – were able to exert influ­ence on the sup­posed pop­ulist Trump.

    In par­tic­u­lar, a pan­el dis­cus­sion at CNP’s Feb­ru­ary 2019 meet­ing sug­gests that Trump decid­ed one of his most far-reach­ing eco­nom­ic poli­cies on very lim­it­ed evi­dence – on the basis of a per­son­al con­ver­sa­tion.

    The pan­el involved Bill Wal­ton, pres­i­dent of CNP; the Wash­ing­ton Times colum­nist and for­mer mem­ber of the Cay­man Islands Mon­e­tary Author­i­ty Richard Rahn; Jonathan Williams, chief econ­o­mist at the Amer­i­can Leg­isla­tive Exchange Coun­cil (Alec); and Stephen Moore, a one-time Trump nom­i­nee for the Fed­er­al Reserve board, whose nom­i­na­tion was with­drawn fol­low­ing rev­e­la­tions in the Guardian that he had failed to pay his ex-wife hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars in alimo­ny.

    The pan­elists offered a favor­able assess­ment of the Trump administration’s eco­nom­ic per­for­mance, but also used the plat­form to claim cred­it for push­ing the admin­is­tra­tion in the direc­tion of rad­i­cal free-mar­ket poli­cies.

    Moore claimed that he, togeth­er with Lar­ry Kud­low, Trump’s direc­tor of the Nation­al Eco­nom­ic Coun­cil from 2018, had per­suad­ed the then­pres­i­dent to offer unprece­dent­ed cor­po­rate tax cuts.

    He described a meet­ing with Trump where they argued that the US’s cor­po­rate tax rate, rel­a­tive to those among cer­tain Asian and Euro­pean com­peti­tors, was effec­tive­ly a penal­ty on US com­pa­nies, stat­ing: “Look, you know, we’re at 40% – they are 20%. This is a big prob­lem.”

    Moore said that they explained these tax dif­fer­ences using charts, “because Don­ald Trump likes to look at pic­tures, he doesn’t like to read”.

    Accord­ing to Moore: “Trump looked at this and he said: ‘No, I don’t want to do that,’” instead propos­ing “not 20%. I want 15%,” with the num­ber com­ing back to an effec­tive 20% rate only after Sen­ate nego­ti­a­tions.

    Trump’s tax cuts slashed effec­tive cor­po­rate tax rates in half, while pro­vid­ing oth­er mea­sures ben­e­fit­ing wealthy cor­po­ra­tions.

    The cuts have been blamed for widen­ing inequal­i­ty, and wors­en­ing deficits, with a large amount of the sav­ings going to stock buy­backs, accord­ing to busi­ness reporters and econ­o­mists. The Con­gres­sion­al Research Ser­vice point­ed out that any pos­i­tive effects, like wage or GDP growth, were tran­sient, and had petered out by the end of the quar­ter in which the cuts were put into effect.

    This reveals the pow­er of the CNP, a lit­tle known body whose mem­bers are deeply secre­tive about their meet­ings. CNP atten­dees’ access to this pic­ture of the inner work­ings of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, and the play­ers who helped set its course, is the result of adher­ence to a strict code of silence.

    In intro­duc­ing the pan­el, the CNP con­fer­ence director,Mary Mar­garet Hath­away, enjoined par­tic­i­pants to secre­cy, remind­ing them to “not record any speak­er remarks”.

    Hath­away con­tin­ued: “CNP meet­ings are off-lim­its to the press. So please be aware of who you’re talk­ing to.”

    She added, “Don’t grant any inter­views and if you run into a reporter ask­ing ques­tions about the event, please let a mem­ber of the CNP staff or lead­er­ship team know.”

    Despite her warn­ings, the orga­ni­za­tion itself made the record­ings obtained by the Guardian, and uploaded them on their web­site in a man­ner that made them acces­si­ble to any inter­net user.

    Oth­er record­ings obtained by the Guardian include talks at 2018 and 2019 meet­ings by senior Repub­li­cans includ­ing Sen­a­tor Tom Cot­ton and the US con­gress­man Steve Scalise; and for­mer gov­er­nors includ­ing Scott Walk­er and Sam Brown­back.

    ...

    ————-

    “How a secre­tive con­ser­v­a­tive group influ­enced ‘pop­ulist’ Trump’s tax cuts” by Jason Wil­son; The Guardian; 10/25/2021

    The cuts have been blamed for widen­ing inequal­i­ty, and wors­en­ing deficits, with a large amount of the sav­ings going to stock buy­backs, accord­ing to busi­ness reporters and econ­o­mists. The Con­gres­sion­al Research Ser­vice point­ed out that any pos­i­tive effects, like wage or GDP growth, were tran­sient, and had petered out by the end of the quar­ter in which the cuts were put into effect.”

    The 2017 GOP tax law is already a dis­as­ter. An imme­di­ate fis­cal pop fol­lowed by years grow­ing deficits. Any pos­i­tive effects felt by the gen­er­al pub­lic have already been spent. It’s like planned nation­al divest­ment for the exclu­sive ben­e­fit of the inter­na­tion­al investor class.

    And while Trump him­self is typ­i­cal­ly giv­en the cred­it for the bill, it was CNP mem­bers who appar­ent­ly shep­herd­ed the bill through the Trump White House. At least those were the claims made at the CNP’s Feb­ru­ary 2019 meet­ing dur­ing a pan­el that includ­ed CNP pres­i­dent Bill Wal­ton and CNP mem­ber Stephen Moore. Moore in par­tic­u­lar seemed to take per­son­al cred­it, along­side Lar­ry Kud­low, for guid­ing Trump down the path of extreme cuts:

    ...
    In par­tic­u­lar, a pan­el dis­cus­sion at CNP’s Feb­ru­ary 2019 meet­ing sug­gests that Trump decid­ed one of his most far-reach­ing eco­nom­ic poli­cies on very lim­it­ed evi­dence – on the basis of a per­son­al con­ver­sa­tion.

    The pan­el involved Bill Wal­ton, pres­i­dent of CNP; the Wash­ing­ton Times colum­nist and for­mer mem­ber of the Cay­man Islands Mon­e­tary Author­i­ty Richard Rahn; Jonathan Williams, chief econ­o­mist at the Amer­i­can Leg­isla­tive Exchange Coun­cil (Alec); and Stephen Moore, a one-time Trump nom­i­nee for the Fed­er­al Reserve board, whose nom­i­na­tion was with­drawn fol­low­ing rev­e­la­tions in the Guardian that he had failed to pay his ex-wife hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars in alimo­ny.

    ...

    The pan­elists offered a favor­able assess­ment of the Trump administration’s eco­nom­ic per­for­mance, but also used the plat­form to claim cred­it for push­ing the admin­is­tra­tion in the direc­tion of rad­i­cal free-mar­ket poli­cies.

    Moore claimed that he, togeth­er with Lar­ry Kud­low, Trump’s direc­tor of the Nation­al Eco­nom­ic Coun­cil from 2018, had per­suad­ed the then­pres­i­dent to offer unprece­dent­ed cor­po­rate tax cuts.

    He described a meet­ing with Trump where they argued that the US’s cor­po­rate tax rate, rel­a­tive to those among cer­tain Asian and Euro­pean com­peti­tors, was effec­tive­ly a penal­ty on US com­pa­nies, stat­ing: “Look, you know, we’re at 40% – they are 20%. This is a big prob­lem.”

    Moore said that they explained these tax dif­fer­ences using charts, “because Don­ald Trump likes to look at pic­tures, he doesn’t like to read”.

    Accord­ing to Moore: “Trump looked at this and he said: ‘No, I don’t want to do that,’” instead propos­ing “not 20%. I want 15%,” with the num­ber com­ing back to an effec­tive 20% rate only after Sen­ate nego­ti­a­tions.
    ...

    Now, it’s pret­ty obvi­ous that Moore and Kud­low can’t take all the cred­it here. Trump was going to pass a mas­sive tax cut one way or anoth­er. But there’s also no ques­tion Moore and Kud­low were in two of the best seats for influ­enc­ing the par­tic­u­lars of the bill. Would Trump have inten­tion­al­ly craft­ed a tax bill that pun­ished ‘Blue’ states if Moore had­n’t been push­ing for exact­ly that strat­e­gy? We don’t know, but it’s hard to imag­ine Moore was­n’t effec­tive­ly telling Trump what the bill should look like. It’s not like Trump, a man who does­n’t like the read, was going to design that pol­i­cy on his own

    Also note that, while Lar­ry Kud­low may not appear on the leak CNP mem­ber lists, Kud­low appears to be a mem­ber of Opus Dei, along with fig­ures like Newt Gin­grich and Sam Brown­back. Also recall how Brown­back him­self is also a mem­ber of ‘The Fam­i­ly’, which itself is like the par­ent christo­fas­cist cryp­to-polit­i­cal enti­ty for the CNP.

    It’s all one big over­lap­ping net­work. A net­work ded­i­cat­ed to seiz­ing polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic pow­er through any means nec­es­sary, from bud­get-bust­ing tax cuts to insur­rec­tions. And as of now, this net­work is still enjoy­ing its made-to-order tax cut and is pret­ty much the only part of soci­ety still ben­e­fit­ing from it. A tax-cut that was essen­tial­ly designed to fun­nel near­ly all of the ben­e­fits towards a high­ly tar­get­ed, and tiny, audi­ence. A tiny audi­ence who pro­ceed­ed to orga­nize a coup attempt. A while the coup attempt did­n’t work, that tax bill is still very much in effect. Per­haps a high­ly tar­get­ed “insur­rec­tion tax” could help rec­ti­fy the sit­u­a­tion.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 2, 2022, 9:58 pm
  12. Input the words “crit­i­cal race the­o­ry” into a news search engine these days and it’s as if there’s a rag­ing pan­dem­ic of CRT threat­en­ing chil­dren across the US:

    * Feb 9, 2022: “Edu­ca­tion com­mit­tee votes to lim­it crit­i­cal race the­o­ry instruc­tion in South Dako­ta’s pub­lic schools”

    * Feb 11, 2022: “New doc­u­men­tary says crit­i­cal race the­o­ry is in Utah Schools”

    * Feb 11, 2022: “Fam­i­ly that sued East Penn schools over lessons on white priv­i­lege, sys­temic racism, Black Lives Mat­ter could get $45,000 under set­tle­ment”

    * Feb 13, 2022: “Ken­tucky law­mak­ers again take aim at ‘crit­i­cal race the­o­ry’ in new omnibus bill”

    It’s the kind of pan­dem­ic that def­i­nite­ly isn’t get­ting addressed with a vac­cine. So with this pan­dem­ic rag­ing with no end in sight, here’s a reminder that the entire “crit­i­cal race the­o­ry” freak­out real­ly was a man­u­fac­tured cri­sis. A joint pro­duc­tion by the Koch net­work and the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy (CNP). A coor­di­nat­ed effort start­ed seem­ing­ly out of nowhere in ear­ly 2021, right when the GOP des­per­ate­ly need­ed to move the nation­al con­ver­sa­tion away from the GOP’s sup­port for the Jan 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion. It was a group effort. The kind of group effort that demon­strat­ed once again how these influ­ence net­work have the pow­er to effec­tive­ly cre­ate a cri­sis at will, effec­tive­ly in secret, and with vir­tu­al­ly no con­se­quences to this net­work:

    The Wash­ing­ton Spec­ta­tor

    Reli­gious Right Fuels Nation­al Attack On School Boards, Exploit­ing Parental Frus­tra­tion Over Covid Restraints

    by Anne Nel­son
    Nov 23, 2021

    One of the few ques­tions that Democ­rats and Repub­li­cans can agree upon is the school board controversy’s out­sized role in the Repub­li­can vic­to­ry in Virginia’s recent guber­na­to­r­i­al elec­tion. Although much of the press cov­er­age sug­gest­ed that the protests involved a “grass­roots” move­ment, they have actu­al­ly includ­ed an elab­o­rate­ly orches­trat­ed oper­a­tion to exploit par­ents who are stressed by school dis­rup­tion and Covid-19 fatigue. Vir­ginia may have served as the lab­o­ra­to­ry for the project, but sim­i­lar efforts it will be vis­i­ble all over the elec­toral map in the peri­od lead­ing up to the 2022 midterms.

    For many, the project first came to light last April, when a par­ent named Asra Nomani pub­lished a scathing cri­tique of her child’s school, the Thomas Jef­fer­son High School for Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy in Fair­fax Coun­ty, Vir­ginia. The arti­cle was pub­lished in The Fed­er­al­ist (a right-wing plat­form that has been sus­pend­ed from Twit­ter in the past for pub­lish­ing harm­ful Covid dis­in­for­ma­tion). Nomani, a for­mer Wall Street Jour­nal reporter, direct­ed her rage at a class­room screen­ing of Ava du Vernay’s award-win­ning Net­flix doc­u­men­tary, 13th, and the lesson’s cau­tion, “Racism is not a con­cept of the past.” Two days lat­er, Nomani’s sto­ry made Fox News, where the reporter added that the Jef­fer­son stu­dents were being “indoc­tri­nat­ed with crit­i­cal race the­o­ry.”

    The sit­u­a­tion quick­ly mush­roomed. In June, a Jef­fer­son par­ent (name with­held for secu­ri­ty con­cerns), told the Spec­ta­tor, “Our PTA is col­laps­ing under pres­sure of hav­ing two inter­nal, high­ly polit­i­cal groups try­ing to do a hos­tile takeover.” The par­ents asso­ci­a­tion in their for­mer­ly polite sub­urb was unpre­pared for the tac­tics employed by the two linked edu­ca­tion­al “advo­ca­cy” groups, Coali­tion for TJ, a group of Thomas Jef­fer­son par­ents, and DefendingEd, a group with a nation­al pres­ence. “They call par­ents’ employ­ers and harass the employ­ers and par­ents. There are inci­dents where peo­ple who seem to have been rad­i­cal­ized are doing bizarre things.” In sub­ur­ban Vir­ginia, these actions include the van­dal­iza­tion of people’s homes and prop­er­ty.

    But the activism of agi­tat­ed par­ents has tran­scend­ed the PTA board­room. On Novem­ber 5, Asra Nomani, billed as the “vice pres­i­dent of strat­e­gy and inves­ti­ga­tions” for DefendingEd, took cred­it in the Fair­fax Times for her organization’s role in Repub­li­can Glenn Youngkin’s vic­to­ry in the Vir­ginia governor’s race. “Lit­tle did Youngkin know but the ground­work for his vic­to­ry was actu­al­ly laid on June 7, 2020, months before he even decid­ed to run for office, with a moth­er who would become one of the many ‘hop­ping mad’ par­ents in a mama and papa bear move­ment that would bring him to office.”

    This may have been an exaggeration—but giv­en the 64,000-vote mar­gin in the race, the PTA and school board bat­tles in the Wash­ing­ton sub­urbs made a dif­fer­ence. Fair­fax, with over a mil­lion res­i­dents, is the most pop­u­lous coun­ty in Vir­ginia, while adja­cent Loudoun Coun­ty, at 420,000, is the fourth-most pop­u­lous. Not coin­ci­den­tal­ly, they are also the homes of many of the con­ser­v­a­tive polit­i­cal strate­gists and oper­a­tives involved in lever­ag­ing the cam­paign.

    PTA and school board protests have erupt­ed across the coun­try. In Jef­fer­son Coun­ty, Col­orado, long­time school board mem­bers are sud­den­ly being called Nazis and child abusers. An Illi­nois school board mem­ber resigned after receiv­ing death threats and deposits of dead rodents on her doorstep. The local events are pub­li­cized as protests against mask require­ments and school cur­ric­u­la. But they also have a clear polit­i­cal agen­da: They are play­ing an expand­ing role in elec­toral pol­i­tics, lead­ing into next year’s cru­cial midterm elec­tions.

    The web­site for DefendingEd (short­hand for Par­ents Defend­ing Edu­ca­tion) states, “Through net­work and coali­tion build­ing, inves­tiga­tive report­ing, lit­i­ga­tion, and engage­ment on local, state, and nation­al poli­cies, we are fight­ing indoc­tri­na­tion in the class­room.” Despite DefendingEd’s self-descrip­tion as a “nation­al grass­roots orga­ni­za­tion,” it is more accu­rate­ly described as an astro­turf oper­a­tion, orches­trat­ed and coor­di­nat­ed through a web of donors and strate­gists, many of them part­ners, via the reli­gious right, in the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy (see Nel­son, Hold­ing Democ­ra­cy in the U. S. Hostage) and asso­ci­at­ed oper­a­tions of the Koch broth­ers’ empire.

    These efforts have been woven through the right-wing ecos­phere. As not­ed, Asra Nomani gen­er­at­ed the Fed­er­al­ist and Fox News sto­ries, as well as the sto­ry claim­ing cred­it for the Youngkin vic­to­ry. DefendingEd’s found­ing pres­i­dent, Nicole Neily, came to her office with a long career in Koch-fund­ed oper­a­tions, includ­ing the Cato Insti­tute, the Inde­pen­dent Women’s Forum, Speech First, and the Franklin Cen­ter for Gov­ern­ment and Pub­lic Integri­ty.

    Many par­ents and edu­ca­tors have tried in vain to con­test the premise of these attacks by point­ing out that crit­i­cal race the­o­ry—a core com­plaint of the movement—doesn’t even exist at the grade-school lev­el; it has been used as a frame­work for dis­cus­sions about struc­tur­al racism in law school over the past four decades. But the attacks are often root­ed in a time-worn play­book that the rad­i­cal right has used to gen­er­ate use­ful con­tro­ver­sies for decades. The tech­nique involves identifying—and in some cas­es, inventing—an inflam­ma­to­ry term that touch­es a nerve among the tar­get pop­u­la­tion, and pro­vok­ing con­flict through coor­di­nat­ed local orga­niz­ing with media ampli­fi­ca­tion.

    The anti-abor­tion cam­paign offers one exam­ple of this. Abor­tion was not a par­tic­u­lar­ly fraught top­ic among Amer­i­can Protes­tants in the 1970s, but a net­work of reli­gious right orga­ni­za­tions con­nect­ed to the CNP dis­cov­ered that coin­ing and pro­mot­ing mis­lead­ing terms about abor­tion could acti­vate their intend­ed audi­ences. “Par­tial-birth abor­tion” and “birth-day abor­tion on demand” were man­u­fac­tured terms that had no mean­ing in med­i­cine or in law but became suc­cess­ful “brands” for per­sua­sion and mobi­liza­tion.

    As they absorbed the loss of the 2020 elec­tions, the lead­er­ship of the reli­gious right saw signs they had begun to exhaust the avail­able sup­ply of new con­ser­v­a­tive evan­gel­i­cal vot­ers in crit­i­cal dis­tricts. Polls also indi­cat­ed that a cru­cial bloc of swing vot­ers, col­lege-edu­cat­ed white sub­ur­ban women, were increas­ing­ly dis­af­fect­ed with Trump and were often unmoved by the anti-abor­tion mes­sage. But polling also showed that as the Covid-19 epi­dem­ic wore on, these vot­ers were increas­ing­ly anx­ious about their chil­dren, their pub­lic schools, and con­flict­ing pub­lic health poli­cies.

    It was time for a new ini­tia­tive. The ques­tion was, what trig­ger­ing con­cept or term could chan­nel these anx­i­eties into a polit­i­cal response?

    Par­ents Defend­ing Edu­ca­tion (or DefendingEd) was incor­po­rat­ed in Vir­ginia on Jan­u­ary 21, 2021. Unusu­al for a grass­roots orga­ni­za­tion, it was born ful­ly equipped with a Twit­ter account (Decem­ber 2020) and a Face­book account (Jan­u­ary 2020) and rapid­ly acquired a pub­lic rela­tions firm and a polling firm.

    Around the same time, a new offen­sive around crit­i­cal race the­o­ry start­ed to gain trac­tion. On March 15, Christo­pher Rufo, a young polit­i­cal oper­a­tive with the con­ser­v­a­tive Man­hat­tan Insti­tute, post­ed two tweets aligned with pre­vi­ous ini­tia­tives that explained the strat­e­gy to har­ness new votes through mis­lead­ing ter­mi­nol­o­gy. Asra Nomani’s Fed­er­al­ist and Fox News “exposés” fol­lowed a month lat­er.

    ___

    Christo­pher F. Rufo @realchrisrufo

    Fol­low @realchrisrufo

    We have suc­cess­ful­ly frozen their brand—“critical race theory”—into the pub­lic con­ver­sa­tion and are steadi­ly dri­ving up neg­a­tive per­cep­tions. We will even­tu­al­ly turn it tox­ic, as we put all of the var­i­ous cul­tur­al insan­i­ties under that brand cat­e­go­ry.

    Christo­pher F. Rufo @realchrisrufo

    Fol­low @realchrisrufo

    Reply­ing to @realchrisrufo @ConceptualJames

    The goal is to have the pub­lic read some­thing crazy in the news­pa­per and imme­di­ate­ly think “crit­i­cal race the­o­ry.” We have decod­i­fied the term and will recod­i­fy it to annex the entire range of cul­tur­al con­struc­tions that are unpop­u­lar with Amer­i­cans.

    12:17 PM – 15 Mar 2021

    ___

    By mid­sum­mer, the com­bined crit­i­cal race the­o­ry and school board cam­paigns were not only under­way, they were embraced by mul­ti­ple lead­ers and media plat­forms through­out the CNP net­work. A June 15 inves­ti­ga­tion by NBC News described state-lev­el school board ini­tia­tives, quot­ing Karen Eng­land, a mem­ber of the CNP’s board of gov­er­nors.

    “This is an oppor­tu­ni­ty for what I feel like I’ve been scream­ing from the rooftops about,” Eng­land told NBC, speak­ing as exec­u­tive direc­tor for Neva­da Fam­i­ly Alliance, known for its efforts to end Drag Queen Sto­ry Hour at local libraries; the group recent­ly pro­posed plac­ing body cam­eras on teach­ers sus­pect­ed of teach­ing crit­i­cal race the­o­ry.

    On June 24, Pat Robert­son, a past pres­i­dent of the CNP, fol­lowed suit on his Chris­t­ian Broad­cast­ing Network’s 700 Club, describ­ing crit­i­cal race the­o­ry as “a mon­strous evil” used by “Com­mu­nists” to “destroy chil­dren.”

    The short-term impact of these ini­tia­tives was easy to dis­cern. They attacked the school boards, dis­rupt­ing a foun­da­tion of local demo­c­ra­t­ic prac­tice, and they derailed edu­ca­tors’ efforts to address issues of inequal­i­ty and racism that gained promi­nence in the wake of the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment.

    But they also served to orga­nize par­ents into a new polit­i­cal cohort, as evi­denced on June 29 with the stag­ing of a “boot camp” to train par­ents for school board takeovers, held by Fam­i­ly Research Coun­cil Action. The pro­gram was led by FRC pres­i­dent Tony Perkins, a stan­dard-bear­er of the reli­gious right and long­time pres­i­dent of the CNP. The train­ing ses­sion fea­tured Eliz­a­beth Schultz—a “senior fel­low” for DefendingEd from Fair­fax Coun­ty who worked under Bet­sy DeVos, the for­mer sec­re­tary of edu­ca­tion in the Trump admin­is­tra­tion.

    On June 30, the FRC web­site post­ed:

    Yes­ter­day, FRC Action host­ed a very suc­cess­ful School Board Boot Camp. In response to the repeat­ed requests of part­ners across the coun­try, the four-hour train­ing ses­sion pro­vid­ed infor­ma­tion on what you need to know about run­ning for school board or sup­port­ing peo­ple who answer the call to pub­lic ser­vice. At the end of the day, we learned that 97 per­cent of par­tic­i­pants said they would def­i­nite­ly or prob­a­bly rec­om­mend this event to oth­ers, and 66 per­cent said they would def­i­nite­ly be inter­est­ed in one specif­i­cal­ly for their state.

    Links between the school board cam­paign and GOP par­ty pol­i­tics became clear­er by the week. August 6 brought a mass email from the Lead­er­ship Insti­tute, run by Mor­ton Black­well, a co-founder and exec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­ber of the CNP. (His group claims to have trained and net­worked over 200,000 con­ser­v­a­tive can­di­dates and elec­tion work­ers in the use of data and polit­i­cal com­mu­ni­ca­tions. The Institute’s senior direc­tor Bob Arnakis has claimed cred­it for pop­u­lar­iz­ing the term “par­tial-birth abor­tion.”)

    The Lead­er­ship Institute’s email blast pro­mot­ed a series of new train­ing ses­sions, stat­ing, “Con­ser­v­a­tives are prepar­ing a school board takeover and you can get involved. . . . The best way to fight crit­i­cal race the­o­ry and left­ist indoc­tri­na­tion in America’s schools is to elect more school boards across the coun­try.”

    ...

    Oth­er CNP affil­i­ates stepped in. In Octo­ber, Judi­cial Watch, head­ed by Tom Fit­ton, anoth­er mem­ber of the CNP exec­u­tive com­mit­tee, post­ed an attack against a Rhode Island school district’s teacher train­ing mate­ri­als. Judi­cial Watch object­ed to teach­ing the con­cepts of “anti-racism” and “equi­ty” (while acknowl­edg­ing that crit­i­cal race the­o­ry doesn’t appear in grade-school cur­ric­u­la).

    As explained a gazil­lion times, you will not find a third-grade book called Crit­i­cal Race The­o­ry. Instead, you find the race-focused prin­ci­ples of CRT under oth­er names, such as “antiracism,” “equi­ty,” and “cul­tur­al­ly respon­sive learn­ing.”

    * The train­ing course claims that there are “unfor­tu­nate truths” about the his­to­ry of Rhode Island and the Unit­ed States.

    (Editor’s note: Rhode Island was a major cen­ter of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and dis­patched some 2,000 voy­ages to enslave Africans.)

    Yet anoth­er part­ner in the cam­paign is Turn­ing Point USA, head­ed by CNP mem­ber Char­lie Kirk. In part­ner­ship with the Lead­er­ship Insti­tute, TPUSA has cre­at­ed a “School Board Watch­list,” a com­pan­ion site to its McCarthyite “Pro­fes­sor Watch­list.” There it posts cri­tiques of school boards linked to their sup­port for LGBT-friend­ly poli­cies and require­ments for vac­cines and mask­ing. Notably, TPUSA posts the names and pic­tures of school board mem­bers in dis­tricts where threats and harass­ment are mount­ing. Fair­fax Coun­ty is promi­nent­ly list­ed; so are Nor­man, Okla­homa; Lin­coln, Nebras­ka; and scores of oth­er com­mu­ni­ties. Like the Lead­er­ship Insti­tute and the Fam­i­ly Research Coun­cil ini­tia­tives, TPUSA’s school board cam­paign includes a fundrais­ing func­tion on its web­site.

    Hard­wired into the school board cam­paigns are the stan­dard ele­ments of the strat­e­gy: mon­ey, media, and a secret hub to coor­di­nate efforts to dis­rupt Amer­i­can pol­i­tics on both a nation­al and a local lev­el. To be sure, Par­ents Defend­ing Edu­ca­tion is only one of sev­er­al major orga­ni­za­tions in the field, and the CNP is only one of the coor­di­nat­ing bod­ies. Defin­ing the broad­er field won’t be easy; giv­en the role of dark mon­ey and the snail’s pace of tax and fed­er­al elec­tion fil­ings, the threads con­nect­ing their financ­ing, data, and polit­i­cal engage­ment will take months, if not years, to trace. But all indi­ca­tions are that these efforts are direct­ed at the 2022 midterms, and they are well under­way now.

    ————

    “Reli­gious Right Fuels Nation­al Attack On School Boards, Exploit­ing Parental Frus­tra­tion Over Covid Restraints” by Anne Nel­son; The Wash­ing­ton Spec­ta­tor; 11/23/2021

    PTA and school board protests have erupt­ed across the coun­try. In Jef­fer­son Coun­ty, Col­orado, long­time school board mem­bers are sud­den­ly being called Nazis and child abusers. An Illi­nois school board mem­ber resigned after receiv­ing death threats and deposits of dead rodents on her doorstep. The local events are pub­li­cized as protests against mask require­ments and school cur­ric­u­la. But they also have a clear polit­i­cal agen­da: They are play­ing an expand­ing role in elec­toral pol­i­tics, lead­ing into next year’s cru­cial midterm elec­tions.”

    It’s quite of remark­able coin­ci­dence how school boards all around the US were sud­den­ly inun­dat­ed with parental com­plaints about ‘crit­i­cal race the­o­ry’ in ear­ly 2021. It was out of the blue. Like some­one flipped a switch. But of course it was­n’t just a big coin­ci­dence. It was a pro­duc­tion of the Koch net­work and the CNP. It seem­ing­ly start­ed in April 2021 when Asra Nomani, a Vir­ginia par­ent, pub­lished a scathing cri­tique describ­ing how her child was being “indoc­tri­nat­ed with crit­i­cal race the­o­ry.” Soon after, two ‘par­ent advo­ca­cy’ groups descend­ed on the school dis­trict. One group, “Coali­tion for TJ” appears to be a local group. But then there’s the oth­er group, DefendingEd. And not only is DefendingEd a prod­uct of the CNP and Koch net­works, but it turns out Nomani her­self served as DefendingEd’s “vice pres­i­dent of strat­e­gy and inves­ti­ga­tion”. This was a CNP/Koch oper­a­tion from the out­set:

    ...
    For many, the project first came to light last April, when a par­ent named Asra Nomani pub­lished a scathing cri­tique of her child’s school, the Thomas Jef­fer­son High School for Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy in Fair­fax Coun­ty, Vir­ginia. The arti­cle was pub­lished in The Fed­er­al­ist (a right-wing plat­form that has been sus­pend­ed from Twit­ter in the past for pub­lish­ing harm­ful Covid dis­in­for­ma­tion). Nomani, a for­mer Wall Street Jour­nal reporter, direct­ed her rage at a class­room screen­ing of Ava du Vernay’s award-win­ning Net­flix doc­u­men­tary, 13th, and the lesson’s cau­tion, “Racism is not a con­cept of the past.” Two days lat­er, Nomani’s sto­ry made Fox News, where the reporter added that the Jef­fer­son stu­dents were being “indoc­tri­nat­ed with crit­i­cal race the­o­ry.”

    The sit­u­a­tion quick­ly mush­roomed. In June, a Jef­fer­son par­ent (name with­held for secu­ri­ty con­cerns), told the Spec­ta­tor, “Our PTA is col­laps­ing under pres­sure of hav­ing two inter­nal, high­ly polit­i­cal groups try­ing to do a hos­tile takeover.” The par­ents asso­ci­a­tion in their for­mer­ly polite sub­urb was unpre­pared for the tac­tics employed by the two linked edu­ca­tion­al “advo­ca­cy” groups, Coali­tion for TJ, a group of Thomas Jef­fer­son par­ents, and DefendingEd, a group with a nation­al pres­ence. “They call par­ents’ employ­ers and harass the employ­ers and par­ents. There are inci­dents where peo­ple who seem to have been rad­i­cal­ized are doing bizarre things.” In sub­ur­ban Vir­ginia, these actions include the van­dal­iza­tion of people’s homes and prop­er­ty.

    But the activism of agi­tat­ed par­ents has tran­scend­ed the PTA board­room. On Novem­ber 5, Asra Nomani, billed as the “vice pres­i­dent of strat­e­gy and inves­ti­ga­tions” for DefendingEd, took cred­it in the Fair­fax Times for her organization’s role in Repub­li­can Glenn Youngkin’s vic­to­ry in the Vir­ginia governor’s race. “Lit­tle did Youngkin know but the ground­work for his vic­to­ry was actu­al­ly laid on June 7, 2020, months before he even decid­ed to run for office, with a moth­er who would become one of the many ‘hop­ping mad’ par­ents in a mama and papa bear move­ment that would bring him to office.”

    This may have been an exaggeration—but giv­en the 64,000-vote mar­gin in the race, the PTA and school board bat­tles in the Wash­ing­ton sub­urbs made a dif­fer­ence. Fair­fax, with over a mil­lion res­i­dents, is the most pop­u­lous coun­ty in Vir­ginia, while adja­cent Loudoun Coun­ty, at 420,000, is the fourth-most pop­u­lous. Not coin­ci­den­tal­ly, they are also the homes of many of the con­ser­v­a­tive polit­i­cal strate­gists and oper­a­tives involved in lever­ag­ing the cam­paign.

    ...

    The web­site for DefendingEd (short­hand for Par­ents Defend­ing Edu­ca­tion) states, “Through net­work and coali­tion build­ing, inves­tiga­tive report­ing, lit­i­ga­tion, and engage­ment on local, state, and nation­al poli­cies, we are fight­ing indoc­tri­na­tion in the class­room.” Despite DefendingEd’s self-descrip­tion as a “nation­al grass­roots orga­ni­za­tion,” it is more accu­rate­ly described as an astro­turf oper­a­tion, orches­trat­ed and coor­di­nat­ed through a web of donors and strate­gists, many of them part­ners, via the reli­gious right, in the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy (see Nel­son, Hold­ing Democ­ra­cy in the U. S. Hostage) and asso­ci­at­ed oper­a­tions of the Koch broth­ers’ empire.

    These efforts have been woven through the right-wing ecos­phere. As not­ed, Asra Nomani gen­er­at­ed the Fed­er­al­ist and Fox News sto­ries, as well as the sto­ry claim­ing cred­it for the Youngkin vic­to­ry. DefendingEd’s found­ing pres­i­dent, Nicole Neily, came to her office with a long career in Koch-fund­ed oper­a­tions, includ­ing the Cato Insti­tute, the Inde­pen­dent Women’s Forum, Speech First, and the Franklin Cen­ter for Gov­ern­ment and Pub­lic Integri­ty.
    ...

    Recall how an analy­sis of the emer­gence of “Crit­i­cal Race The­o­ry” as a hot top­ic on the right in 2021 found it was a net­work of Koch-financed groups that appears to all sud­den­ly start push­ing CRT seem­ing­ly simul­ta­ne­ous­ly. It’s a man­u­fac­tured ‘cri­sis’ brought to us by the CNP and the Koch net­work:

    ...
    Par­ents Defend­ing Edu­ca­tion (or DefendingEd) was incor­po­rat­ed in Vir­ginia on Jan­u­ary 21, 2021. Unusu­al for a grass­roots orga­ni­za­tion, it was born ful­ly equipped with a Twit­ter account (Decem­ber 2020) and a Face­book account (Jan­u­ary 2020) and rapid­ly acquired a pub­lic rela­tions firm and a polling firm.

    Around the same time, a new offen­sive around crit­i­cal race the­o­ry start­ed to gain trac­tion. On March 15, Christo­pher Rufo, a young polit­i­cal oper­a­tive with the con­ser­v­a­tive Man­hat­tan Insti­tute, post­ed two tweets aligned with pre­vi­ous ini­tia­tives that explained the strat­e­gy to har­ness new votes through mis­lead­ing ter­mi­nol­o­gy. Asra Nomani’s Fed­er­al­ist and Fox News “exposés” fol­lowed a month lat­er.

    ...

    By mid­sum­mer, the com­bined crit­i­cal race the­o­ry and school board cam­paigns were not only under­way, they were embraced by mul­ti­ple lead­ers and media plat­forms through­out the CNP net­work. A June 15 inves­ti­ga­tion by NBC News described state-lev­el school board ini­tia­tives, quot­ing Karen Eng­land, a mem­ber of the CNP’s board of gov­er­nors.

    ...

    On June 24, Pat Robert­son, a past pres­i­dent of the CNP, fol­lowed suit on his Chris­t­ian Broad­cast­ing Network’s 700 Club, describ­ing crit­i­cal race the­o­ry as “a mon­strous evil” used by “Com­mu­nists” to “destroy chil­dren.”

    ...

    But they also served to orga­nize par­ents into a new polit­i­cal cohort, as evi­denced on June 29 with the stag­ing of a “boot camp” to train par­ents for school board takeovers, held by Fam­i­ly Research Coun­cil Action. The pro­gram was led by FRC pres­i­dent Tony Perkins, a stan­dard-bear­er of the reli­gious right and long­time pres­i­dent of the CNP. The train­ing ses­sion fea­tured Eliz­a­beth Schultz—a “senior fel­low” for DefendingEd from Fair­fax Coun­ty who worked under Bet­sy DeVos, the for­mer sec­re­tary of edu­ca­tion in the Trump admin­is­tra­tion.

    ...

    Links between the school board cam­paign and GOP par­ty pol­i­tics became clear­er by the week. August 6 brought a mass email from the Lead­er­ship Insti­tute, run by Mor­ton Black­well, a co-founder and exec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­ber of the CNP. (His group claims to have trained and net­worked over 200,000 con­ser­v­a­tive can­di­dates and elec­tion work­ers in the use of data and polit­i­cal com­mu­ni­ca­tions. The Institute’s senior direc­tor Bob Arnakis has claimed cred­it for pop­u­lar­iz­ing the term “par­tial-birth abor­tion.”)

    ...

    Oth­er CNP affil­i­ates stepped in. In Octo­ber, Judi­cial Watch, head­ed by Tom Fit­ton, anoth­er mem­ber of the CNP exec­u­tive com­mit­tee, post­ed an attack against a Rhode Island school district’s teacher train­ing mate­ri­als. Judi­cial Watch object­ed to teach­ing the con­cepts of “anti-racism” and “equi­ty” (while acknowl­edg­ing that crit­i­cal race the­o­ry doesn’t appear in grade-school cur­ric­u­la).

    ...

    Yet anoth­er part­ner in the cam­paign is Turn­ing Point USA, head­ed by CNP mem­ber Char­lie Kirk. In part­ner­ship with the Lead­er­ship Insti­tute, TPUSA has cre­at­ed a “School Board Watch­list,” a com­pan­ion site to its McCarthyite “Pro­fes­sor Watch­list.” There it posts cri­tiques of school boards linked to their sup­port for LGBT-friend­ly poli­cies and require­ments for vac­cines and mask­ing. Notably, TPUSA posts the names and pic­tures of school board mem­bers in dis­tricts where threats and harass­ment are mount­ing. Fair­fax Coun­ty is promi­nent­ly list­ed; so are Nor­man, Okla­homa; Lin­coln, Nebras­ka; and scores of oth­er com­mu­ni­ties. Like the Lead­er­ship Insti­tute and the Fam­i­ly Research Coun­cil ini­tia­tives, TPUSA’s school board cam­paign includes a fundrais­ing func­tion on its web­site.
    ...

    And as the arti­cle points out, this is kind of orga­nized sus­tained propaganda/gaslighting is a tem­plate of action this net­work is extreme­ly famil­iar with. The decades-long fix­a­tion on abor­tion in the US was in many respects the result of the wild suc­cess of the far right’s abil­i­ty to warp the abor­tion debate into a wedge issue between good and evil:

    ...
    Many par­ents and edu­ca­tors have tried in vain to con­test the premise of these attacks by point­ing out that crit­i­cal race the­o­ry—a core com­plaint of the movement—doesn’t even exist at the grade-school lev­el; it has been used as a frame­work for dis­cus­sions about struc­tur­al racism in law school over the past four decades. But the attacks are often root­ed in a time-worn play­book that the rad­i­cal right has used to gen­er­ate use­ful con­tro­ver­sies for decades. The tech­nique involves identifying—and in some cas­es, inventing—an inflam­ma­to­ry term that touch­es a nerve among the tar­get pop­u­la­tion, and pro­vok­ing con­flict through coor­di­nat­ed local orga­niz­ing with media amplification.</i

    The anti-abor­tion cam­paign offers one exam­ple of this. Abor­tion was not a par­tic­u­lar­ly fraught top­ic among Amer­i­can Protes­tants in the 1970s, but a net­work of reli­gious right orga­ni­za­tions con­nect­ed to the CNP dis­cov­ered that coin­ing and pro­mot­ing mis­lead­ing terms about abor­tion could acti­vate their intend­ed audi­ences. “Par­tial-birth abor­tion” and “birth-day abor­tion on demand” were man­u­fac­tured terms that had no mean­ing in med­i­cine or in law but became suc­cess­ful “brands” for per­sua­sion and mobi­liza­tion.
    ...

    And as the GOP has made clear, the man­u­fac­tured hys­te­ria of CNP isn’t going to be lim­it­ed to Vir­ginia. Fol­low­ing Glenn Youngk­in’s guber­na­to­r­i­al vic­to­ry this has become a nation­al gaslight­ing effort. In oth­er words, some­times the term ‘out­side agi­ta­tors’ is actu­al­ly an appro­pri­ate term. Not usu­al­ly, but some­times.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 13, 2022, 10:29 pm
  13. What exact­ly was the CNP’s “not so secret weapon” up to in the months lead­ing up to the Jan­u­ary 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion? It’s a ques­tion that has long loomed in the back­ground of the inves­ti­ga­tion that day that became much more top­i­cal this week fol­low­ing the rev­e­la­tions that Gin­ni Thomas — wife of Supreme Court jus­tice Clarence Thomas and the per­son pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed as being the CNP’s “not so secret weapon” dur­ing this peri­od and work­ing close­ly with fel­low CNP mem­ber Cle­ta Mitchell — was exten­sive­ly mes­sag­ing then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Mead­ows and encour­ag­ing the Trump admin­is­tra­tion to adopt exact­ly the strat­e­gy that ulti­mate­ly led up to the insur­rec­tion. Mes­sages like repeat­ed­ly encour­ag­ing the Trump White House to make Sid­ney Pow­ell the ‘face’ of the effort. Thomas even encour­aged the White House to ‘release the Krak­en’ at one point. And when Mead­ows even­tu­al­ly told her that Pow­ell nev­er actu­al­ly pre­sent­ed any real evi­dence of fraud, Thomas remained res­olute­ly behind the effort, even attend­ing the Jan 6 ‘Stop the Steal” ral­ly at the Ellipse.

    So the wife of one of the most far right judges on the court was not only work­ing close­ly with Cle­ta Mitchell and pro­mot­ing Sid­ney Pow­ell, but she was also in pre­vi­ous­ly-secret reg­u­lar com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Trump’s Chief of Staff. It rais­es quite a few ques­tions. Ques­tions that include whether or not Gin­ni Thomas was also in com­mu­ni­ca­tion with John East­man, the oth­er ‘respectable’ con­ser­v­a­tive lawyer who was furi­ous­ly con­coct­ing legal jus­ti­fi­ca­tions to over­turn the elec­tion. And as we’re going to see the sec­ond arti­cle below, while there’s no direct evi­dence that Gin­ni Thomas was in com­mu­ni­ca­tion with East­man, there’s plen­ty of indi­rect evi­dence point­ing in that direc­tion, most notably that East­man appeared to be con­fi­dent that Clarence Thomas would rule in their favor if then-Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence went through the plans to block the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of the elec­tion on Jan 6. East­man and Pence’s legal coun­sel, Greg Jacobs, we’re report­ed­ly argu­ing with each oth­er about the prospects of any such scheme sur­viv­ing the inevitable legal chal­lenge before the Supreme Court, with Jacobs con­fi­dent that the court would rule 9–0 against them, while East­man was appar­ent­ly con­vinced that they could get two jus­tices to vote in their favor: Clarence Thomas and, like­ly, Samuel Ali­to.

    And that brings us to per­haps the biggest open ques­tion about the actu­al plan to legal­ly keep Trump in office? Because it does­n’t actu­al­ly appear to be the case that East­man, the cham­pi­on of this scheme, actu­al­ly felt like it would win a legal chal­lenge. Two jus­tices isn’t enough. So what was the actu­al plan to legal­ly keep Trump in office? Cre­ate a giant sys­temic cri­sis and declare mar­tial law? Who knows, but it remains an open ques­tion. An open ques­tion that now direct­ly involves the actions and intent of the CNP’s ‘not so secret weapon’ Gin­ni Thomas:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    Vir­ginia Thomas urged White House chief to pur­sue unre­lent­ing efforts to over­turn the 2020 elec­tion, texts show

    In mes­sages to Chief of Staff Mark Mead­ows in the weeks after Elec­tion Day, the wife of Supreme Court Jus­tice Clarence Thomas called Biden’s vic­to­ry “the great­est Heist of our His­to­ry” and told him that Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump should not con­cede.

    By Bob Wood­ward and Robert Cos­ta
    March 24, 2022 at 5:15 p.m. EDT

    Vir­ginia Thomas, a con­ser­v­a­tive activist mar­ried to Supreme Court Jus­tice Clarence Thomas, repeat­ed­ly pressed White House Chief of Staff Mark Mead­ows to pur­sue unre­lent­ing efforts to over­turn the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in a series of urgent text exchanges in the crit­i­cal weeks after the vote, accord­ing to copies of the mes­sages obtained by The Wash­ing­ton Post and CBS News.

    The mes­sages — 29 in all — reveal an extra­or­di­nary pipeline between Vir­ginia Thomas, who goes by Gin­ni, and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s top aide dur­ing a peri­od when Trump and his allies were vow­ing to go to the Supreme Court in an effort to negate the elec­tion results.

    On Nov. 10, after news orga­ni­za­tions had pro­ject­ed Joe Biden the win­ner based on state vote totals, Thomas wrote to Mead­ows: “Help This Great Pres­i­dent stand firm, Mark!!!...You are the leader, with him, who is stand­ing for America’s con­sti­tu­tion­al gov­er­nance at the precipice. The major­i­ty knows Biden and the Left is attempt­ing the great­est Heist of our His­to­ry.”

    When Mead­ows wrote to Thomas on Nov. 24, the White House chief of staff invoked God to describe the effort to over­turn the elec­tion. “This is a fight of good ver­sus evil,” Mead­ows wrote. “Evil always looks like the vic­tor until the King of Kings tri­umphs. Do not grow weary in well doing. The fight con­tin­ues. I have staked my career on it. Well at least my time in DC on it.”

    Thomas replied: “Thank you!! Need­ed that! This plus a con­ver­sa­tion with my best friend just now… I will try to keep hold­ing on. Amer­i­ca is worth it!”

    It is unclear to whom Thomas was refer­ring.

    The mes­sages, which do not direct­ly ref­er­ence Jus­tice Thomas or the Supreme Court, show for the first time how Gin­ni Thomas used her access to Trump’s inner cir­cle to pro­mote and seek to guide the president’s strat­e­gy to over­turn the elec­tion results — and how recep­tive and grate­ful Mead­ows said he was to receive her advice. Among Thomas’s stat­ed goals in the mes­sages was for lawyer Sid­ney Pow­ell, who pro­mot­ed incen­di­ary and unsup­port­ed claims about the elec­tion, to be “the lead and the face” of Trump’s legal team.

    The text mes­sages were among 2,320 that Mead­ows pro­vid­ed to the House select com­mit­tee inves­ti­gat­ing the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capi­tol. The con­tent of mes­sages between Thomas and Mead­ows — 21 sent by her, eight by him – has not pre­vi­ous­ly been report­ed. They were reviewed by The Post and CBS News and then con­firmed by five peo­ple who have seen the committee’s doc­u­ments.

    Meadows’s attor­ney, George Ter­williger III, con­firmed the exis­tence of the 29 mes­sages between his client and Thomas. In review­ing the sub­stance of the mes­sages Wednes­day, he said that nei­ther he nor Mead­ows would com­ment on indi­vid­ual texts. But, Ter­williger added, “noth­ing about the text mes­sages presents any legal issues.”

    ...

    It is unknown whether Gin­ni Thomas and Mead­ows exchanged addi­tion­al mes­sages between the elec­tion and Biden’s inau­gu­ra­tion beyond the 29 received by the com­mit­tee. Short­ly after pro­vid­ing the 2,320 mes­sages, Mead­ows ceased coop­er­at­ing with the com­mit­tee, argu­ing that any fur­ther engage­ment could vio­late Trump’s claims of exec­u­tive priv­i­lege. Com­mit­tee mem­bers and aides said they believe the mes­sages may be just a por­tion of the pair’s total exchanges.

    A spokesman for the com­mit­tee declined to com­ment. The rev­e­la­tion of Thomas’s mes­sages with Mead­ows comes three weeks after lawyers for the com­mit­tee said in a court fil­ing that the pan­el has “a good-faith basis for con­clud­ing that the Pres­i­dent and mem­bers of his Cam­paign engaged in a crim­i­nal con­spir­a­cy to defraud the Unit­ed States” and obstruct the count­ing of elec­toral votes by Con­gress.

    Trump spoke pub­licly dur­ing this peri­od about his intent to con­test the elec­tion results in the Supreme Court. “This is a major fraud on our nation,” the pres­i­dent said in a speech at 2:30 the morn­ing after the elec­tion. “We want the law to be used in a prop­er man­ner. So we’ll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

    Thomas has pub­licly denied any con­flict of inter­est between her activism and her husband’s work on the Supreme Court. “Clarence doesn’t dis­cuss his work with me, and I don’t involve him in my work,” she said in an inter­view with the Wash­ing­ton Free Bea­con, a con­ser­v­a­tive out­let, for an arti­cle pub­lished March 14.

    Gin­ni Thomas, in that inter­view, also acknowl­edged that she had attend­ed Trump’s “Stop the Steal” ral­ly at the Ellipse near the White House on Jan. 6, but said that she left ear­ly because it was too cold and that she did not have any role in plan­ning the event.

    Jus­tice Thomas, 73, is the Supreme Court’s longest-serv­ing cur­rent jus­tice and has missed oral argu­ments this week because of his hos­pi­tal­iza­tion. He has made few pub­lic com­ments about the 2020 elec­tion. In Feb­ru­ary 2021, when the Supreme Court reject­ed elec­tion chal­lenges filed by Trump and his allies, Thomas wrote in a dis­sent that it was “baf­fling” and “inex­plic­a­ble” that the major­i­ty had decid­ed against hear­ing the cas­es because he believed the Supreme Court should pro­vide states with guid­ance for future elec­tions.

    In her text mes­sages to Mead­ows, Gin­ni Thomas spread false the­o­ries, com­ment­ed on cable news seg­ments and advo­cat­ed with urgency and fer­vor that the pres­i­dent and his team take action to reverse the out­come of the elec­tion. She urged that they take a hard line with Trump staffers and con­gres­sion­al Repub­li­cans who had resist­ed argu­ments that the elec­tion was stolen.

    In the mes­sages, Thomas and Mead­ows each assert a belief that the elec­tion was stolen and seem to share a sol­i­dar­i­ty of pur­pose and faith, though they occa­sion­al­ly express dif­fer­ences on tac­tics.

    “The intense pres­sures you and our Pres­i­dent are now expe­ri­enc­ing are more intense than Any­thing Expe­ri­enced (but I only felt a frac­tion of it in 1991),” Thomas wrote to Mead­ows on Nov. 19, an appar­ent ref­er­ence to Jus­tice Thomas’s 1991 con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings in which lawyer Ani­ta Hill tes­ti­fied that he had made unwant­ed sex­u­al com­ments when he was her boss. Thomas strong­ly denied the accu­sa­tions.

    The first of the 29 mes­sages between Gin­ni Thomas and Mead­ows was sent on Nov. 5, two days after the elec­tion. She sent him a link to a YouTube video labeled “TRUMP STING w CIA Direc­tor Steve Pieczenik, The Biggest Elec­tion Sto­ry in His­to­ry, QFS-BLOCKCHAIN.”

    Pieczenik, a for­mer State Depart­ment offi­cial, is a far-right com­men­ta­tor who has false­ly claimed that the 2012 mas­sacre at Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary School in New­town, Conn., was a “false-flag” oper­a­tion to push a gun-con­trol agen­da.

    The video Thomas shared with Mead­ows is no longer avail­able on YouTube. But Thomas wrote to Mead­ows, “I hope this is true; nev­er heard any­thing like this before, or even a hint of it. Pos­si­ble???”

    “Water­marked bal­lots in over 12 states have been part of a huge Trump & mil­i­tary white hat sting oper­a­tion in 12 key bat­tle­ground states,” she wrote.

    Dur­ing that peri­od, sup­port­ers of the QAnon extrem­ist ide­ol­o­gy embraced a false the­o­ry that Trump had water­marked mail-in bal­lots so he could track poten­tial fraud. “Watch the water” was a refrain in QAnon cir­cles at the time.

    In the Nov. 5 mes­sage to Mead­ows, Thomas went on to quote a pas­sage that had cir­cu­lat­ed on right-wing web­sites: “Biden crime fam­i­ly & bal­lot fraud co-con­spir­a­tors (elect­ed offi­cials, bureau­crats, social media cen­sor­ship mon­gers, fake stream media reporters, etc) are being arrest­ed & detained for bal­lot fraud right now & over com­ing days, & will be liv­ing in barges off GITMO to face mil­i­tary tri­bunals for sedi­tion.”

    The text mes­sages received by the House select com­mit­tee do not include a response from Mead­ows.

    The next day, Nov. 6, Thomas sent a fol­low-up to Mead­ows: “Do not con­cede. It takes time for the army who is gath­er­ing for his back.”

    It is unclear if Mead­ows respond­ed.

    On Nov. 10, Thomas drew a reply from Mead­ows. She wrote, “Mark, I want­ed to text you and tell you for days you are in my prayers!!” She con­tin­ued by urg­ing him to “Help This Great Pres­i­dent stand firm” and invok­ing “the great­est Heist of our His­to­ry.”

    Thomas added in the mes­sage that Mead­ows should “Lis­ten to Rush. Mark Steyn, Bongi­no, Cle­ta” — appear­ing to refer to con­ser­v­a­tive com­men­ta­tors Rush Lim­baugh, Mark Steyn and Dan Bongi­no, as well as lawyer Cle­ta Mitchell, who was involved in Trump’s push to claim vic­to­ry in Geor­gia despite Biden’s cer­ti­fied win there.

    One minute lat­er, Mead­ows respond­ed: “I will stand firm. We will fight until there is no fight left. Our coun­try is too pre­cious to give up on. Thanks for all you do.”

    Nine min­utes after that, Thomas replied, “Tear­ing up and pray­ing for you guys!!!!! So proud to know you!!”

    Lat­er that night, Gin­ni Thomas mes­saged Mead­ows seem­ing to react to a cable news seg­ment. “Van Jones spins inter­est­ing­ly, but shows us the balls being jug­gled too,” Thomas said, refer­ring to the promi­nent CNN com­men­ta­tor.

    Thomas then turned to her frus­tra­tions with con­gres­sion­al Repub­li­cans and said she wished more of them were ral­ly­ing behind Trump and being more active with his base vot­ers, who were furi­ous about the elec­tion.

    She wrote, “House and Sen­ate guys are pathet­ic too... only 4 GOP House mem­bers seen out in street ral­lies with grass­roots... Gohmert, Jor­dan, Gosar, and Roy.” She appeared to be refer­ring to Repub­li­can House mem­bers Louie Gohmert of Texas, Jim Jor­dan of Ohio, Paul A. Gosar of Ari­zona and Chip Roy of Texas.

    This was a trou­bled time for Trump. News orga­ni­za­tions had declared Biden the win­ner on Nov. 7, after a review of vote totals in each state and the elec­toral count. Trump’s legal oper­a­tion was divid­ed between his campaign’s offi­cial lawyers and Rudolph W. Giu­liani, Trump’s con­fi­dant and per­son­al attor­ney who was fast assert­ing con­trol of his campaign’s legal strat­e­gy. While many Repub­li­cans sup­port­ed Trump’s fil­ing of legal chal­lenges in sev­er­al states, his lawyers stum­bled in court and many allies by mid-Novem­ber were pri­vate­ly con­fid­ing that Trump’s legal bat­tle would be short-lived.

    Yet Thomas urged Mead­ows to plow ahead, ral­ly Repub­li­cans around Trump and remind them of his endur­ing polit­i­cal cap­i­tal.

    “Where the heck are all those who ben­e­fit­ed by Pres­i­dents coat­tails?!!!” she wrote in her text mes­sage to him late on Nov. 10. She then told him to watch a YouTube video about the pow­er of nev­er con­ced­ing.

    Mead­ows might not have been Thomas’s only con­tact inside the Trump White House that week. On Nov. 13, she texted Mead­ows about her out­reach to “Jared,” poten­tial­ly a ref­er­ence to Jared Kush­n­er, the president’s son-in-law and senior White House advis­er. She wrote, “Just for­ward­ed to yr gmail an email I sent Jared this am. Sid­ney Pow­ell & improved coor­di­na­tion now will help the cav­al­ry come and Fraud exposed and Amer­i­ca saved.” The mes­sages pro­vid­ed to the House select com­mit­tee do not show a response by Mead­ows.

    Kush­n­er did not respond to a request for com­ment.

    Pow­ell was becom­ing ubiq­ui­tous on tele­vi­sion — and win­ning the president’s favor, accord­ing to sev­er­al Trump advis­ers — as she claimed with­out evi­dence that elec­tron­ic vot­ing sys­tems had stolen the elec­tion from Trump by switch­ing mil­lions of bal­lots in Biden’s favor. She claimed, again with­out evi­dence, that hun­dreds of thou­sands of bal­lots were appear­ing out of nowhere and that a glob­al com­mu­nist con­spir­a­cy was afoot involv­ing Venezuela, Cuba, and prob­a­bly Chi­na.

    Still, while Trump cheered some of Powell’s com­men­tary, she was a polar­iz­ing fig­ure in his orbit. Her views were con­sid­ered so extreme and unsup­port­ed by evi­dence that David Bossie, a long­time Trump sup­port­er, told oth­ers that she was ped­dling “con­coct­ed B.S.” After Fox News host Tuck­er Carl­son con­tact­ed Pow­ell about her claim that elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines had switched bal­lots to Biden, he told his view­ers that he found her answers eva­sive and that she had shown no evi­dence to sup­port her asser­tion. He stopped hav­ing her on his pro­gram.

    Gin­ni Thomas stood by her. “Don’t let her and your assets be mar­gin­al­ized instead...help her be the lead and the face,” she wrote to Mead­ows on Nov. 13.

    The fol­low­ing day, Nov. 14, Thomas sent Mead­ows mate­r­i­al she said was from Con­nie Hair, chief of staff to Gohmert. It is not clear if she was pass­ing on a mes­sage from Hair or shar­ing Hair’s per­spec­tive as guid­ance for Mead­ows. The text mes­sage seems to quote Hair’s belief that “the most impor­tant thing you can real­ize right now is that there are no rules in war.”

    “This war is psy­cho­log­i­cal. PSYOP,” the text from Thomas states.

    Hair said Thurs­day that she did not have any spe­cif­ic rec­ol­lec­tion of that text mes­sage.

    On Nov. 19, which would be a cru­cial day for Pow­ell as she spoke at a news con­fer­ence at the Repub­li­can Nation­al Com­mit­tee, Thomas con­tin­ued to bol­ster Powell’s stand­ing in a text to Mead­ows.

    “Mark (don’t want to wake you)… ” Thomas wrote. “Sounds like Sid­ney and her team are get­ting inun­dat­ed with evi­dence of fraud. Make a plan. Release the Krak­en and save us from the left tak­ing Amer­i­ca down.”

    “Release the Krak­en” had become a catch­phrase on the far right after the elec­tion, used as short­hand for the antic­i­pat­ed expo­sure of a vot­er fraud con­spir­a­cy that would upend Biden’s vic­to­ry with the same force as a “Krak­en,” a myth­i­cal giant sea mon­ster.

    In that same exchange, Thomas also at one point offered Mead­ows advice on man­ag­ing the West Wing staff.

    “Sug­ges­tion: You need to buck up your team on the inside, Mark,” Thomas wrote. “The low­er lev­el insid­ers are scared, fear­ful or send­ing out sig­nals of hope­less­ness vs an aware­ness of the exis­ten­tial threat to Amer­i­ca right now. You can buck them up, strength­en their spir­its.”

    “Mon­i­ca Crow­ley,” Thomas said, refer­ring to the con­ser­v­a­tive com­men­ta­tor, “may have a sense of this [from] her Nixon days.” Crow­ley, a top offi­cial in Trump’s Trea­sury Depart­ment, had been an aide to for­mer pres­i­dent Richard M. Nixon years after he resigned from office in 1974 because of the Water­gate scan­dal.

    Thomas then wrote, “You guys fold, the evil just moves fast down under­neath you all. Lots of inten­si­fy­ing threats com­ing to ACB and oth­ers.” Jus­tice Amy Coney Bar­rett, some­times called “ACB” by her sup­port­ers, had joined the Supreme Court in Octo­ber, short­ly before the elec­tion. It is unclear to what threats Thomas was refer­ring.

    Lat­er on Nov. 19, Mead­ows replied to Thomas’s long text mes­sage by say­ing, “Thanks so much.”

    But Thomas’s high aspi­ra­tions for Pow­ell quick­ly col­lapsed that after­noon. Instead of cap­tur­ing the nation’s atten­tion at the RNC news con­fer­ence, where she spoke along­side Giu­liani and oth­er Trump advis­ers, Pow­ell was crit­i­cized for spread­ing a false the­o­ry about elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines as a tool for com­mu­nists. Some Trump aides were hor­ri­fied by her and Giuliani’s per­for­mances and felt they had embar­rassed the pres­i­dent by becom­ing a par­o­dy of his post-elec­tion fight.

    As Giu­liani spoke, a dark brown liq­uid mixed with beads of sweat rolled down his cheek. “Did you watch ‘My Cousin Vin­ny?’ ” he asked reporters, tying a legal ref­er­ence to the 1992 com­e­dy.

    Thomas wrote to Mead­ows, “Tears are flow­ing at what Rudy is doing right now!!!!”

    “Glad to help,” Mead­ows replied.

    By Nov. 22, Trump gave his bless­ing for Giu­liani and anoth­er Trump lawyer, Jen­na Ellis, to issue a state­ment claim­ing that Pow­ell “is not a mem­ber of the Trump Legal Team.”

    Thomas reached out to Mead­ows that day with con­cern. “Try­ing to under­stand the Sid­ney Pow­ell dis­tanc­ing,” she wrote.

    “She doesn’t have any­thing or at least she won’t share it if she does,” Mead­ows texted back.

    “Wow!” Thomas replied.

    Mead­ows did not respond.

    On Nov. 24, Thomas engaged Mead­ows again by shar­ing a video from Par­ler, a con­ser­v­a­tive social media web­site, that appeared to refer to con­ser­v­a­tive com­men­ta­tor Glenn Beck.

    “If you all cave to the elites, you have to know that many of your 73 mil­lion feel like what Glenn is express­ing,” Thomas wrote.

    She said Trump risked his sup­port­ers grow­ing dis­en­chant­ed to the point of walk­ing away from pol­i­tics. “Me includ­ed,” she wrote. “I think I am done with pol­i­tics, and I don’t think I am alone, Mark.”

    Mead­ows replied three min­utes lat­er: “I don’t know what you mean by cav­ing to the elites.”

    Thomas respond­ed: “I can’t see Amer­i­cans swal­low­ing the obvi­ous fraud. Just going with one more thing with no frickin con­se­quences... the whole coup and now this... we just cave to peo­ple want­i­ng Biden to be anoint­ed? Many of us can’t con­tin­ue the GOP cha­rade.”

    After con­tin­ued back-and-forth, Mead­ows wrote, “You’re preach­ing to the choir. Very demor­al­iz­ing.”

    The text exchanges with Thomas that Mead­ows pro­vid­ed to the House select com­mit­tee pause after Nov. 24, 2020, with an unex­plained gap in cor­re­spon­dence. The com­mit­tee received one addi­tion­al mes­sage sent by Thomas to Mead­ows, on Jan. 10, four days after the “Stop the Steal” ral­ly Thomas said she attend­ed and the dead­ly attack on the Capi­tol.

    In that mes­sage, Thomas express­es sup­port for Mead­ows and Trump — and direct­ed anger at Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, who had refused Trump’s wish­es to block the con­gres­sion­al cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of Biden’s elec­toral col­lege vic­to­ry.

    “We are liv­ing through what feels like the end of Amer­i­ca,” Thomas wrote to Mead­ows. “Most of us are dis­gust­ed with the VP and are in lis­ten­ing mode to see where to fight with our teams. Those who attacked the Capi­tol are not rep­re­sen­ta­tive of our great teams of patri­ots for DJT!!”

    “Amaz­ing times,” she added. “The end of Lib­er­ty.”

    ————–

    “Vir­ginia Thomas urged White House chief to pur­sue unre­lent­ing efforts to over­turn the 2020 elec­tion, texts show” by Bob Wood­ward and Robert Cos­ta; The Wash­ing­ton Post; 03/24/2022

    “The mes­sages, which do not direct­ly ref­er­ence Jus­tice Thomas or the Supreme Court, show for the first time how Gin­ni Thomas used her access to Trump’s inner cir­cle to pro­mote and seek to guide the president’s strat­e­gy to over­turn the elec­tion results — and how recep­tive and grate­ful Mead­ows said he was to receive her advice. Among Thomas’s stat­ed goals in the mes­sages was for lawyer Sid­ney Pow­ell, who pro­mot­ed incen­di­ary and unsup­port­ed claims about the elec­tion, to be “the lead and the face” of Trump’s legal team.

    Make Sid­ney Pow­ell the “face” of Trump’s legal team. That was the big idea Gin­ni Thomas was push­ing almost imme­di­ate­ly in the wake of Trump’s loss. Lit­er­al­ly the first of the 29 text mes­sages sent to Mark Mead­ows was a link to a QAnon-friend­ly video along with rumors that the Biden fam­i­ly and oth­er mem­bers of the vast con­spir­a­cy to steal the elec­tion from Trump were being arrest­ed and sent off to GITMO. It’s the right-wing oli­garchic ver­sion of ‘get­ting high on your own sup­ply’, which rais­es the ques­tion of just how many mem­bers of the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy end­ed up get­ting rad­i­cal­ized by QAnon nar­ra­tives that they gen­uine­ly believe over the past few years:

    ...
    The first of the 29 mes­sages between Gin­ni Thomas and Mead­ows was sent on Nov. 5, two days after the elec­tion. She sent him a link to a YouTube video labeled “TRUMP STING w CIA Direc­tor Steve Pieczenik, The Biggest Elec­tion Sto­ry in His­to­ry, QFS-BLOCKCHAIN.”

    Pieczenik, a for­mer State Depart­ment offi­cial, is a far-right com­men­ta­tor who has false­ly claimed that the 2012 mas­sacre at Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary School in New­town, Conn., was a “false-flag” oper­a­tion to push a gun-con­trol agen­da.

    The video Thomas shared with Mead­ows is no longer avail­able on YouTube. But Thomas wrote to Mead­ows, “I hope this is true; nev­er heard any­thing like this before, or even a hint of it. Pos­si­ble???”

    “Water­marked bal­lots in over 12 states have been part of a huge Trump & mil­i­tary white hat sting oper­a­tion in 12 key bat­tle­ground states,” she wrote.

    Dur­ing that peri­od, sup­port­ers of the QAnon extrem­ist ide­ol­o­gy embraced a false the­o­ry that Trump had water­marked mail-in bal­lots so he could track poten­tial fraud. “Watch the water” was a refrain in QAnon cir­cles at the time.

    In the Nov. 5 mes­sage to Mead­ows, Thomas went on to quote a pas­sage that had cir­cu­lat­ed on right-wing web­sites: “Biden crime fam­i­ly & bal­lot fraud co-con­spir­a­tors (elect­ed offi­cials, bureau­crats, social media cen­sor­ship mon­gers, fake stream media reporters, etc) are being arrest­ed & detained for bal­lot fraud right now & over com­ing days, & will be liv­ing in barges off GITMO to face mil­i­tary tri­bunals for sedi­tion.”

    The text mes­sages received by the House select com­mit­tee do not include a response from Mead­ows.

    The next day, Nov. 6, Thomas sent a fol­low-up to Mead­ows: “Do not con­cede. It takes time for the army who is gath­er­ing for his back.”

    ...

    Mead­ows might not have been Thomas’s only con­tact inside the Trump White House that week. On Nov. 13, she texted Mead­ows about her out­reach to “Jared,” poten­tial­ly a ref­er­ence to Jared Kush­n­er, the president’s son-in-law and senior White House advis­er. She wrote, “Just for­ward­ed to yr gmail an email I sent Jared this am. Sid­ney Pow­ell & improved coor­di­na­tion now will help the cav­al­ry come and Fraud exposed and Amer­i­ca saved.” The mes­sages pro­vid­ed to the House select com­mit­tee do not show a response by Mead­ows.
    ...

    Thomas even stood by Pow­ell after Tuck­er Carl­son, of all peo­ple, began dis­tanc­ing him­self from the Pow­ell nar­ra­tive. Thomas was absolute­ly ded­i­cat­ed to Sid­ney Pow­ell and the broad­er QAnon-inspired nar­ra­tive she was lead­ing. From Thomas’s per­spec­tive, they were wag­ing a war. A war with out rules and includ­ing the deploy­ment of psy­cho­log­i­cal oper­a­tions:

    ...
    Still, while Trump cheered some of Powell’s com­men­tary, she was a polar­iz­ing fig­ure in his orbit. Her views were con­sid­ered so extreme and unsup­port­ed by evi­dence that David Bossie, a long­time Trump sup­port­er, told oth­ers that she was ped­dling “con­coct­ed B.S.” After Fox News host Tuck­er Carl­son con­tact­ed Pow­ell about her claim that elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines had switched bal­lots to Biden, he told his view­ers that he found her answers eva­sive and that she had shown no evi­dence to sup­port her asser­tion. He stopped hav­ing her on his pro­gram.

    Gin­ni Thomas stood by her. “Don’t let her and your assets be mar­gin­al­ized instead...help her be the lead and the face,” she wrote to Mead­ows on Nov. 13.

    The fol­low­ing day, Nov. 14, Thomas sent Mead­ows mate­r­i­al she said was from Con­nie Hair, chief of staff to Gohmert. It is not clear if she was pass­ing on a mes­sage from Hair or shar­ing Hair’s per­spec­tive as guid­ance for Mead­ows. The text mes­sage seems to quote Hair’s belief that “the most impor­tant thing you can real­ize right now is that there are no rules in war.”

    “This war is psy­cho­log­i­cal. PSYOP,” the text from Thomas states.

    Hair said Thurs­day that she did not have any spe­cif­ic rec­ol­lec­tion of that text mes­sage.

    On Nov. 19, which would be a cru­cial day for Pow­ell as she spoke at a news con­fer­ence at the Repub­li­can Nation­al Com­mit­tee, Thomas con­tin­ued to bol­ster Powell’s stand­ing in a text to Mead­ows.

    “Mark (don’t want to wake you)… ” Thomas wrote. “Sounds like Sid­ney and her team are get­ting inun­dat­ed with evi­dence of fraud. Make a plan. Release the Krak­en and save us from the left tak­ing Amer­i­ca down.

    “Release the Krak­en” had become a catch­phrase on the far right after the elec­tion, used as short­hand for the antic­i­pat­ed expo­sure of a vot­er fraud con­spir­a­cy that would upend Biden’s vic­to­ry with the same force as a “Krak­en,” a myth­i­cal giant sea mon­ster.
    ...

    Thomas even stood by Pow­ell after the Trump admin­is­tra­tion for­mal­ly dis­tanced itself from Pow­ell based in large part on the fact that Pow­ell clear­ly had no real evi­dence behind her claims. Thomas con­tin­ued express­ing an exas­per­at­ed sense that a mas­sive fraud had tran­spired even after Mead­ows informed her that Pow­ell nev­er actu­al­ly pro­vid­ed any evi­dence for her claims. It’s the kind of behav­ior that’s so lack­ing in integri­ty that it rais­es ques­tions as to whether or not Thomas ever tru­ly believed the stolen elec­tion nar­ra­tive or was just cyn­i­cal­ly using it as a con­ve­nient excuse to back a coup. Its the class ‘stu­pid or evil?’ conun­drum:

    ...
    By Nov. 22, Trump gave his bless­ing for Giu­liani and anoth­er Trump lawyer, Jen­na Ellis, to issue a state­ment claim­ing that Pow­ell “is not a mem­ber of the Trump Legal Team.”

    Thomas reached out to Mead­ows that day with con­cern. “Try­ing to under­stand the Sid­ney Pow­ell dis­tanc­ing,” she wrote.

    “She doesn’t have any­thing or at least she won’t share it if she does,” Mead­ows texted back.

    “Wow!” Thomas replied.

    Mead­ows did not respond.

    On Nov. 24, Thomas engaged Mead­ows again by shar­ing a video from Par­ler, a con­ser­v­a­tive social media web­site, that appeared to refer to con­ser­v­a­tive com­men­ta­tor Glenn Beck.

    “If you all cave to the elites, you have to know that many of your 73 mil­lion feel like what Glenn is express­ing,” Thomas wrote.

    She said Trump risked his sup­port­ers grow­ing dis­en­chant­ed to the point of walk­ing away from pol­i­tics. “Me includ­ed,” she wrote. “I think I am done with pol­i­tics, and I don’t think I am alone, Mark.”

    Mead­ows replied three min­utes lat­er: “I don’t know what you mean by cav­ing to the elites.”

    Thomas respond­ed: “I can’t see Amer­i­cans swal­low­ing the obvi­ous fraud. Just going with one more thing with no frickin con­se­quences... the whole coup and now this... we just cave to peo­ple want­i­ng Biden to be anoint­ed? Many of us can’t con­tin­ue the GOP cha­rade.”
    ...

    But, of course, Gin­ni isn’t just an key orga­niz­ing fig­ure in the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment and mem­ber of the CNP. She’s the wife of a sit­ting Supreme Court jus­tice. And despite her absurd claims to the con­trary, it’s pret­ty damn obvi­ous she had a mas­sive con­flict of inter­est when send­ing those texts to Mead­ows. A mas­sive con­flict of inter­est that was then passed along to her hus­band on any rul­ings involv­ing the elec­tion:

    ...
    On Nov. 10, after news orga­ni­za­tions had pro­ject­ed Joe Biden the win­ner based on state vote totals, Thomas wrote to Mead­ows: “Help This Great Pres­i­dent stand firm, Mark!!!...You are the leader, with him, who is stand­ing for America’s con­sti­tu­tion­al gov­er­nance at the precipice. The major­i­ty knows Biden and the Left is attempt­ing the great­est Heist of our His­to­ry.”

    When Mead­ows wrote to Thomas on Nov. 24, the White House chief of staff invoked God to describe the effort to over­turn the elec­tion. “This is a fight of good ver­sus evil,” Mead­ows wrote. “Evil always looks like the vic­tor until the King of Kings tri­umphs. Do not grow weary in well doing. The fight con­tin­ues. I have staked my career on it. Well at least my time in DC on it.”

    Thomas replied: “Thank you!! Need­ed that! This plus a con­ver­sa­tion with my best friend just now… I will try to keep hold­ing on. Amer­i­ca is worth it!”

    It is unclear to whom Thomas was refer­ring.

    ...

    Trump spoke pub­licly dur­ing this peri­od about his intent to con­test the elec­tion results in the Supreme Court. “This is a major fraud on our nation,” the pres­i­dent said in a speech at 2:30 the morn­ing after the elec­tion. “We want the law to be used in a prop­er man­ner. So we’ll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

    Thomas has pub­licly denied any con­flict of inter­est between her activism and her husband’s work on the Supreme Court. “Clarence doesn’t dis­cuss his work with me, and I don’t involve him in my work,” she said in an inter­view with the Wash­ing­ton Free Bea­con, a con­ser­v­a­tive out­let, for an arti­cle pub­lished March 14.

    Gin­ni Thomas, in that inter­view, also acknowl­edged that she had attend­ed Trump’s “Stop the Steal” ral­ly at the Ellipse near the White House on Jan. 6, but said that she left ear­ly because it was too cold and that she did not have any role in plan­ning the event.

    Jus­tice Thomas, 73, is the Supreme Court’s longest-serv­ing cur­rent jus­tice and has missed oral argu­ments this week because of his hos­pi­tal­iza­tion. He has made few pub­lic com­ments about the 2020 elec­tion. In Feb­ru­ary 2021, when the Supreme Court reject­ed elec­tion chal­lenges filed by Trump and his allies, Thomas wrote in a dis­sent that it was “baf­fling” and “inex­plic­a­ble” that the major­i­ty had decid­ed against hear­ing the cas­es because he believed the Supreme Court should pro­vide states with guid­ance for future elec­tions.
    ...

    And note the oth­er CNP mem­ber Thomas was also pro­mot­ing at this time: Cle­ta Mitchell, one of the lead­ing fig­ures pro­mot­ing legal jus­ti­fi­ca­tions for over­turn­ing the elec­tion results. As we’re pre­vi­ous­ly seen, Mitchell and Thomas were known to be work­ing close­ly dur­ing this time. It’s just one more piece of evi­dence point­ing towards the CNP play­ing a key orga­ni­za­tion­al role in devis­ing the strate­gies for over­turn­ing elec­tions:

    ...
    On Nov. 10, Thomas drew a reply from Mead­ows. She wrote, “Mark, I want­ed to text you and tell you for days you are in my prayers!!” She con­tin­ued by urg­ing him to “Help This Great Pres­i­dent stand firm” and invok­ing “the great­est Heist of our His­to­ry.”

    Thomas added in the mes­sage that Mead­ows should “Lis­ten to Rush. Mark Steyn, Bongi­no, Cle­ta” — appear­ing to refer to con­ser­v­a­tive com­men­ta­tors Rush Lim­baugh, Mark Steyn and Dan Bongi­no, as well as lawyer Cle­ta Mitchell, who was involved in Trump’s push to claim vic­to­ry in Geor­gia despite Biden’s cer­ti­fied win there.
    ...

    But as we’ve also seen, Cle­ta Mitchell was just one of the ‘respectable’ con­ser­v­a­tive lawyers pro­mot­ing these schemes, with John East­man of the Clare­mont Insti­tute play­ing a major role. So was there any known con­tact between East­man and Gin­ni Thomas dur­ing this same peri­od? No direct evi­dence has emerged. But as the fol­low­ing arti­cle describes, there’s plen­ty of indi­rect evi­dence point­ing in that direc­tion.

    But there’s anoth­er mys­tery raised in the fol­low­ing arti­cle involv­ing East­man’s poten­tial com­mu­ni­ca­tions with both Gin­ni and Clarence Thomas: The schemes East­man was push­ing all involv­ing Mike Pence refus­ing to cer­ti­fy the elec­tion results on Jan 6, guar­an­tee­ing a Supreme Court chal­lenge. And while East­man appeared to be con­fi­dent that Clarence Thomas, and maybe one oth­er Supreme Court Jus­tice, would ulti­mate­ly side with them, that was it. Even East­man only expect a max­i­mum of two of the nine Supreme Court jus­tices rul­ing in their favor. At least that’s the pic­ture that emerges from the com­mu­ni­ca­tions between East­man and Pence’s legal coun­sel, Greg Jacobs, dur­ing the days lead­ing up to Jan 6. Jacobs viewed East­man’s schemes as guar­an­teed to bring a 9–0 rul­ing against them, while East­man felt that it might be a 7–2 rul­ing, with Clarence Thomas mak­ing up one of the two dis­sent­ing votes (and Jus­tice Ali­to like­ly being the oth­er one). So even the legal ‘schol­ar’ who devised the scheme at the heart of Jan 6 did­n’t believe he could win in the courts. Which rais­es the obvi­ous ques­tion of how exact­ly East­man was envi­sion­ing Trump ulti­mate­ly win­ning:

    Politi­co

    Gin­ni Thomas’ West Wing con­tacts raise new ques­tions for anoth­er Trump ally: John East­man

    The Jan. 6 select com­mit­tee has evi­dence that East­man expect­ed Jus­tice Clarence Thomas to back his dubi­ous legal the­o­ry to block Joe Biden’s vic­to­ry.

    By Kyle Cheney
    03/26/2022 04:34 PM EDT

    Gin­ni Thomas’ unfet­tered access to Don­ald Trump’s chief of staff — and poten­tial­ly oth­ers in his West Wing — rais­es new ques­tions about anoth­er fig­ure at the cen­ter of Trump’s gam­bit to sub­vert the 2020 elec­tion: attor­ney John East­man.

    East­man spent the final weeks of Trump’s pres­i­den­cy dri­ving a strat­e­gy to pres­sure then-Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence to stop Con­gress from cer­ti­fy­ing Joe Biden’s vic­to­ry, a plan that relied on legal the­o­ries so extreme the Jan. 6 select com­mit­tee says they could amount to crim­i­nal con­spir­a­cy and fraud.

    The select com­mit­tee has evi­dence that when a top Pence aide chal­lenged Eastman’s plan on Jan. 4, 2021, East­man ini­tial­ly told him he believed two Supreme Court jus­tices would back him up. One of them was Gin­ni Thomas’ hus­band, Jus­tice Clarence Thomas.

    Eastman’s asser­tion, described by Pence’s coun­sel Greg Jacob to the select com­mit­tee ear­li­er this year, appeared to be a guess based on analy­sis of Thomas’ long legal career. East­man had rea­son to know Thomas’ views well: He clerked for the George H.W. Bush appointee in the 1990s before becom­ing a main­stay in deeply con­ser­v­a­tive legal cir­cles.

    But the rev­e­la­tion that Thomas’ wife kept in con­tact with Trump’s chief of staff Mark Mead­ows in the weeks after Trump’s defeat — press­ing him to keep try­ing to over­turn the elec­tion — adds a new wrin­kle to the time­line. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D‑Md.) told POLITICO that the new details raise impor­tant ques­tions about whether East­man had a spe­cif­ic rea­son to believe Jus­tice Thomas would sup­port his rad­i­cal gam­bit, or if he was sim­ply voic­ing a hunch.

    Eastman’s attor­ney Charles Burn­ham did not respond to ques­tions about whether East­man main­tained ties to the Thomases or com­mu­ni­cat­ed with either of them in the after­math of Trump’s 2020 defeat. There’s no known evi­dence that East­man was direct­ly in touch with either of the Thomases dur­ing his cam­paign to pres­sure Pence to sub­vert the results.

    But the con­ser­v­a­tive legal schol­ar has tak­en pains to avoid reveal­ing his inter­ac­tions in that time­frame.

    East­man has sued the Jan. 6 select com­mit­tee to pre­vent them from enforc­ing a sub­poe­na for his records and tes­ti­mo­ny. He’s also sued his for­mer employ­er, Chap­man Uni­ver­si­ty, to pre­vent the school from turn­ing over thou­sands of pages of his emails to the select com­mit­tee. And when East­man appeared before the com­mit­tee last year, he embraced a blan­ket strat­e­gy to resist their ques­tions: plead­ing the Fifth.

    ...

    Oth­er than Trump, East­man has proven to be the most sig­nif­i­cant fig­ure in the select committee’s inves­ti­ga­tion, one the panel’s top lawyer — House Gen­er­al Coun­sel Dou­glas Let­ter — called the “cen­tral play­er in the devel­op­ment of a legal strat­e­gy to jus­ti­fy a coup.”

    The pan­el is engaged in exten­sive, hard-fought lit­i­ga­tion to obtain Eastman’s Chap­man Uni­ver­si­ty emails, and it is await­ing a fed­er­al judge’s deci­sion about whether East­man can con­tin­ue to shield them behind claims of attor­ney-client priv­i­lege. While the pan­el says it has put some of its legal fights on the back burn­er, Let­ter has remained fixed on win­ning the bat­tle against East­man. And the select com­mit­tee used the fight to pub­licly unload some of its key evi­dence, includ­ing excerpts of inter­view tran­scripts with East­man and Jacob, Pence’s coun­sel.

    The com­mit­tee says East­man has failed to show he had a legit­i­mate attor­ney-client rela­tion­ship with Trump, and that even if he did, the House’s need for the doc­u­ments requires waiv­ing the priv­i­lege. House lawyers argued in court papers that East­man may have con­spired with Trump to com­mit mul­ti­ple crimes — includ­ing felony obstruc­tion of Con­gress — in the after­math of the elec­tion.

    Eastman’s the­o­ry cen­tered on Pence, who was required by the Con­sti­tu­tion to pre­side over a joint ses­sion of Con­gress to count the votes cast by the Elec­toral Col­lege. Though it’s typ­i­cal­ly a cer­e­mo­ni­al event, East­man devel­oped a the­o­ry — and con­vinced Trump to back him — that Pence could sim­ply refuse to count the votes of sev­er­al key states Biden won. The most extreme ver­sion of his plan called for Pence to sim­ply declare Trump the win­ner on the spot. The ver­sion East­man sug­gest­ed would have buy-in from Thomas, accord­ing to Jacob, would have had Pence post­pone the count and ask GOP state leg­is­la­tures in Biden-won states to con­sid­er replac­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic elec­tors with Trump loy­al­ists.

    Jacob told the select com­mit­tee that when East­man pushed this idea, he replied, “If this case got to the Supreme Court, we’d lose 9–0, wouldn’t we, if we actu­al­ly took your posi­tion and it got up there?”

    East­man said he actu­al­ly believed the court would vote 7–2, Jacob recalled.

    “And I said, ‘Who are the two?’ And he said, ‘Well, I think maybe Clarence Thomas.’ And I said, ‘Real­ly? Clarence Thomas?’ And so we went through a few Thomas opin­ions and, final­ly, he acknowl­edged, ‘yeah, all right, it would be 9–0.’”

    Jacob told the com­mit­tee he couldn’t remem­ber the oth­er jus­tice East­man had men­tioned as a poten­tial vote in Trump’s favor.

    How­ev­er, in a Dec. 11 rul­ing, Jus­tice Samuel Ali­to joined Thomas, split­ting from the rest of the court, to say they would have dock­et­ed a chal­lenge some con­ser­v­a­tive states brought against elec­tion pro­ce­dures in more lib­er­al ones. Both jus­tices indi­cat­ed, though, that they wouldn’t have stepped in to grant the emer­gency relief the red states sought.

    Thomas’ more recent vote against the select committee’s effort to obtain Trump-relat­ed records through the Nation­al Archives — he was the lone dis­sent — has sparked renewed con­tro­ver­sy in light of the emer­gence of his wife’s mes­sages with Mead­ows. Though it’s not clear any of her cor­re­spon­dence were, or should have been, includ­ed in the Archives files, it has sparked ques­tions about whether Thomas should have recused from the mat­ter.

    When East­man appeared before the com­mit­tee to plead the Fifth, com­mit­tee coun­sel John Wood asked him about Jacob’s view that not a sin­gle Supreme Court jus­tice would have sup­port­ed Eastman’s plan.

    “Dr. East­man, did you, in fact, agree with Mr. Jacob that not a sin­gle mem­ber of the Supreme Court would sup­port your posi­tion?” Wood asked.

    “Fifth,” East­man replied

    “And, Dr. East­man, which posi­tion was that that Mr. Jacobs said not a sin­gle mem­ber of the Supreme Court would sup­port?” Wood asked.

    “Fifth,” East­man said again.

    On Jan. 6, as riot­ers bore down on the Capi­tol, East­man and Jacob engaged in a tense email exchange, in which Jacob accused East­man of being a “ser­pent in the ear” of the pres­i­dent and encour­ag­ing him to embrace unsup­port­able legal the­o­ries. He reit­er­at­ed his belief that no jus­tice of the Supreme Court or appeals court judge would have agreed with Eastman’s strat­e­gy.

    East­man replied that he dis­agreed, argu­ing that if Pence had post­poned the ses­sion and called on the state leg­is­la­tures to act, the courts may have demurred.

    “I remain of the view not only would that have been the most pru­dent course … but also had a fair chance of being approved (or at least not enjoined) by the courts,” East­man wrote.

    After anoth­er brief dis­agree­ment, East­man closed his email exchange with Jacob: “When this is over, we should have a good bot­tle of wine over a nice din­ner some­place.”

    ———–

    “Gin­ni Thomas’ West Wing con­tacts raise new ques­tions for anoth­er Trump ally: John East­man” by Kyle Cheney; Politi­co; 03/26/2022

    “East­man spent the final weeks of Trump’s pres­i­den­cy dri­ving a strat­e­gy to pres­sure then-Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence to stop Con­gress from cer­ti­fy­ing Joe Biden’s vic­to­ry, a plan that relied on legal the­o­ries so extreme the Jan. 6 select com­mit­tee says they could amount to crim­i­nal con­spir­a­cy and fraud.

    East­man’s plan has so lit­tle real legal jus­ti­fi­ca­tion behind it that it could amount to a crim­i­nal con­spir­a­cy and fraud. Did that crim­i­nal con­spir­a­cy include active col­lu­sion with Gin­ni Thomas? HOw about Clarence Thomas? These are some of the ques­tions raised by the rev­e­la­tions about Gin­ni Thomas’s exten­sive com­mu­ni­ca­tions with Mark Mead­ows pro­mot­ing legal strate­gies that were more or less in line with what East­man was advis­ing. And while there’s no avail­able evi­dence indi­cat­ing that Gin­ni Thomas was direct­ly com­mu­ni­cat­ing with East­man, the facts are that East­man has been block­ing the release of his com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Clarence Thomas appears to be the most sym­pa­thet­ic jus­tice towards those efforts to block doc­u­ments from inves­ti­ga­tors. It’s more than a lit­tle sus­pi­cious:

    ...
    Eastman’s asser­tion, described by Pence’s coun­sel Greg Jacob to the select com­mit­tee ear­li­er this year, appeared to be a guess based on analy­sis of Thomas’ long legal career. East­man had rea­son to know Thomas’ views well: He clerked for the George H.W. Bush appointee in the 1990s before becom­ing a main­stay in deeply con­ser­v­a­tive legal cir­cles.

    But the rev­e­la­tion that Thomas’ wife kept in con­tact with Trump’s chief of staff Mark Mead­ows in the weeks after Trump’s defeat — press­ing him to keep try­ing to over­turn the elec­tion — adds a new wrin­kle to the time­line. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D‑Md.) told POLITICO that the new details raise impor­tant ques­tions about whether East­man had a spe­cif­ic rea­son to believe Jus­tice Thomas would sup­port his rad­i­cal gam­bit, or if he was sim­ply voic­ing a hunch.

    Eastman’s attor­ney Charles Burn­ham did not respond to ques­tions about whether East­man main­tained ties to the Thomases or com­mu­ni­cat­ed with either of them in the after­math of Trump’s 2020 defeat. There’s no known evi­dence that East­man was direct­ly in touch with either of the Thomases dur­ing his cam­paign to pres­sure Pence to sub­vert the results.

    But the con­ser­v­a­tive legal schol­ar has tak­en pains to avoid reveal­ing his inter­ac­tions in that time­frame.

    East­man has sued the Jan. 6 select com­mit­tee to pre­vent them from enforc­ing a sub­poe­na for his records and tes­ti­mo­ny. He’s also sued his for­mer employ­er, Chap­man Uni­ver­si­ty, to pre­vent the school from turn­ing over thou­sands of pages of his emails to the select com­mit­tee. And when East­man appeared before the com­mit­tee last year, he embraced a blan­ket strat­e­gy to resist their ques­tions: plead­ing the Fifth.

    ...

    Thomas’ more recent vote against the select committee’s effort to obtain Trump-relat­ed records through the Nation­al Archives — he was the lone dis­sent — has sparked renewed con­tro­ver­sy in light of the emer­gence of his wife’s mes­sages with Mead­ows. Though it’s not clear any of her cor­re­spon­dence were, or should have been, includ­ed in the Archives files, it has sparked ques­tions about whether Thomas should have recused from the mat­ter.
    ...

    But per­haps the biggest mys­tery in this sto­ry is what exact­ly was East­man hop­ing to accom­plish even if he did man­aged to secure Clarence Thomas’s sup­port in any legal chal­lenges for the court? It would still just be one vote. Not remote­ly enough to win the case. And yet when we hear about the con­tentious meet­ing between East­man and Mike Pence’s legal coun­sel, it was an argu­ment over whether or not it was be a 9–0 or 7–2 rul­ing against East­man’s side should Pence go along with East­man’s plans of refus­ing to cer­ti­fy the elec­tion results on Jan 6:

    ...
    Eastman’s the­o­ry cen­tered on Pence, who was required by the Con­sti­tu­tion to pre­side over a joint ses­sion of Con­gress to count the votes cast by the Elec­toral Col­lege. Though it’s typ­i­cal­ly a cer­e­mo­ni­al event, East­man devel­oped a the­o­ry — and con­vinced Trump to back him — that Pence could sim­ply refuse to count the votes of sev­er­al key states Biden won. The most extreme ver­sion of his plan called for Pence to sim­ply declare Trump the win­ner on the spot. The ver­sion East­man sug­gest­ed would have buy-in from Thomas, accord­ing to Jacob, would have had Pence post­pone the count and ask GOP state leg­is­la­tures in Biden-won states to con­sid­er replac­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic elec­tors with Trump loy­al­ists.

    Jacob told the select com­mit­tee that when East­man pushed this idea, he replied, “If this case got to the Supreme Court, we’d lose 9–0, wouldn’t we, if we actu­al­ly took your posi­tion and it got up there?”

    East­man said he actu­al­ly believed the court would vote 7–2, Jacob recalled.

    “And I said, ‘Who are the two?’ And he said, ‘Well, I think maybe Clarence Thomas.’ And I said, ‘Real­ly? Clarence Thomas?’ And so we went through a few Thomas opin­ions and, final­ly, he acknowl­edged, ‘yeah, all right, it would be 9–0.’”

    ...

    On Jan. 6, as riot­ers bore down on the Capi­tol, East­man and Jacob engaged in a tense email exchange, in which Jacob accused East­man of being a “ser­pent in the ear” of the pres­i­dent and encour­ag­ing him to embrace unsup­port­able legal the­o­ries. He reit­er­at­ed his belief that no jus­tice of the Supreme Court or appeals court judge would have agreed with Eastman’s strat­e­gy.

    East­man replied that he dis­agreed, argu­ing that if Pence had post­poned the ses­sion and called on the state leg­is­la­tures to act, the courts may have demurred.

    “I remain of the view not only would that have been the most pru­dent course … but also had a fair chance of being approved (or at least not enjoined) by the courts,” East­man wrote.

    After anoth­er brief dis­agree­ment, East­man closed his email exchange with Jacob: “When this is over, we should have a good bot­tle of wine over a nice din­ner some­place.”
    ...

    So what was the rest of the plan for over­turn­ing the elec­tion results if the plan includ­ed ulti­mate­ly los­ing 7–2 at the Supreme Court? It’s the kind of mys­tery that sug­gests far more rad­i­cal post-Jan 6 plans were already envi­sioned. Mar­tial law? Oath Keep­ers and Proud Boys tak­ing to the streets to impose order? Now that we’re learn­ing that even John East­man did­n’t expect his schemes to pass legal muster, it’s clear that East­man’s scheme to have Mike Pence refuse the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of the vote on Jan 6 was just one more step in an effort to buy time. But if they had no real legal back­ing, for what were they try­ing to buy time? Let’s hope inves­ti­ga­tors can even­tu­al­ly deter­mine an answer to that ques­tion. In the mean time, it’s hard to ignore Gin­ni Thomas’s Nov 6 text to Mead­ows: “Do not con­cede. It takes time for the army who is gath­er­ing for his back.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 27, 2022, 8:32 pm
  14. How much more bla­tant will the coverup get? That’s the over­ar­ch­ing ques­tion raised by a pair of recent reports on the sta­tus of the inves­ti­ga­tion into the Jan­u­ary 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion. Because each time it seems like it can’t get any more bla­tant, we get a new report that dumps even more cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence in our laps point­ing towards a plan to not only White House block records from inves­ti­ga­tors but pre­vent the cre­ation of those records in the first place. You almost could­n’t ask for more com­pelling cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence of a pre­med­i­tat­ed plot:

    First, there was a report out the Wash­ing­ton Post about a sev­en hour gap in the Jan 6 White House call logs. A sev­en hour gap that starts at 11:17 am and goes until 6:54 pm. So the gap basi­cal­ly cov­ers the peri­od of time right before the start of the insur­rec­tion until not long after it was over. It’s about as sus­pi­cious a gap in the logs as you could get.

    Adding to the sus­pi­cions is the fact the 11:17am call was to a still unknown per­son, which is part of why inves­ti­ga­tors are tak­ing a clos­er took at the use of untrace­able “burn­er” phones. Recall how we learned back in Decem­ber how three burn­er phones pur­chased by the two key orga­niz­ers of the “Stop the Steal” ral­ly at the Ellipse on Jan­u­ary 6: CNP mem­ber Amy Kre­mer and her daugh­ter Kylie Kre­mer. Accord­ing to those reports, one phone was used by Kylie to com­mu­ni­cate with fig­ures in the White House like Eric Trump, Mark Mead­ows, and Kat­ri­na Pier­son. The sec­ond phone was used by Amy Kre­mer and anoth­er ral­ly orga­niz­er. It’s not known who received the third burn­er phone. True to form, Trump respond­ed to the report by assert­ing that he’s nev­er heard of a “burn­er” phone and has no idea what that even is, a claim John Bolton has already debunked. Accord­ing to Bolton, Trump has spo­ken with him per­son­al­ly about how burn­er phones can be used to avoid hav­ing your calls scru­ti­nized.

    And then a few days lat­er we got report out of CNN about the White House diarist inform­ing inves­ti­ga­tors that there was a “dra­mat­ic depar­ture” in the White House­’s will­ing­ness to present the diarist about Pres­i­dent Trump’s activ­i­ties start­ing on Jan 5. They were effec­tive “iced out” at that point, receiv­ing almost no infor­ma­tion about what the pres­i­dent was doing.

    We’re also told in this report that Trump start­ed spend­ing much more in the White House res­i­den­cy dur­ing this time. This relates back to those ear­li­er reports about secret off-the-books meet­ings held in the White House res­i­den­cy in the weeks and days lead­ing up to Jan 6, most­ly orga­nized by Chief of Staff Mark Mead­ows. Addi­tion­al­ly, we’ve learned that the Nation­al Archiv­ing ser­vice only archived calls make from the White House­’s West Wing, but not calls made from the White House res­i­den­cy. And Trump was known to have made calls in the days lead­ing up to the insur­rec­tion from both the West West and the res­i­den­cy.

    So over­all, we’ve learned that the Trump White House appar­ent­ly took pre­emp­tive steps to cov­er its tracks. Bla­tant pre­emp­tive steps that have now pro­duced call records with an absurd sev­en hour gap and an “iced out” White House diarist.

    There was anoth­er inter­est­ing wrin­kle to pop up in the Wash­ing­ton Post report: While the sev­en hour gap leaves a mys­tery as to who Trump spoke with dur­ing the insur­rec­tion, the avail­able call logs tell us a least a bit about about who he was call­ing that day. Many of them are fig­ures we would prob­a­bly expect giv­en the cir­cum­stances, like CNP-mem­ber Steve Ban­non, Fox New host Sean Han­ni­ty, and then-Geor­gia Sen­a­tor David Per­due. But there was anoth­er rather sur­pris­ing name that comes up: con­ser­v­a­tive pun­dit Bill Ben­nett. It rais­es the ques­tion of why Ben­nett? Of all the ran­dom peo­ple to call on that day, of what val­ue is there is con­tact­ing some­one like Ben­nett who is best known as a con­ser­v­a­tive theo­crat hyper-focused on the main­tain­ing a dom­i­nant role for con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­tian­i­ty in Amer­i­ca.

    Why would Trump con­tact Bill Ben­nett on that day? Was Ben­nett a con­duit of some sort? Giv­en the enor­mous pres­ence of CNP mem­bers in this entire scheme, and the close ide­o­log­i­cal align­ment between Ben­nett and the CNP, it’s worth not­ing that while Ben­nett isn’t on the leaked list of CNP mem­bers, Rush Lim­baugh claimed dur­ing an inter­view of then-Pres­i­dent Trump in August of 2020 to have seen Ben­nett at a CNP event. And real­ly, giv­en his back­ground, it would be kind of shock­ing if Ben­nett was­n’t at least affil­i­at­ed with the group. But the fact that Trump was speak­ing with Ben­nett on Jan 6 real­ly rais­es the ques­tion of why him? Those ques­tions, and the fact that so many oth­er CNP mem­bers are involved with this scheme, are part of why Ben­net­t’s affil­i­a­tion with the CNP are rel­e­vant to this inves­ti­ga­tion and why the broad­er net­work of theocrats asso­ci­at­ed with the CNP should remain a prime sus­pect in this entire affair.

    Ok, first, here’s the Wash­ing­ton Post piece about the mys­te­ri­ous sev­en hour gap in the White House call logs and the renewed inter­est in the pos­si­ble use of “burn­er” phones. A sev­en hour gap that starts with the 11:17 am call to a still unknown indi­vid­ual and does­n’t end until after the insur­rec­tion is final­ly over:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    Jan. 6 White House logs giv­en to House show 7‑hour gap in Trump calls
    The House select com­mit­tee is now inves­ti­gat­ing whether it has the full record and whether Trump com­mu­ni­cat­ed that day through back chan­nels, phones of aides or per­son­al dis­pos­able phones, accord­ing to peo­ple famil­iar with the probe

    By Bob Wood­ward and Robert Cos­ta
    March 29, 2022|Updated March 29, 2022 at 3:42 p.m. EDT

    Inter­nal White House records from the day of the attack on the U.S. Capi­tol that were turned over to the House select com­mit­tee show a gap in Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s phone logs of sev­en hours and 37 min­utes, includ­ing the peri­od when the build­ing was being vio­lent­ly assault­ed, accord­ing to doc­u­ments obtained by The Wash­ing­ton Post and CBS News.

    The lack of an offi­cial White House nota­tion of any calls placed to or by Trump for 457 min­utes on Jan. 6, 2021 — from 11:17 a.m. to 6:54 p.m. — means the com­mit­tee has no record of his phone con­ver­sa­tions as his sup­port­ers descend­ed on the Capi­tol, bat­tled over­whelmed police and forcibly entered the build­ing, prompt­ing law­mak­ers and Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence to flee for safe­ty.

    The 11 pages of records, which con­sist of the president’s offi­cial dai­ly diary and the White House switch­board call logs, were turned over by the Nation­al Archives ear­li­er this year to the House select com­mit­tee inves­ti­gat­ing the Jan. 6 attack.

    The records show that Trump was active on the phone for part of the day, doc­u­ment­ing con­ver­sa­tions that he had with at least eight peo­ple in the morn­ing and 11 peo­ple that evening. The sev­en-hour gap also stands in stark con­trast to the exten­sive pub­lic report­ing about phone con­ver­sa­tions he had with allies dur­ing the attack, such as a call Trump made to Sen. Mike Lee (R‑Utah) — seek­ing to talk to Sen. Tom­my Tuberville (R‑Ala.) — and a phone con­ver­sa­tion he had with House Minor­i­ty Leader Kevin McCarthy (R‑Calif.).

    The House pan­el is now inves­ti­gat­ing whether Trump com­mu­ni­cat­ed that day through back chan­nels, phones of aides or per­son­al dis­pos­able phones, known as “burn­er phones,” accord­ing to two peo­ple with knowl­edge of the probe, who, like oth­ers inter­viewed for this report, spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty to dis­cuss sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion. The com­mit­tee is also scru­ti­niz­ing whether it received the full logs from that day.

    One law­mak­er on the pan­el said the com­mit­tee is inves­ti­gat­ing a “pos­si­ble coverup” of the offi­cial White House record from that day. Anoth­er per­son close to the com­mit­tee said the large gap in the records is of “intense inter­est” to some law­mak­ers on the com­mit­tee, many of whom have reviewed copies of the doc­u­ments. Both spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty because they were not autho­rized to dis­cuss inter­nal com­mit­tee delib­er­a­tions.

    [see Page 3 of 5 from the White House Dai­ly Diary of Pres­i­dent Don­ald J. Trump]

    [see Page 4 of 5 from the White House Dai­ly Diary of Pres­i­dent Don­ald J. Trump]

    The records show that for­mer White House chief strate­gist Stephen K. Ban­non — who said on his Jan. 5 pod­cast that “all hell is going to break loose tomor­row” — spoke with Trump twice on Jan. 6. In a call that morn­ing, Ban­non urged Trump to con­tin­ue to pres­sure Pence to block con­gres­sion­al cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of Joe Biden’s vic­to­ry in the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, accord­ing to peo­ple famil­iar with the exchange.

    Trump was known for using dif­fer­ent phones when he was in the White House, accord­ing to peo­ple famil­iar with his activ­i­ties. Occa­sion­al­ly, when he made out­bound calls, the num­ber would show up as the White House switchboard’s num­ber, accord­ing to a for­mer Trump Cab­i­net offi­cial. Oth­er times, he would call from dif­fer­ent num­bers — or no num­ber would appear on the recipient’s phone, the offi­cial said.

    ...

    A Trump spokes­woman said that Trump had noth­ing to do with the records and had assumed any and all of his phone calls were record­ed and pre­served.

    In a state­ment Mon­day night, Trump said, “I have no idea what a burn­er phone is, to the best of my knowl­edge I have nev­er even heard the term.”

    One for­mer Trump White House offi­cial dis­put­ed that. In an inter­view Tues­day after­noon, for­mer nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er John Bolton said that he recalls Trump using the term “burn­er phones” in sev­er­al dis­cus­sions and that Trump was aware of its mean­ing. Bolton said he and Trump have spo­ken about how peo­ple have used burn­er phones to avoid hav­ing their calls scru­ti­nized.

    In a recent court fil­ing, the Jan. 6 com­mit­tee assert­ed it has “a good-faith basis for con­clud­ing that the Pres­i­dent and mem­bers of his Cam­paign engaged in a crim­i­nal con­spir­a­cy to defraud the Unit­ed States” and obstruct the count­ing of elec­toral votes by Con­gress.

    A fed­er­al judge said in a rul­ing Mon­day that Trump “more like­ly than not” com­mit­ted a fed­er­al crime in try­ing to obstruct the con­gres­sion­al count of elec­toral col­lege votes on Jan. 6. The rul­ing was regard­ing emails that con­ser­v­a­tive lawyer John East­man, a Trump ally, had resist­ed turn­ing over to the Jan. 6 com­mit­tee.

    A Trump spokesman called the rul­ing “absurd and base­less.”

    Five of the pages in the White House records obtained by the House com­mit­tee are titled “The Dai­ly Diary of Pres­i­dent Don­ald J. Trump” and detail some of Trump’s phone calls and move­ments on Jan. 6. The remain­ing six pages are titled “Pres­i­den­tial Call Log” and have infor­ma­tion pro­vid­ed by the White House switch­board and aides, includ­ing phone num­bers and notes on the time and dura­tion of some calls.

    Those records were giv­en to the com­mit­tee by the Nation­al Archives ear­li­er this year after the Supreme Court reject­ed Trump’s request for the court to block the com­mit­tee from obtain­ing White House doc­u­ments from Jan. 6.

    The Pres­i­den­tial Records Act requires the preser­va­tion of mem­os, let­ters, notes, emails, fax­es and oth­er writ­ten com­mu­ni­ca­tions relat­ed to a president’s offi­cial duties. The Nation­al Archives web­site states the pres­i­den­tial diary should be a “chrono­log­i­cal record of the President’s move­ments, phone calls, trips” and meet­ings.

    In Jan­u­ary, The Post first report­ed that some of the Trump White House records turned over to the com­mit­tee were poten­tial­ly incom­plete, includ­ing records that had been ripped up and taped back togeth­er. The New York Times first report­ed in Feb­ru­ary on the committee’s dis­cov­ery of gaps in the White House phone logs from Jan. 6, but it did not spec­i­fy when or for how long on that day. CNN first report­ed that “sev­er­al hours” in Trump’s records pro­vid­ed to the com­mit­tee lacked any nota­tion of phone calls.

    The doc­u­ments obtained by the com­mit­tee show Trump hav­ing sev­er­al pre­vi­ous­ly unre­port­ed exchanges on Jan. 6, includ­ing brief calls with Ban­non and per­son­al lawyer Rudy Giu­liani that morn­ing, before Trump had a final call with Pence, in which the vice pres­i­dent told him he was not going to block Con­gress from for­mal­iz­ing Biden’s vic­to­ry. The call to the vice pres­i­dent was part of Trump’s attempt to put into motion a plan, advo­cat­ed by Ban­non and out­lined in a memo writ­ten by con­ser­v­a­tive lawyer John East­man, that would enable Trump to hold on to the pres­i­den­cy, as first report­ed in the book “Per­il.”

    [see Excerpt from the Pres­i­den­tial Call Log of Jan. 6, 2021]

    [see Excerpt from the Pres­i­den­tial Call Log of Jan. 6, 2021]

    Accord­ing to White House records, Ban­non and Trump spoke at 8:37 a.m. on Jan. 6. Trump spoke with Giu­liani around 8:45 a.m. At 8:56 a.m., Trump asked the White House switch­board to call Chief of Staff Mark Mead­ows. Then, at 9:02 a.m., Trump asked the oper­a­tor to place a call to Pence. The oper­a­tor informed him that a mes­sage was left for the vice pres­i­dent.

    Bannon’s first Jan. 6 call with Trump last­ed for about one minute, accord­ing to the doc­u­ments. Dur­ing that con­ver­sa­tion, Ban­non asked Trump whether Pence was com­ing over for a break­fast meet­ing, accord­ing to two peo­ple famil­iar with the exchange. Ban­non hoped Trump could pres­sure the vice pres­i­dent over break­fast to agree to thwart the con­gres­sion­al cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of Biden’s vic­to­ry, the peo­ple said.

    But Trump told Ban­non that Pence was not sched­uled to come to the White House fol­low­ing a heat­ed meet­ing Trump and Pence had the pre­vi­ous evening, Jan. 5, in the Oval Office. Ban­non quick­ly pressed Trump that he need­ed to call Pence and tell him again to hold off on doing any­thing that would enable cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. Trump agreed, the peo­ple said.

    Accord­ing to the White House phone logs, Ban­non and Trump spoke again late on Jan. 6 in a call that began at 10:19 p.m. and end­ed at 10:26 p.m.

    ...

    Ban­non, a cen­tral play­er in a group of Trump allies who met at the Willard hotel near the White House on Jan. 5 to dis­cuss their strat­e­gy for Jan. 6, was indict­ed last year by the Jus­tice Depart­ment for refus­ing to coop­er­ate with the House com­mit­tee, which is seek­ing more doc­u­ments and tes­ti­mo­ny about his con­ver­sa­tions with Trump.

    Trump’s final call with Pence is not list­ed in the call logs, even though mul­ti­ple peo­ple close to both men said that call occurred some­time in the late morn­ing before Trump head­ed to the “Save Amer­i­ca” ral­ly at the Ellipse.

    Dur­ing their con­ver­sa­tion, Pence told Trump, “When I go to the Capi­tol, I’ll do my job” and not block Biden’s cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, enrag­ing Trump, accord­ing to “Per­il.”

    Trump said, “Mike you can do this. I’m count­ing on you to do it. If you don’t do it, I picked the wrong man four years ago,” he added, accord­ing to the book. “You’re going to wimp out!”

    Pence lat­er released a let­ter say­ing he did not, as vice pres­i­dent, have “uni­lat­er­al author­i­ty to decide pres­i­den­tial con­tests,” and said he would “keep the oath” he made when he was sworn into office.

    The White House logs also show that Trump had con­ver­sa­tions on Jan. 6 with elec­tion lawyers and White House offi­cials, as well as out­side allies such as then-sen­a­tor David Per­due (R‑Ga.), con­ser­v­a­tive com­men­ta­tor William J. Ben­nett and Fox News host Sean Han­ni­ty.

    Han­ni­ty and Per­due did not respond to requests for com­ment. Ben­nett, in a brief inter­view on Tues­day, said he did not recall the con­ver­sa­tion.

    Accord­ing to the doc­u­ments, Trump spoke with oth­er con­fi­dants and polit­i­cal advis­ers that morn­ing ahead of the ral­ly. At 8:34 a.m., he spoke with Kurt Olsen, who was advis­ing Trump on legal chal­lenges to the elec­tion.

    Trump then placed calls to Sen. Mitch McConnell (Ky.), the Repub­li­can leader, and Sen. Josh Haw­ley (Mo.), accord­ing to the doc­u­ments. Haw­ley, a Trump ally, was the first sen­a­tor to declare he would object to the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, a deci­sion that sparked oth­er GOP sen­a­tors to say they too would object.

    A McConnell aide said Mon­day that McConnell declined Trump’s call on Jan. 6. Haw­ley told reporters Tues­day that he missed Trump’s call that day and that the two did not speak on Jan. 6.

    The records show that Trump had a 10-minute call start­ing at 9:24 a.m. with Rep. Jim Jor­dan, an Ohio Repub­li­can who worked close­ly with the Trump White House and was a key fig­ure in push­ing fel­low GOP law­mak­ers to object to the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of Biden’s elec­tion.

    Jor­dan has declined to coop­er­ate with the House com­mit­tee. The 10-minute call Trump had with Jor­dan was first report­ed by CNN.

    Giu­liani and Trump spoke on Jan. 6 at 9:41 a.m. for six min­utes, and at 8:39 p.m. for nine min­utes, accord­ing to the White House logs. Accord­ing to the doc­u­ments, Giu­liani called from dif­fer­ent phone num­bers.

    ...

    Trump senior advis­er Stephen Miller — who told Fox News in Decem­ber 2020 that an “alter­nate slate of elec­tors in the con­test­ed states is going to vote” — spoke with Trump for 26 min­utes on the morn­ing of Jan. 6, the records show. That call start­ed at 9:52 a.m. and end­ed at 10:18 a.m.

    ...

    At 11:17 a.m., the White House dai­ly diary states, “The Pres­i­dent talked on a phone call to an uniden­ti­fied per­son.” That vague call list­ing, with no notes on dura­tion, is the last offi­cial record of a phone con­ver­sa­tion that Trump had until the evening of Jan. 6.

    The records of Trump’s activ­i­ty through­out the day are very lim­it­ed. The dai­ly diary notes that he addressed sup­port­ers at a ral­ly at the Ellipse mid­day and returned to the south grounds of the White House at 1:19 p.m.

    “The Pres­i­dent met with his Valet,” the records note of Trump’s activ­i­ty at 1:21 p.m. on Jan. 6.

    Trump’s sup­port­ers breached the Capi­tol build­ing short­ly after 2 p.m.

    The next doc­u­ment­ed event in the president’s diary comes at 4:03 p.m., when “The Pres­i­dent went to the Rose Gar­den” to record, for four min­utes, a video mes­sage for the pro-Trump mob that had stormed the Capi­tol. The video, post­ed on Twit­ter at 4:17 p.m., begins with Trump false­ly claim­ing the 2020 elec­tion was stolen, then asks the riot­ers to “go home.” He added, “We love you. You’re very spe­cial.”

    “The Pres­i­dent returned to the Oval Office” at 4:07 p.m., the records state. The next list­ed action comes at 6:27 p.m.: “The Pres­i­dent went to the Sec­ond Floor Res­i­dence.”

    Accord­ing to the logs, Trump made his first phone call in more than sev­en hours at 6:54 p.m., when he instruct­ed the oper­a­tor to call aide Daniel Scav­i­no Jr.

    At 7:01 p.m., the records show, Trump spoke with Pat Cipol­lone, the White House coun­sel, for six min­utes, and lat­er spoke with press sec­re­tary Kayleigh McE­nany.

    At 9:23 p.m., Trump spoke with polit­i­cal advis­er Jason Miller for 18 min­utes. Miller has engaged with the com­mit­tee and sat for a depo­si­tion, parts of which were excerpt­ed in the committee’s fil­ing alleg­ing a crim­i­nal con­spir­a­cy was advanced by Trump and his allies.

    ...

    That night, Trump also spoke with lawyers sup­port­ing his elec­tion fight, such as for­mer North Car­oli­na Supreme Court chief jus­tice Mark Mar­tin and Cle­ta Mitchell, a vet­er­an con­ser­v­a­tive Wash­ing­ton attor­ney who worked close­ly with Trump on con­test­ing Biden’s vic­to­ry in Geor­gia, accord­ing to the records.

    His final list­ed call came at 11:23 p.m. and last­ed 18 min­utes. It was with John McEn­tee, then the direc­tor of pres­i­den­tial per­son­nel.

    Ear­li­er this year, the Supreme Court, in an unsigned order, reject­ed Trump’s request to block the release of some White House records, which have been stored by the Nation­al Archives, to the com­mit­tee. The Supreme Court’s order in Jan­u­ary includ­ed a dis­sent from Jus­tice Clarence Thomas.

    Last week, The Post and CBS News report­ed the com­mit­tee has obtained 29 text mes­sages from the post-elec­tion peri­od between Mead­ows and Vir­ginia “Gin­ni” Thomas, Clarence Thomas’s wife and a long­time con­ser­v­a­tive activist.

    The mes­sages, which do not direct­ly ref­er­ence Jus­tice Thomas or the Supreme Court, show how Gin­ni Thomas used her access to Trump’s inner cir­cle to pro­mote and seek to guide the president’s strat­e­gy to over­turn the elec­tion results — and how recep­tive and grate­ful Mead­ows said he was to receive her advice. Clarence Thomas and Gin­ni Thomas have not respond­ed to mul­ti­ple requests for com­ment. She has long main­tained that there is no con­flict of inter­est between her activism and her husband’s work.

    ———–

    “Jan. 6 White House logs giv­en to House show 7‑hour gap in Trump calls” by Bob Wood­ward and Robert Cos­ta; The Wash­ing­ton Post; 03/29/2022

    “The lack of an offi­cial White House nota­tion of any calls placed to or by Trump for 457 min­utes on Jan. 6, 2021 — from 11:17 a.m. to 6:54 p.m. — means the com­mit­tee has no record of his phone con­ver­sa­tions as his sup­port­ers descend­ed on the Capi­tol, bat­tled over­whelmed police and forcibly entered the build­ing, prompt­ing law­mak­ers and Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence to flee for safe­ty.”

    Who did Trump talk to and what were they talk­ing about dur­ing that sev­en hour gap in the White House call records? Those ques­tions are now at the heart of the inves­ti­ga­tion of what is increas­ing­ly look­ing like a crim­i­nal coverup. A coverup star­ing us all in the face in the form of White House call records with a sev­en hour gap dur­ing time the time that we know Don­ald Trump was mak­ing mul­ti­ple calls in his last-ditch effort to block the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of the vote. When Trump absurd­ly claims he has no idea what a burn­er phone even is and has nev­er heard of one before, that’s a clue:

    ...
    The 11 pages of records, which con­sist of the president’s offi­cial dai­ly diary and the White House switch­board call logs, were turned over by the Nation­al Archives ear­li­er this year to the House select com­mit­tee inves­ti­gat­ing the Jan. 6 attack.

    The records show that Trump was active on the phone for part of the day, doc­u­ment­ing con­ver­sa­tions that he had with at least eight peo­ple in the morn­ing and 11 peo­ple that evening. The sev­en-hour gap also stands in stark con­trast to the exten­sive pub­lic report­ing about phone con­ver­sa­tions he had with allies dur­ing the attack, such as a call Trump made to Sen. Mike Lee (R‑Utah) — seek­ing to talk to Sen. Tom­my Tuberville (R‑Ala.) — and a phone con­ver­sa­tion he had with House Minor­i­ty Leader Kevin McCarthy (R‑Calif.).

    The House pan­el is now inves­ti­gat­ing whether Trump com­mu­ni­cat­ed that day through back chan­nels, phones of aides or per­son­al dis­pos­able phones, known as “burn­er phones,” accord­ing to two peo­ple with knowl­edge of the probe, who, like oth­ers inter­viewed for this report, spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty to dis­cuss sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion. The com­mit­tee is also scru­ti­niz­ing whether it received the full logs from that day.

    One law­mak­er on the pan­el said the com­mit­tee is inves­ti­gat­ing a “pos­si­ble coverup” of the offi­cial White House record from that day. Anoth­er per­son close to the com­mit­tee said the large gap in the records is of “intense inter­est” to some law­mak­ers on the com­mit­tee, many of whom have reviewed copies of the doc­u­ments. Both spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty because they were not autho­rized to dis­cuss inter­nal com­mit­tee delib­er­a­tions.

    ...

    Trump was known for using dif­fer­ent phones when he was in the White House, accord­ing to peo­ple famil­iar with his activ­i­ties. Occa­sion­al­ly, when he made out­bound calls, the num­ber would show up as the White House switchboard’s num­ber, accord­ing to a for­mer Trump Cab­i­net offi­cial. Oth­er times, he would call from dif­fer­ent num­bers — or no num­ber would appear on the recipient’s phone, the offi­cial said.

    ...

    A Trump spokes­woman said that Trump had noth­ing to do with the records and had assumed any and all of his phone calls were record­ed and pre­served.

    In a state­ment Mon­day night, Trump said, “I have no idea what a burn­er phone is, to the best of my knowl­edge I have nev­er even heard the term.”

    One for­mer Trump White House offi­cial dis­put­ed that. In an inter­view Tues­day after­noon, for­mer nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er John Bolton said that he recalls Trump using the term “burn­er phones” in sev­er­al dis­cus­sions and that Trump was aware of its mean­ing. Bolton said he and Trump have spo­ken about how peo­ple have used burn­er phones to avoid hav­ing their calls scru­ti­nized.

    ...

    A fed­er­al judge said in a rul­ing Mon­day that Trump “more like­ly than not” com­mit­ted a fed­er­al crime in try­ing to obstruct the con­gres­sion­al count of elec­toral col­lege votes on Jan. 6. The rul­ing was regard­ing emails that con­ser­v­a­tive lawyer John East­man, a Trump ally, had resist­ed turn­ing over to the Jan. 6 com­mit­tee.

    ...

    In Jan­u­ary, The Post first report­ed that some of the Trump White House records turned over to the com­mit­tee were poten­tial­ly incom­plete, includ­ing records that had been ripped up and taped back togeth­er. The New York Times first report­ed in Feb­ru­ary on the committee’s dis­cov­ery of gaps in the White House phone logs from Jan. 6, but it did not spec­i­fy when or for how long on that day. CNN first report­ed that “sev­er­al hours” in Trump’s records pro­vid­ed to the com­mit­tee lacked any nota­tion of phone calls.
    ...

    But it’s not just the sev­en hour cap in the White House call records that’s so sus­pi­cious. It’s the fact that Trump’s last call to Mike Pence that morn­ing, when he report­ed­ly plead­ed with Pence to go along with the scheme to no avail, isn’t even list­ed on the records while the last call made before the start of that gap was at 11:17 am to an “uniden­ti­fied per­son”. So right around the time we know that Trump effec­tive­ly failed in his last ditch attempt to per­suade Mike Pence, there’s a call to an uniden­ti­fied per­son and then the start of the sev­en hour gap:

    ...
    Trump’s final call with Pence is not list­ed in the call logs, even though mul­ti­ple peo­ple close to both men said that call occurred some­time in the late morn­ing before Trump head­ed to the “Save Amer­i­ca” ral­ly at the Ellipse.

    Dur­ing their con­ver­sa­tion, Pence told Trump, “When I go to the Capi­tol, I’ll do my job” and not block Biden’s cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, enrag­ing Trump, accord­ing to “Per­il.”

    Trump said, “Mike you can do this. I’m count­ing on you to do it. If you don’t do it, I picked the wrong man four years ago,” he added, accord­ing to the book. “You’re going to wimp out!”

    ...

    At 11:17 a.m., the White House dai­ly diary states, “The Pres­i­dent talked on a phone call to an uniden­ti­fied per­son.” That vague call list­ing, with no notes on dura­tion, is the last offi­cial record of a phone con­ver­sa­tion that Trump had until the evening of Jan. 6.
    ...

    Who is this mys­tery per­son Trump called at 11:17am? We don’t know, but it would­n’t be sur­pris­ing if they were in pos­ses­sion of one of burn­er phones used in this oper­a­tion. And it’s hard to imag­ine that the White House would both­er not iden­ti­fy­ing Kylie or Amy Kre­mer, the two peo­ple known to be in pos­ses­sion of the three burn­er phones. But there was that mys­tery third per­son who got one of those phones. Did Trump call that mys­tery per­son right before the sev­en hour gap? If so, based on the cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence, we prob­a­bly should­n’t be sur­prised if it turns out this mys­tery per­son is an asso­ciate of Steve Ban­non:

    ...
    The records show that for­mer White House chief strate­gist Stephen K. Ban­non — who said on his Jan. 5 pod­cast that “all hell is going to break loose tomor­row” — spoke with Trump twice on Jan. 6. In a call that morn­ing, Ban­non urged Trump to con­tin­ue to pres­sure Pence to block con­gres­sion­al cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of Joe Biden’s vic­to­ry in the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, accord­ing to peo­ple famil­iar with the exchange.

    ...

    The doc­u­ments obtained by the com­mit­tee show Trump hav­ing sev­er­al pre­vi­ous­ly unre­port­ed exchanges on Jan. 6, includ­ing brief calls with Ban­non and per­son­al lawyer Rudy Giu­liani that morn­ing, before Trump had a final call with Pence, in which the vice pres­i­dent told him he was not going to block Con­gress from for­mal­iz­ing Biden’s vic­to­ry. The call to the vice pres­i­dent was part of Trump’s attempt to put into motion a plan, advo­cat­ed by Ban­non and out­lined in a memo writ­ten by con­ser­v­a­tive lawyer John East­man, that would enable Trump to hold on to the pres­i­den­cy, as first report­ed in the book “Per­il.”

    ...

    Bannon’s first Jan. 6 call with Trump last­ed for about one minute, accord­ing to the doc­u­ments. Dur­ing that con­ver­sa­tion, Ban­non asked Trump whether Pence was com­ing over for a break­fast meet­ing, accord­ing to two peo­ple famil­iar with the exchange. Ban­non hoped Trump could pres­sure the vice pres­i­dent over break­fast to agree to thwart the con­gres­sion­al cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of Biden’s vic­to­ry, the peo­ple said.

    But Trump told Ban­non that Pence was not sched­uled to come to the White House fol­low­ing a heat­ed meet­ing Trump and Pence had the pre­vi­ous evening, Jan. 5, in the Oval Office. Ban­non quick­ly pressed Trump that he need­ed to call Pence and tell him again to hold off on doing any­thing that would enable cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. Trump agreed, the peo­ple said.

    Accord­ing to the White House phone logs, Ban­non and Trump spoke again late on Jan. 6 in a call that began at 10:19 p.m. and end­ed at 10:26 p.m.
    ...

    Also note how the one mem­ber of the Supreme Court who dis­sent­ed in the rul­ing order­ing the han­dover of White House records to House inves­ti­ga­tors, Clarence Thomas, hap­pens to be the hus­band CNP-mem­ber Gin­ni Thomas. And as was recent­ly report­ed, Gin­ni was in reg­u­lar com­mu­ni­ca­tion with White House Chief of Staff Mark Mead­ows, implor­ing him to fol­low Sid­ney Pow­ell’s luna­cy and take steps like ‘releas­ing the Krak­en’. The CNP con­nec­tion just keeps pop­ping up in this sto­ry:

    ...
    Ear­li­er this year, the Supreme Court, in an unsigned order, reject­ed Trump’s request to block the release of some White House records, which have been stored by the Nation­al Archives, to the com­mit­tee. The Supreme Court’s order in Jan­u­ary includ­ed a dis­sent from Jus­tice Clarence Thomas.
    ...

    Final­ly, note the oth­er fig­ures with CNP ties Trump report­ed­ly spoke with that day, beyond CNP mem­ber Steve Ban­non. There was CNP-mem­ber Cle­ta Mitchell who was deeply involved in the var­i­ous legal chal­lenges employed in this effort. And then there’s But also con­ser­v­a­tive per­son­al­i­ty Bill Ben­nett. Some­one who alleged­ly attend­ed a 2020 CNP event accord­ing to Rush Lim­baugh. So why Ben­nett, of all peo­ple? Was it his deep ties to the US’s dom­i­nant theo­crat­ic pow­er net­work?

    ...
    The White House logs also show that Trump had con­ver­sa­tions on Jan. 6 with elec­tion lawyers and White House offi­cials, as well as out­side allies such as then-sen­a­tor David Per­due (R‑Ga.), con­ser­v­a­tive com­men­ta­tor William J. Ben­nett and Fox News host Sean Han­ni­ty.

    Han­ni­ty and Per­due did not respond to requests for com­ment. Ben­nett, in a brief inter­view on Tues­day, said he did not recall the con­ver­sa­tion.

    ...

    That night, Trump also spoke with lawyers sup­port­ing his elec­tion fight, such as for­mer North Car­oli­na Supreme Court chief jus­tice Mark Mar­tin and Cle­ta Mitchell, a vet­er­an con­ser­v­a­tive Wash­ing­ton attor­ney who worked close­ly with Trump on con­test­ing Biden’s vic­to­ry in Geor­gia, accord­ing to the records.
    ...

    And as we learned a few days after this report, the appar­ent coverup is even larg­er and more bla­tant the pre­vi­ous­ly rec­og­nized. Because it turns out that the White House diarist told inves­ti­ga­tors that they were “iced out” in the days lead­ing up to Jan 6. Accord­ing to one source, “So, start­ing the 5th, the diarist did­n’t receive the anno­tat­ed calls and notes. This was a dra­mat­ic depar­ture. That is all out of the ordi­nary.” The tim­ing it quite remark­able.

    It’s not know who ordered this dra­mat­ic depar­ture from the record-keep­ing rules, but what is per­haps even more remark­able is the fact that, while the destruc­tion of gov­ern­ment doc­u­ments is a crime, there does­n’t appear to be law against the pre­ven­tion of the cre­ation of those archives in the first place.

    But there’s anoth­er legal loop­hole at work here: the loop­hole where class made from the White House res­i­den­cy don’t need to be archived. And accord­ing to this report, Trump was indeed spend­ing more time ‘work­ing’ out of the White House res­i­den­cy dur­ing this peri­od. So at this point in the inves­ti­ga­tion, it’s not real­ly a ques­tion of whether or not there was a coverup. The coverup grows more bla­tant by the day. It’s a ques­tion of whether or not there will be any legal reper­cus­sions for this bla­tant coverup. A ques­tion that remains very open at this point:

    CNN

    Trump’s pres­i­den­tial diarist tells Jan. 6 com­mit­tee White House offi­cials pro­vid­ed less detail about his activ­i­ties days before riot

    By Zachary Cohen, Jamie Gan­gel, Ryan Nobles, Annie Gray­er and Paula Reid, CNN
    Updat­ed 8:56 AM ET, Sat April 2, 2022

    Wash­ing­ton (CNN)Just days before the US Capi­tol riot, White House offi­cials start­ed pro­vid­ing few­er details about then-Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s calls and vis­its, the per­son in charge of com­pil­ing those activ­i­ties for the offi­cial record told the House select com­mit­tee inves­ti­gat­ing Jan­u­ary 6, 2021, accord­ing to two sources with knowl­edge of the probe.

    The com­mit­tee inter­viewed Trump’s pres­i­den­tial diarist rough­ly two weeks ago. That inter­view has not been pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed, nor has the tes­ti­mo­ny describ­ing a notice­able drop-off in infor­ma­tion pro­vid­ed by Oval Office staff lead­ing up to Jan­u­ary 6.

    Oth­er wit­ness­es also have told the pan­el there was sig­nif­i­cant­ly less infor­ma­tion being shared with those involved in White House record-keep­ing dur­ing the same time peri­od, accord­ing to three sources famil­iar with the inves­ti­ga­tion.

    One source described how White House record-keep­ers appeared to be “iced out” in the days lead­ing up to Jan­u­ary 6.

    “The last day that nor­mal infor­ma­tion was sent was the 4th,” said anoth­er source famil­iar with the inves­ti­ga­tion. “So, start­ing the 5th, the diarist did­n’t receive the anno­tat­ed calls and notes. This was a dra­mat­ic depar­ture. That is all out of the ordi­nary.”

    The White House diarist nor­mal­ly receives many streams of infor­ma­tion, includ­ing the phone logs from the switch­board, the pres­i­den­t’s move­ments from the US Secret Ser­vice and, crit­i­cal­ly, the notes from Oval Office oper­a­tions, which detail calls, guests and activ­i­ties.

    But sources close to the pan­el’s inves­ti­ga­tion do not seem to know yet who, if any­one, direct­ed a change in record-keep­ing or what the moti­va­tion behind that change was, rais­ing ques­tions about whether the lack of infor­ma­tion was inten­tion­al or for staffing issues.

    “It’s tough to know what that change was. Was it inten­tion­al?” one source said. “You can only keep track of some­thing when you know what’s going on. When peo­ple don’t share things with you, whether that was inten­tion­al and who decid­ed that, I think it’s a lit­tle murky at this point.”

    ...

    These rev­e­la­tions come as the House select com­mit­tee is try­ing to under­stand what Trump was doing (and not doing) dur­ing a a sev­en-hour gap that exists in the White House call log and the pres­i­den­tial diary from Jan­u­ary 6, 2021. The recent­ly revealed switch­board call log and the pres­i­den­tial diary for the day con­tain no infor­ma­tion about the then-Pres­i­den­t’s actions dur­ing the riot, includ­ing phone calls that are known to have occurred and should have been doc­u­ment­ed in the diary.

    CNN pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed that a like­ly expla­na­tion for the gap in the phone log is that Trump used cell phones, direct land­lines or aides’ phones that bypassed the White House switch­board. An offi­cial review of the call logs found no miss­ing pages.

    While the select com­mit­tee does not have detailed notes about the com­ings and goings into the Oval Office on Jan­u­ary 6, they have received tes­ti­mo­ny that has helped fill in some of the gaps, accord­ing to a source famil­iar with the inves­ti­ga­tion. That includes calls Trump made and received, as well as who was with him in the pri­vate din­ing room off the Oval Office as he report­ed­ly watched the riot unfold on tele­vi­sion.

    The pres­i­den­tial diary that was gen­er­at­ed for Jan­u­ary 6 con­tains scant details. It lists infor­ma­tion from the switch­board call logs and Trump’s pub­lic sched­ule but lit­tle else besides a phone call the for­mer Pres­i­dent had with an “uniden­ti­fied indi­vid­ual” at 11:17 a.m. And there are no entries in the diary for rough­ly three hours, from 1:21 p.m. to 4:03 p.m.

    The Pres­i­den­tial Records Act out­lines that the office of the pres­i­den­cy has an oblig­a­tion to ade­quate­ly doc­u­ment activ­i­ties of the pres­i­dent. But there is lit­tle to no enforce­ment mech­a­nism to ensure the law is fol­lowed. While there are crim­i­nal con­se­quences for the destruc­tion of gov­ern­ment records, there are none that penal­ize the fail­ure to cre­ate them in the first place.

    No expla­na­tion has been giv­en so far as to why calls known to have been made in the hours Trump was in the Oval Office are not doc­u­ment­ed in the pres­i­den­tial diary. But around that time, a num­ber of fac­tors could have reduced the flow of infor­ma­tion into the offi­cial record.

    For one, sources told CNN that ear­ly Jan­u­ary was a chaot­ic time inside the White House and that Trump was spend­ing more time in the res­i­dence and con­duct­ing less offi­cial busi­ness.

    Accord­ing to one for­mer Trump offi­cial, “all sense of nor­mal order start­ed to break down” and around ear­ly Jan­u­ary, “the cracks were show­ing.” While some peo­ple had been look­ing to find oth­er jobs, oth­ers had been con­fused and it became “every man for him­self,” the for­mer offi­cial added.

    ...

    ————

    “Trump’s pres­i­den­tial diarist tells Jan. 6 com­mit­tee White House offi­cials pro­vid­ed less detail about his activ­i­ties days before riot” by Zachary Cohen, Jamie Gan­gel, Ryan Nobles, Annie Gray­er and Paula Reid; CNN; 04/02/2022

    ““The last day that nor­mal infor­ma­tion was sent was the 4th,” said anoth­er source famil­iar with the inves­ti­ga­tion. “So, start­ing the 5th, the diarist did­n’t receive the anno­tat­ed calls and notes. This was a dra­mat­ic depar­ture. That is all out of the ordi­nary.””

    Start­ing on Jan 5, the White House diarist sud­den­ly got “iced out” in what was described as a “dra­mat­ic depar­ture” from what had been the norm. Adding to the intrigue is the fact that no one seems to know who ordered this dra­mat­ic shift in the record-keep­ing pol­i­cy. But per­haps the most absurd part of this sto­ry is that, while the destruc­tion of gov­ern­ment doc­u­ments is a crime, it’s appar­ent­ly not a crime to pre­vent the cre­ation of those doc­u­ments in the first place. So at least that aspect of this coverup might be entire­ly legal:

    ...
    But sources close to the pan­el’s inves­ti­ga­tion do not seem to know yet who, if any­one, direct­ed a change in record-keep­ing or what the moti­va­tion behind that change was, rais­ing ques­tions about whether the lack of infor­ma­tion was inten­tion­al or for staffing issues.

    “It’s tough to know what that change was. Was it inten­tion­al?” one source said. “You can only keep track of some­thing when you know what’s going on. When peo­ple don’t share things with you, whether that was inten­tion­al and who decid­ed that, I think it’s a lit­tle murky at this point.”

    ...

    The pres­i­den­tial diary that was gen­er­at­ed for Jan­u­ary 6 con­tains scant details. It lists infor­ma­tion from the switch­board call logs and Trump’s pub­lic sched­ule but lit­tle else besides a phone call the for­mer Pres­i­dent had with an “uniden­ti­fied indi­vid­ual” at 11:17 a.m. And there are no entries in the diary for rough­ly three hours, from 1:21 p.m. to 4:03 p.m.

    The Pres­i­den­tial Records Act out­lines that the office of the pres­i­den­cy has an oblig­a­tion to ade­quate­ly doc­u­ment activ­i­ties of the pres­i­dent. But there is lit­tle to no enforce­ment mech­a­nism to ensure the law is fol­lowed. While there are crim­i­nal con­se­quences for the destruc­tion of gov­ern­ment records, there are none that penal­ize the fail­ure to cre­ate them in the first place.
    ...

    And relat­ing back to the archive rules that only require calls from the West Wing to get archives, but not calls from the White House res­i­den­cy, note how we are told that Trump was spend­ing more time in the res­i­den­cy dur­ing this peri­od, con­duct­ing ‘less offi­cial busi­ness’:

    ...
    No expla­na­tion has been giv­en so far as to why calls known to have been made in the hours Trump was in the Oval Office are not doc­u­ment­ed in the pres­i­den­tial diary. But around that time, a num­ber of fac­tors could have reduced the flow of infor­ma­tion into the offi­cial record.

    For one, sources told CNN that ear­ly Jan­u­ary was a chaot­ic time inside the White House and that Trump was spend­ing more time in the res­i­dence and con­duct­ing less offi­cial busi­ness.
    ...

    “Less offi­cial busi­ness” is one way to describe plot­ting a coup. How many calls did Trump make to fel­low plot­ters in ear­ly Jan­u­ary? We’ll pre­sum­ably nev­er know since it was­n’t archived. And it’s that mys­tery of how many un-archived calls did Trump make from the White House res­i­den­cy that makes all the oth­er ques­tions swirling around the sev­en hour call gap and use of burn­er phones all the more intrigu­ing. Because if Trump had a read­i­ly avail­able option for mak­ing off-the-record calls by just mak­ing them out of the White House res­i­den­cy and he still had to engage in the kind of bla­tant coverup that pro­duced a sev­en hour call gap and an “iced out” White House diarist, that sug­gests Trump was mak­ing A LOT of incrim­i­nat­ing phone calls from all sorts of dif­fer­ent phones dur­ing this peri­od. Which of course he was doing. This is Don­ald Trump we’re talk­ing about. The real ques­tion is who was he talk­ing to in these incrim­i­nat­ing phone calls and what incrim­i­nat­ing details were they dis­cussing. There’s also the grow­ing ques­tion of how many of these fel­low plot­ters are mem­bers or affil­i­ates of the CNP. Although at this point it’s real­ly more of a ques­tion of how many of these fel­low plot­ters aren’t part of that theo­crat­ic pow­er net­work.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 3, 2022, 8:52 pm
  15. That’s cute: Ali Alexan­der is doing a “I’m total­ly coop­er­a­tive (and also total­ly inno­cent)!” song and dance with the press fol­low­ing reports that he was just sub­poe­naed by a grand jury in rela­tion to the con­gres­sion­al inves­ti­ga­tion into the Jan­u­ary 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion. He’s let­ting reporters know that he’s ful­ly coop­er­at­ing with inves­ti­ga­tors but does­n’t actu­al­ly know about any wrong­do­ing. Lol.

    First, recall how Alexan­der — a some­what sur­pris­ing mem­ber of the CNP giv­en his back­ground as a far right inter­net troll — is so close to Roger Stone that his actions in rela­tion to Jan 6 led to spec­u­la­tion that the insur­rec­tion was a Roger Stone pro­duc­tion. Don’t for­get that, beyond Stone’s lead role in the 2000 “Brooks Broth­ers Riot”, the whole “Stop the Steal” slo­gan was in fact orig­i­nal­ly a Roger Stone cre­ation to help Trump win the 2016 GOP pri­ma­ry. The CNP isn’t exclu­sive to allow pro­fes­sion­al dirty-trick­sters into their ranks.

    Also recall how Alexan­der was work­ing close­ly with Alex Jones in a joint “Stop the Steal” effort. And as we’ve seen, Alex Jones was pub­licly claim­ing in the days fol­low­ing the insur­rec­tion that he and Alexan­der has some sort of arrange­ment with the White House involv­ing Jones and Alexan­der lead­ing a march to the sec­ond ral­ly at the Capi­tol “We had a legit­i­mate deal with the White House,” Jones said in an InfoWars show. “‘Hey Jones and Ali,’ lit­er­al­ly, they let us out ear­ly, we were sup­posed to lead a peace­ful deal.”

    Jones went on to dou­ble down on the claim that Trump gave him the impres­sion that Trump him­self was going to join the sec­ond ‘wild’ ral­ly Alexan­der was orga­nized planned for Jan­u­ary 6. A claim that Trump him­self appeared to recent­ly val­i­date with his recent state­ments about how he real­ly did want to join the march to the Capi­tol but the Secret Ser­vice pre­vent­ed him. Yes, the sto­ries being ped­dled by Jones and Trump are con­cur­ring with each oth­er. And not con­cur­ring in a way that absolves any of them of any guilt. Quite the oppo­site. Instead, the sto­ry that’s been emerg­ing over the months, on report at a time, is the sto­ry of a sec­ond “Stop the Steal” ral­ly that was planned to get extra “wild”. Wild in more or less the exact man­ner that the insur­rec­tion played out.

    Anoth­er aspect to Ali Alexan­der’s involve­ment in Jan 6 that remains an open ques­tion is the extent of his coor­di­nat­ing with mili­tia groups like the Oath Keep­ers or the Proud Boys. Open ques­tions that include unre­solved ques­tions about the “Quick Reac­tion Force” (QRF) the Oath Keep­ers had set up to deliv­ery heavy weapons to the insur­rec­tion­ists if the call was made. As we saw, one of the most incrim­i­nat­ing details in the entire affair is the fact that the group of Oath Keep­ers who noto­ri­ous­ly breached the Capi­tol in a “stack” for­ma­tion were led by Jes­si­ca Watkins, the same fig­ure who was report­ed­ly pro­vid­ing VIP pro­tec­tion ser­vices for Roger Stone back­stage at the “Stop the Steal” ral­ly at the Ellipse on Jan 6. Watkins claimed she was coor­di­nat­ing her VIP pro­tec­tion ser­vices with the Secret Ser­vice. Inter­est­ing­ly, one of the Oath Keep­ers who was act­ing as Roger Stone’s body guard that day, Joshua James, is now a coop­er­at­ing wit­ness. As we’re going to see, Alexan­der now asserts that “Any mili­tia work­ing secu­ri­ty at the Ellipse belonged to “Women for Amer­i­ca First,” not us,””. The mutu­al fin­ger-point­ing is in full effect.

    That attempt to lay the blame for any mili­tia coor­di­nat­ing at the feet of “Women for Amer­i­ca First” — led by CNP mem­ber Amy Kre­mer and her daugh­ter Kylie — is also a reminder of the report­ed ten­sions between the ral­ly plans at the Ellipse, which the Trump White House was offi­cial­ly coor­di­nat­ing with, and the sec­ond ral­ly planned at the Capi­tol by Alexan­der and Jones that was ulti­mate­ly eclipsed by the insur­rec­tion. As we saw, these were far from inde­pen­dent­ly-orga­nized affairs. Car­o­line Wren — the for­mer deputy to Don Jr.‘s girl­friend Kim­ber­ly Guil­foyle — had been rais­ing mon­ey for the ral­ly specif­i­cal­ly from Pub­lix heiress Julie Jenk­ins Fan­cel­li. Fancelli’s financ­ing was report­ed­ly facil­i­tat­ing by Alex Jones. And in the week lead­ing up to the ral­ly, there were a num­ber of changes in the plans. Changes pushed by Wren. We lat­er learned Wren and Guil­foyle unsuc­cess­ful­ly pushed for last minute changes to the sched­ule of speak­ers at the Ellipse ral­ly in order to get fig­ures like Roger Stone, Alex Jones and Ali Alexan­der added to the speak­ers list. When Jones and Alexan­der left the ral­ly ear­ly (to begin the march to the “Wild Protest”), it was Wren who escort­ed them away as they pre­pared to lead the march on the Capi­tol.

    Those ques­tions of the degree of secret coor­di­na­tion between the ‘offi­cial’ Stop the Steal ral­ly at the Ellipse being coor­di­nat­ed by the Kre­mers and the ‘wild’ ral­ly planned after­wards by Alexan­der and Jones have been fur­ther height­ened by all the emerg­ing ques­tions about secret meet­ings at the White House and the Kre­mers’ use of three known ‘burn­er’ phones, with two phones going to Amy and Kylie and one of the three hav­ing been giv­en to a still unknown per­son.

    But there’s anoth­er major angle to the sto­ry of the Ali Alexander/Alex Jones schemes: the net­work­ing Alexan­der was doing with a group of far right mem­bers of con­gress — Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene, Paul Gosar, Lau­ren Boe­bert, Mo Brooks, Madi­son Cawthorn, Andy Big­gs, and Louie Gohmert — who were alleged­ly ped­dling blan­ket par­don offers on behalf of the White House.

    That’s all part of the con­text of the pre­pos­ter­ous sto­ry­line being fed to the press by Alexan­der regard­ing the grand jury sub­poe­na. a sto­ry­line about how he’s going to ful­ly coop­er­ate and tell inves­ti­ga­tors every­thing he knows. Which is noth­ing:

    Politi­co

    ‘Stop the Steal’ orga­niz­er says he received a grand jury sub­poe­na for Jan. 6 probe

    Ali Alexan­der has pre­vi­ous­ly tes­ti­fied to the Jan. 6 select com­mit­tee.

    By Kyle Cheney
    04/08/2022 09:15 PM EDT

    Ali Alexan­der, the founder of the Stop the Steal orga­ni­za­tion that helped pro­mote Don­ald Trump’s false claims of elec­tion fraud, said Fri­day he received a grand jury sub­poe­na from the Jus­tice Depart­ment and intends to coop­er­ate with the inves­ti­ga­tion.

    In a lengthy state­ment, Alexan­der denied any wrong­do­ing and said he is not a tar­get of the inves­ti­ga­tion, which he said was more clear­ly aimed at orga­niz­ers of a Jan. 6 ral­ly near the White House. That event was run by “Women for Amer­i­ca First.”

    Alexander’s con­fir­ma­tion of a grand jury sub­poe­na is the first pub­lic acknowl­edg­ment that the Jus­tice Department’s probe of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capi­tol has expand­ed to include orga­niz­ers of the events that pre­ced­ed the attack, includ­ing some fig­ures adja­cent to Trump him­self. The issuance of a grand jury sub­poe­na sug­gests pros­e­cu­tors believe crimes may have been com­mit­ted in con­nec­tion with those events.

    Alexan­der has pre­vi­ous­ly tes­ti­fied to the Jan. 6 select com­mit­tee, where he talked about his con­tacts with Repub­li­can mem­bers of Con­gress. His coop­er­a­tion with the Jus­tice Depart­ment was first report­ed by the New York Times.

    Alexan­der said in a since-delet­ed video that he worked with GOP Reps. Paul Gosar, Andy Big­gs and Mo Brooks to attempt to use Con­gress’ Jan. 6 ses­sion cer­ti­fy­ing Joe Biden’s vic­to­ry as a chance to pres­sure law­mak­ers to over­turn the elec­toral results.

    “We four schemed up to put max­i­mum pres­sure on Con­gress while they were vot­ing,” Alexan­der said in the video.

    Big­gs and Brooks have denied any sub­stan­tive rela­tion­ship with Alexan­der. Gosar has declined to address their con­tacts.

    Alexan­der is also fight­ing in court to block a sub­poe­na from the select com­mit­tee for his phone records.

    In his law­suit to block the sub­poe­na, Alexan­der revealed he had con­tact on the morn­ing of Jan. 6 with Kim­ber­ly Guil­foyle, the fiancée of Don­ald Trump Jr. who played a role in secur­ing financ­ing for the ellipse ral­ly.

    ...

    In his state­ment, Alexan­der sought to sep­a­rate him­self from the sub­stance of the inves­ti­ga­tion, say­ing he did not coor­di­nate with the Proud Boys and sug­gest­ing his con­tact with the Oath Keep­ers was lim­it­ed to accept­ing an offer for them to act as ush­ers at an event that nev­er took place: his own per­mit­ted event near the Capi­tol, which didn’t occur because of the mob attack on the Capi­tol. The Oath Keep­ers are the sub­ject of con­spir­a­cy charges for their roles in breach­ing the Capi­tol that day.

    “I did not finance the Ellipse equip­ment. I did not ever talk with the White House about secu­ri­ty groups. Any mili­tia work­ing secu­ri­ty at the Ellipse belonged to “Women for Amer­i­ca First,” not us,” Alexan­der said. “I did not coor­di­nate any move­ments with the Proud Boys or even see them that day. I did take Oath Keep­ers offer to act as ush­ers for the Area 8 event but all of that was lost in the chaos. I wasn’t in com­mu­ni­ca­tion with any of the afore­men­tioned groups while I was near the Capi­tol work­ing to get peo­ple away from the build­ing. Last­ly, I’m not will­ing to pre­sume anyone’s guilt.”

    “I did noth­ing wrong and I am not in pos­ses­sion of evi­dence that any­one else had plans to com­mit unlaw­ful acts,” Alexan­der said. “I denounce any­one who planned to sub­vert my per­mit­ted event and the oth­er per­mit­ted events of that day on Capi­tol grounds to stage any coun­ter­pro­duc­tive activ­i­ties.”

    Despite his dis­avow­al of oth­er extrem­ist groups that par­tic­i­pat­ed in the Jan. 6 attack, CNN pre­vi­ous­ly unearthed video of Alexan­der say­ing he intend­ed to reach out to the Proud Boys and Oath Keep­ers about doing secu­ri­ty for his event.

    ————

    “ ‘Stop the Steal’ orga­niz­er says he received a grand jury sub­poe­na for Jan. 6 probe” by Kyle Cheney; Politi­co; 04/08/2022

    “Alexander’s con­fir­ma­tion of a grand jury sub­poe­na is the first pub­lic acknowl­edg­ment that the Jus­tice Department’s probe of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capi­tol has expand­ed to include orga­niz­ers of the events that pre­ced­ed the attack, includ­ing some fig­ures adja­cent to Trump him­self. The issuance of a grand jury sub­poe­na sug­gests pros­e­cu­tors believe crimes may have been com­mit­ted in con­nec­tion with those events.

    Were any crimes com­mit­ted by Ali Alexan­der and the fig­ures he was coor­di­nat­ing with in orga­niz­ing his “Stop the Steal” ral­lies dur­ing the build up to the Jan­u­ary 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion? If any crimes were com­mit­ted, the cer­tain­ly weren’t com­mit­ted by Alexan­der, who had hard­ly any­thing at all to do with the events of Jan­u­ary 6. His “Stop the Steal” ral­ly sched­uled out­side the Capi­tol nev­er even hap­pened, after all. The insur­rec­tion effec­tive­ly can­celled it. So any use­ful infor­ma­tion Alexan­der might pro­vide inves­ti­ga­tors is real­ly just going to be about what the oth­er groups may have been involved with, like “Women for Amer­i­ca First”. At least that’s the nar­ra­tive Alexan­der is now push­ing fol­low­ing the reports of his grand jury sub­poe­na. He was just an inno­cent bystander. An inno­cent bystander who does­n’t actu­al­ly have any real evi­dence of crim­i­nal wrong­do­ing to pro­vide to inves­ti­ga­tors any­way:

    ...
    In a lengthy state­ment, Alexan­der denied any wrong­do­ing and said he is not a tar­get of the inves­ti­ga­tion, which he said was more clear­ly aimed at orga­niz­ers of a Jan. 6 ral­ly near the White House. That event was run by “Women for Amer­i­ca First.”

    ...

    Alexan­der said in a since-delet­ed video that he worked with GOP Reps. Paul Gosar, Andy Big­gs and Mo Brooks to attempt to use Con­gress’ Jan. 6 ses­sion cer­ti­fy­ing Joe Biden’s vic­to­ry as a chance to pres­sure law­mak­ers to over­turn the elec­toral results.

    “We four schemed up to put max­i­mum pres­sure on Con­gress while they were vot­ing,” Alexan­der said in the video.

    Big­gs and Brooks have denied any sub­stan­tive rela­tion­ship with Alexan­der. Gosar has declined to address their con­tacts.

    ...

    “I did noth­ing wrong and I am not in pos­ses­sion of evi­dence that any­one else had plans to com­mit unlaw­ful acts,” Alexan­der said. “I denounce any­one who planned to sub­vert my per­mit­ted event and the oth­er per­mit­ted events of that day on Capi­tol grounds to stage any coun­ter­pro­duc­tive activ­i­ties.”

    Despite his dis­avow­al of oth­er extrem­ist groups that par­tic­i­pat­ed in the Jan. 6 attack, CNN pre­vi­ous­ly unearthed video of Alexan­der say­ing he intend­ed to reach out to the Proud Boys and Oath Keep­ers about doing secu­ri­ty for his event.
    ...

    Alexan­der is not only inno­cent but obliv­i­ous of any wrong­do­ing that may have hap­pened. It’s quite a con­ve­nient nar­ra­tive. A nar­ra­tive that does­n’t explain why Alexan­der is simul­ta­ne­ous fight­ing to block the release of his phone records. Phone records that include phone calls on the morn­ing of Jan­u­ary 6 to Don Jr.‘s fiance Kim­ber­ly Guil­foyle. Don’t for­get that Guil­foyle and her for­mer deputy Car­o­line Wren unsuc­cess­ful­ly pushed for last minute changes to the sched­ule of speak­ers at the Ellipse ral­ly in order to get fig­ures like Roger Stone, Alex Jones and Ali Alexan­der added to the speak­ers list. When Jones and Alexan­der left the ral­ly ear­ly (to begin the march to the “Wild Protest”), it was Wren who escort­ed them away as they pre­pared to lead the march on the Capi­tol. And that’s what Alexan­der revealed in his law­suit to keep those records sealed. You whave to won­der about the phone records he did­n’t dis­close in that law­suit. We also have to won­der how many of those phone records include calls to the mili­tia groups that Alexan­der is now say­ing were the sole respon­si­bil­i­ty of the Kre­mers’ oper­a­tion:

    ...
    Alexan­der is also fight­ing in court to block a sub­poe­na from the select com­mit­tee for his phone records.

    In his law­suit to block the sub­poe­na, Alexan­der revealed he had con­tact on the morn­ing of Jan. 6 with Kim­ber­ly Guil­foyle, the fiancée of Don­ald Trump Jr. who played a role in secur­ing financ­ing for the ellipse ral­ly.

    ...

    In his state­ment, Alexan­der sought to sep­a­rate him­self from the sub­stance of the inves­ti­ga­tion, say­ing he did not coor­di­nate with the Proud Boys and sug­gest­ing his con­tact with the Oath Keep­ers was lim­it­ed to accept­ing an offer for them to act as ush­ers at an event that nev­er took place: his own per­mit­ted event near the Capi­tol, which didn’t occur because of the mob attack on the Capi­tol. The Oath Keep­ers are the sub­ject of con­spir­a­cy charges for their roles in breach­ing the Capi­tol that day.

    “I did not finance the Ellipse equip­ment. I did not ever talk with the White House about secu­ri­ty groups. Any mili­tia work­ing secu­ri­ty at the Ellipse belonged to “Women for Amer­i­ca First,” not us,” Alexan­der said. “I did not coor­di­nate any move­ments with the Proud Boys or even see them that day. I did take Oath Keep­ers offer to act as ush­ers for the Area 8 event but all of that was lost in the chaos. I wasn’t in com­mu­ni­ca­tion with any of the afore­men­tioned groups while I was near the Capi­tol work­ing to get peo­ple away from the build­ing. Last­ly, I’m not will­ing to pre­sume anyone’s guilt.”
    ...

    But per­haps the biggest fact relat­ed to this inves­ti­ga­tion that makes Alexan­der’s denials so laugh­able is the fact that Alexan­der was open­ly denounce Con­gress­man Mo Brooks for his trai­tor­ous actions just two weeks ago fol­low­ing reports that Don­ald Trump was with­draw­ing his endorse­ment of Brooks after Brooks voiced skep­ti­cism about a stolen 2020 elec­tion. As the fol­low­ing piece describes, Alexan­der seemed almost glee­ful in now being able to dish on Brooks for be a real trai­tor to the “Elec­tion Integri­ty” cause. It was­n’t exact­ly the kind of talk you would expect from some­one who knows appar­ent­ly noth­ing about any plans to over­turn the elec­tion:

    Salon

    MAGA purge: Jan. 6 orga­niz­er labels for­mer ally Rep. Mo Brooks as “LOSER” and “piece of crap”

    Ali Alexan­der, sup­posed “Stop the Steal” founder, mocks “de-endorsed” con­gress­man as trai­tor to Trump’s Big Lie

    By Kathryn Joyce
    Pub­lished March 25, 2022 6:00AM (EDT)

    On Wednes­day, short­ly after news broke that Don­ald Trump had rescind­ed his endorse­ment of Alaba­ma Rep. Mo Brooks, a right-wing Repub­li­can cur­rent­ly run­ning for Sen­ate, one of Brooks’ for­mer allies denounced him force­ful­ly across right-wing social media. In what amount­ed to a MAGA excom­mu­ni­ca­tion, Ali Alexan­der, the self-pro­claimed founder of the 2020 “Stop the Steal” move­ment and a key plan­ner of the Jan. 6, 2021, protests, cel­e­brat­ed the “de-endorse­ment” on mul­ti­ple con­ser­v­a­tive social media sites, writ­ing on Telegram, “MO BROOKS is a LOSER.”

    “I haven’t told the sto­ry to any­one except the Pres­i­den­t’s team and my lawyers or how Mo Brooks and HIS STAFF betrayed our elec­tion integri­ty move­ment before he did so pub­licly,” Alexan­der con­tin­ued. “With Pres­i­dent Trump with­draw­ing his endorse­ment, I can final­ly be pub­lic about what a piece of crap Mo actu­al­ly is. He’s no longer on the team. And his staff is worse and smells worse. I hope they did­n’t lie under oath to the J6 Com­mit­tee like they lied to Mo in pri­vate. Stay tuned!”

    In anoth­er mes­sage on the site, Alexan­der wrote, “This is what Mo does­n’t get... the vot­ers already left him. And keep leav­ing him. Trump is fol­low­ing what many of us in pri­vate and pub­lic have said. Mo Brooks has the dumb­est staff on the hill and every­one knows it.”

    On the com­pet­ing right-wing social media site Gab, Alexan­der con­tin­ued, writ­ing, “I’m proud to announce that @realdonaldtrump has WITHDRAWN his endorse­ment of Mo Brooks. I can now go on the record about him and his office and their attempts to BETRAY the Elec­tion Integri­ty move­ment.”

    Alexan­der weighed in on Get­tr as well, direct­ing a mes­sage at Brooks: “Change your pro­file, @MoBrooks” (refer­ring to Brooks’ pro­file ban­ner tout­ing Trump’s endorse­ment). “You betrayed our Elec­tion Integri­ty move­ment. We’re done here. You’ve been reject­ed by #StopTheSteal and now Trump. Tell your staff to nev­er come for me again.”

    Brooks cer­tain­ly isn’t the first Repub­li­can to be cast out of Trump World as an apos­tate. But this rep­re­sents a strik­ing depar­ture from the way Alexan­der used to talk about Brooks.

    At the Dec. 12, 2020, “Jeri­cho March,” a pro-Trump reli­gious ral­ly to protest the elec­tion results, Alexan­der appeared on stage to tell the crowd about Stop the Steal and to urge them to return to the cap­i­tal in Jan­u­ary to “occu­py D.C. full of patri­ots.” (Alexan­der, who was then in the process of con­vert­ing to a right-wing ver­sion of Catholi­cism, promised the audi­ence that they had “God’s favor,” and ral­lied them to fight “for God and coun­try!”)

    At that event, Alexan­der praised Mo Brooks specif­i­cal­ly as the first Repub­li­can mem­ber of Con­gress to vow he would object to the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of elec­toral votes on Jan. 6. “Thank God for Con­gress­man Mo Brooks,” Alexan­der said. “He’s said he’ll object to the House cer­ti­fi­ca­tion on Jan. 6. We need some of his col­leagues to join him. We expect them to join him — or we will throw them out of office.”

    He con­tin­ued, “I want to tell the Repub­li­can Par­ty that if one of these sen­a­tors does­n’t join Mo Brooks, we will burn the Repub­li­can Par­ty down. We will make some­thing new.”

    In a now-delet­ed Periscope video post­ed in Decem­ber 2020, Alexan­der also claimed that Brooks was one of three mem­bers of Con­gress — along with Reps. Paul Gosar and Andy Big­gs, both of Ari­zona — who had helped plan the activ­i­ties of Jan. 6. In the noto­ri­ous video, Alexan­der said, “We four schemed up putting max­i­mum pres­sure on Con­gress while they were vot­ing” in order to “change the hearts and minds of Repub­li­cans who were in that body, hear­ing our loud roar from out­side.”

    ...

    At the pro-Trump ral­ly on the morn­ing of Jan. 6, Brooks deliv­ered a vit­ri­olic call to action, telling the crowd on the Wash­ing­ton Ellipse, “Today is the day Amer­i­can patri­ots start tak­ing down names and kick­ing ass.”

    As a Feb­ru­ary 2022 report not­ed, Brooks’ speech that day also delved into Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist rhetoric. “Today, Repub­li­can sen­a­tors and con­gress­men will either vote to turn Amer­i­ca into a god­less, amoral, dic­ta­to­r­i­al, oppressed, and social­ist nation on the decline,” he said, “or they will join us, and they will fight and vote against vot­er fraud and elec­tion theft and vote for keep­ing Amer­i­ca great.”

    Brooks lat­er protest­ed that he was only try­ing to rouse the audi­ence to keep track of Repub­li­cans who failed to sup­port Trump’s efforts to over­turn the elec­tion, and had no inten­tion of pro­mot­ing lit­er­al “ass-kick­ing.” But that claim seemed dubi­ous in light of Brooks’ lat­er state­ment that he had worn body armor on Jan. 6, after receiv­ing warn­ings about poten­tial vio­lence.

    Last Decem­ber, after fac­ing sub­poe­nas from the House Select Com­mit­tee inves­ti­gat­ing the Jan. 6 attack on the Capi­tol, Alexan­der hand­ed over some 1,500 text mes­sages and oth­er com­mu­ni­ca­tions with Repub­li­can mem­bers of Con­gress and Trump White House aides. Among them were com­mu­ni­ca­tions with Gosar and Brooks.

    In response, a spokesper­son for Brooks released a state­ment claim­ing that Brooks’ inter­ac­tion with Alexan­der had been lim­it­ed to receiv­ing one text from the Stop the Steal orga­niz­er in Decem­ber 2020. The state­ment read, “The insin­u­a­tion that this sin­gle text to Con­gress­man Brooks from an unknown num­ber by some­one claim­ing to be ‘Ali Alexan­der’ some­how sug­gests Con­gress­man Brooks in any way helped plan the Capi­tol attack is absurd, out­ra­geous and defam­a­to­ry.”

    But accord­ing to a fil­ing from Alexan­der’s legal rep­re­sen­ta­tives, Alexan­der told the Jan. 6 com­mit­tee that he’d had phone con­ver­sa­tions with Brooks’ staff. An Octo­ber sto­ry in Rolling Stone fur­ther report­ed that two unnamed sources involved in plan­ning Jan. 6 claimed that they’d had “dozens” of con­ver­sa­tions with the offices of six mem­bers of Con­gress, includ­ing Brooks.

    At that time, Brooks told Alaba­ma jour­nal­ists that while he had­n’t helped plan the Jan. 6 ral­ly, if his staff had, “Quite frankly, I’d be proud of them.”

    Despite Brooks’ stal­wart sup­port of Trump, his poor show­ing in polls — and the sub­se­quent impli­ca­tion that Trump’s endorse­ments are los­ing their poten­cy, even in a deep red South­ern state — seem­ing­ly led the ex-pres­i­dent to announce on Wednes­day that he was with­draw­ing his endorse­ment. Trump accused Brooks of going “woke” by fail­ing to cam­paign on Trump’s stolen elec­tion nar­ra­tive.

    In response, Brooks made the star­tling but entire­ly plau­si­ble claim that Trump had repeat­ed­ly asked him to “rescind the 2020 elec­tion, imme­di­ate­ly remove Joe Biden from the White House, imme­di­ate­ly put Pres­i­dent Trump back in the White House, and hold a new spe­cial elec­tion for the pres­i­den­cy.” Brooks said he’d told Trump that Jan. 6, 2021, had rep­re­sent­ed the final chance to con­test the elec­tion, and that “nei­ther the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion nor the U.S. Code per­mit what Pres­i­dent Trump asks.”

    ———–

    “MAGA purge: Jan. 6 orga­niz­er labels for­mer ally Rep. Mo Brooks as “LOSER” and “piece of crap”” by Kathryn Joyce; Salon; 03/25/2022

    “On the com­pet­ing right-wing social media site Gab, Alexan­der con­tin­ued, writ­ing, “I’m proud to announce that @realdonaldtrump has WITHDRAWN his endorse­ment of Mo Brooks. I can now go on the record about him and his office and their attempts to BETRAY the Elec­tion Integri­ty move­ment.”

    Oh the bre­tray­al. The betray­al of the Elec­tion Integri­ty move­ment that Mo Brooks appar­ent­ly com­mit­ted when he expressed doubts about the stolen elec­tion. Ali Alexan­der sure did­n’t sound like some­one who know noth­ing about the efforts to over­turn the elec­tion when he was trash­ing Brooks.

    And note Brook­s’s response to Trump’s endorse­ment with­draw­al: he’s now claim­ing that Trump had repeat­ed­ly asked him to “rescind the 2020 elec­tion, imme­di­ate­ly remove Joe Biden from the White House, imme­di­ate­ly put Pres­i­dent Trump back in the White House, and hold a new spe­cial elec­tion for the pres­i­den­cy.” Is this true? Well, don’t for­get that Brooks was just one of a group of far right House GOP­ers who was part of this effort...and work­ing close­ly with Alexan­der the whole time. It will be inter­est­ing to see if any of those oth­er GOP­ers end up earn­ing Alexan­der’s scorn by reveal­ing more tid­bits like this:

    ...
    Despite Brooks’ stal­wart sup­port of Trump, his poor show­ing in polls — and the sub­se­quent impli­ca­tion that Trump’s endorse­ments are los­ing their poten­cy, even in a deep red South­ern state — seem­ing­ly led the ex-pres­i­dent to announce on Wednes­day that he was with­draw­ing his endorse­ment. Trump accused Brooks of going “woke” by fail­ing to cam­paign on Trump’s stolen elec­tion nar­ra­tive.

    In response, Brooks made the star­tling but entire­ly plau­si­ble claim that Trump had repeat­ed­ly asked him to “rescind the 2020 elec­tion, imme­di­ate­ly remove Joe Biden from the White House, imme­di­ate­ly put Pres­i­dent Trump back in the White House, and hold a new spe­cial elec­tion for the pres­i­den­cy.” Brooks said he’d told Trump that Jan. 6, 2021, had rep­re­sent­ed the final chance to con­test the elec­tion, and that “nei­ther the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion nor the U.S. Code per­mit what Pres­i­dent Trump asks.”
    ...

    And note how Brooks has already denied have any sub­stan­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Alexan­der, only to have it revealed that Alexan­der appar­ent­ly talked with this group of GOP­ers “dozens” of times about their plans. It’s pre­sum­ably part of the rea­son Alexan­der is so pissed about Brooks get­ting chat­ty about what hap­pened. Brooks knows what Alexan­der was up to because they were part­ners in crime:

    ...
    In a now-delet­ed Periscope video post­ed in Decem­ber 2020, Alexan­der also claimed that Brooks was one of three mem­bers of Con­gress — along with Reps. Paul Gosar and Andy Big­gs, both of Ari­zona — who had helped plan the activ­i­ties of Jan. 6. In the noto­ri­ous video, Alexan­der said, “We four schemed up putting max­i­mum pres­sure on Con­gress while they were vot­ing” in order to “change the hearts and minds of Repub­li­cans who were in that body, hear­ing our loud roar from out­side.”

    ...

    Last Decem­ber, after fac­ing sub­poe­nas from the House Select Com­mit­tee inves­ti­gat­ing the Jan. 6 attack on the Capi­tol, Alexan­der hand­ed over some 1,500 text mes­sages and oth­er com­mu­ni­ca­tions with Repub­li­can mem­bers of Con­gress and Trump White House aides. Among them were com­mu­ni­ca­tions with Gosar and Brooks.

    In response, a spokesper­son for Brooks released a state­ment claim­ing that Brooks’ inter­ac­tion with Alexan­der had been lim­it­ed to receiv­ing one text from the Stop the Steal orga­niz­er in Decem­ber 2020. The state­ment read, “The insin­u­a­tion that this sin­gle text to Con­gress­man Brooks from an unknown num­ber by some­one claim­ing to be ‘Ali Alexan­der’ some­how sug­gests Con­gress­man Brooks in any way helped plan the Capi­tol attack is absurd, out­ra­geous and defam­a­to­ry.”

    But accord­ing to a fil­ing from Alexan­der’s legal rep­re­sen­ta­tives, Alexan­der told the Jan. 6 com­mit­tee that he’d had phone con­ver­sa­tions with Brooks’ staff. An Octo­ber sto­ry in Rolling Stone fur­ther report­ed that two unnamed sources involved in plan­ning Jan. 6 claimed that they’d had “dozens” of con­ver­sa­tions with the offices of six mem­bers of Con­gress, includ­ing Brooks.

    At that time, Brooks told Alaba­ma jour­nal­ists that while he had­n’t helped plan the Jan. 6 ral­ly, if his staff had, “Quite frankly, I’d be proud of them.”
    ...

    Final­ly, note now Alexan­der appeared to be under­go­ing some sort of reli­gious con­ver­sion in Decem­ber of 2020 to Catholi­cism. Giv­en his unex­pect­ed mem­ber­ship in the CNP — the guy is a pro­fes­sion­al troll — and the myr­i­ad of oth­er CNP fin­ger­prints we find on the insur­rec­tion, you have to won­der what if any role that reli­gious con­ver­sion had in cement­ing Alexan­der’s sta­tus as one of the ring-lead­ers in a very seri­ous coup attempt involv­ing the most pow­er­ful theo­crat­ic polit­i­cal force in the US:

    ...
    Brooks cer­tain­ly isn’t the first Repub­li­can to be cast out of Trump World as an apos­tate. But this rep­re­sents a strik­ing depar­ture from the way Alexan­der used to talk about Brooks.

    At the Dec. 12, 2020, “Jeri­cho March,” a pro-Trump reli­gious ral­ly to protest the elec­tion results, Alexan­der appeared on stage to tell the crowd about Stop the Steal and to urge them to return to the cap­i­tal in Jan­u­ary to “occu­py D.C. full of patri­ots.” (Alexan­der, who was then in the process of con­vert­ing to a right-wing ver­sion of Catholi­cism, promised the audi­ence that they had “God’s favor,” and ral­lied them to fight “for God and coun­try!”)

    At that event, Alexan­der praised Mo Brooks specif­i­cal­ly as the first Repub­li­can mem­ber of Con­gress to vow he would object to the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of elec­toral votes on Jan. 6. “Thank God for Con­gress­man Mo Brooks,” Alexan­der said. “He’s said he’ll object to the House cer­ti­fi­ca­tion on Jan. 6. We need some of his col­leagues to join him. We expect them to join him — or we will throw them out of office.”

    He con­tin­ued, “I want to tell the Repub­li­can Par­ty that if one of these sen­a­tors does­n’t join Mo Brooks, we will burn the Repub­li­can Par­ty down. We will make some­thing new.”

    ...

    At the pro-Trump ral­ly on the morn­ing of Jan. 6, Brooks deliv­ered a vit­ri­olic call to action, telling the crowd on the Wash­ing­ton Ellipse, “Today is the day Amer­i­can patri­ots start tak­ing down names and kick­ing ass.”

    As a Feb­ru­ary 2022 report not­ed, Brooks’ speech that day also delved into Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist rhetoric. “Today, Repub­li­can sen­a­tors and con­gress­men will either vote to turn Amer­i­ca into a god­less, amoral, dic­ta­to­r­i­al, oppressed, and social­ist nation on the decline,” he said, “or they will join us, and they will fight and vote against vot­er fraud and elec­tion theft and vote for keep­ing Amer­i­ca great.”
    ...

    And that brings us to a pro­found­ly dis­turb­ing Salon arti­cle from a few months ago about a new trend on the Chris­t­ian Right: ‘Alt Right’ con­verts look­ing to ‘main­stream’ them­selves after flirt­ing too heav­i­ly with overt fas­cism. It’s not just Ali Alexan­der. Fig­ures like Faith Goldy, Milo Yiannop­u­lous, Jack Poso­biec, and Nick Fuentes have all sud­den­ly because Catholic over the year or so. Recall how ‘Alt Right’ per­son­al­i­ty Nick Fuenteswho spoke at the Decem­ber 12 “Stop the Steal” ral­ly where Trump did mul­ti­ple Marine One fly­overswas open­ly rumi­nat­ing about killing state leg­is­la­tors who don’t sup­port the efforts to over­turn the elec­tion for Trump. He was basi­cal­ly part­ner of the “Stop the Steal” move­ment. And like Ali Alexan­der, Nick Fuentes sud­den­ly recent­ly found Jesus in a big way. Along with a bunch of oth­er ‘Alt Right’ per­son­al­i­ties push­ing the kinds of ideas that would be very appeal­ing to a Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist author­i­tar­i­an agen­da:

    Salon

    Right-wing Catholic boom­let grows: “Gun Girl” signs up with Moth­er Church
    Ludi­crous for­mer Kent State stu­dent joins Milo Yiannopou­los, Ali Alexan­der in embrace of “trad-Cath” reli­gion

    By Kathryn Joyce
    Pub­lished Jan­u­ary 8, 2022 12:00PM (EST)

    In ear­ly Decem­ber, Kaitlin Ben­nett, the 20-some­thing far-right provo­ca­teur known as “Kent State Gun Girl,” who has made a career out of record­ing her­self antag­o­niz­ing lib­er­al col­lege stu­dents, issued a new set of self-mythol­o­giz­ing images. In a word­less four-minute video that begins with the sound of a fetal heart­beat, a series of slow-motion shots jux­ta­pose Catholic iconog­ra­phy with a preg­nant Ben­nett caress­ing her bel­ly in front of altars, sit­ting in pews, hold­ing rosary beads, and smil­ing gen­tly at the cam­era. The final shot pans slow­ly up Ben­net­t’s body — from feet to form-fit­ting dress to waist-length blond hair — before ascend­ing into an iden­ti­cal pan over a stat­ue of the Vir­gin Mary.

    The preg­nan­cy announce­ment video was post­ed on Lib­er­ty Hang­outs, a right-wing web­site and YouTube chan­nel found­ed by Ben­net­t’s hus­band, which bills itself as “the offi­cial home of Kaitlin Ben­nett.” But this was just part two of anoth­er big reveal sev­er­al days ear­li­er, when Ben­nett announced she was no longer an athe­ist, but had con­vert­ed to Roman Catholi­cism, thanks to var­i­ous fac­tors: her hus­band’s devout belief, her cat get­ting sick, and a lib­er­al pro­test­er she tan­gled with who expressed hos­til­i­ty toward reli­gion.

    Days lat­er, a pop-reli­gion web­site owned by Catholic media giant EWTN, the largest reli­gious media net­work world­wide, cov­ered the news like a breath­less tabloid “baby bump” watch. Ben­nett began appear­ing on right-wing Catholic shows, like that of Life­Site­News, to dis­cuss her con­ver­sion and her con­vic­tion that LGBTQ Pride Month was a man­i­fes­ta­tion of the worst of the sev­en dead­ly sins. She tweet­ed a pic­ture of her­self in a white lace man­til­la after attend­ing her first Tra­di­tion­al Latin Mass, and her hus­band, Justin Moldow, told Catholic-right YouTu­ber Tim­o­thy Gor­don that film­ing his wife being jeered off col­lege cam­pus­es had “tru­ly felt like I was wit­ness­ing the Pas­sion of the Christ in that moment.”

    In an era of deeply sil­ly fame-seek­ing inter­net per­sonas, Ben­net­t’s per­for­mance as a stunt­woman of the far right man­ages to stand out. As pres­i­dent of Kent State’s Turn­ing Point USA chap­ter in 2017, she over­saw a “dia­per protest” mock­ing the notion of cam­pus “safe spaces” that man­aged to embar­rass the nation­al TPUSA, ulti­mate­ly end­ing her rela­tion­ship with the group. The next year, she became inter­net-famous for post­ing a grad­u­a­tion pic­ture of her­self wear­ing a short dress, heels and an AR-10. She briefly worked with Alex Jones’s con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry out­fit Infowars, shot up a paper sign read­ing “Hap­py Hol­i­days,” and mar­ket­ed an end­less array of “gun girl” merch. (As Ruth Gra­ham not­ed in a Slate pro­file after Ben­nett was run off Ohio Uni­ver­si­ty’s Athens cam­pus, Ben­net­t’s own social media accounts declare her intent to “mon­e­tize the haters.”)

    But beneath the lib-trolling spec­ta­cle, there’s a deep­er pat­tern at work. For one thing, Lib­er­ty Hang­out, run by Ben­nett and Moldow, has a long his­to­ry of hard-right pol­i­tics, advanc­ing con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries like “White geno­cide,” mak­ing ref­er­ence to the white suprema­cist “14 words,” and polling its read­er­ship on whether the Holo­caust real­ly hap­pened quite the way they were taught in school. (“It does­n’t seem pos­si­ble six mil­lion were killed,” the group’s Twit­ter account argued.) On its pod­cast through­out the ear­ly years of the Trump pres­i­den­cy, the group host­ed a string of “alt-right” celebri­ties, includ­ing some of the peo­ple found liable this past Novem­ber for incit­ing vio­lence at the 2017 Unite the Right protest in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia. But over the last cou­ple of months the account has trans­formed into such a uni­form stream of Catholic imagery that fol­low­ers com­plained they’d gone “from being all about Amer­i­ca and lib­er­ty to being all about the Vat­i­can and Mex­i­cans” (the lat­ter appar­ent­ly in response to a post fea­tur­ing a Mex­i­can saint).

    In this, Lib­er­ty Hang­out and its com­bat­ive star were retrac­ing a path tak­en by a num­ber of oth­er far-right activists asso­ci­at­ed with rem­nants of the alt-right and the move­ments jock­ey­ing to take its place. After Cana­di­an white suprema­cist per­son­al­i­ty Faith Goldy was fired from her posi­tion at the right-wing out­let Rebel News for appear­ing on a pod­cast of the neo-Nazi Dai­ly Stormer, she made a very vis­i­ble return to Catholi­cism, and has found a warm wel­come in some cor­ners of the Catholic right. A year ago, Stop the Steal founder Ali Alexan­der made a splashy announce­ment of his own con­ver­sion to the Catholic Church only days before he helped direct a mob of pro­test­ers to the U.S. Capi­tol. Sev­er­al months lat­er, in mid-March, dis­graced for­mer Bre­it­bart writer and alt-right star Milo Yiannopou­los told Life­Site­News that return­ing to the Catholic Church had helped him become “ex-gay.”

    They were join­ing a num­ber of oth­er far-right fig­ures who have con­spic­u­ous­ly inter­twined their polit­i­cal advo­ca­cy with right-wing Catholi­cism, includ­ing Jack Poso­biec, the Piz­za­gate pro­mot­er turned right-wing com­men­ta­tor, and Nicholas Fuentes, the youth­ful founder of the Amer­i­ca First or “groyper” move­ment, who has built a mas­sive online fol­low­ing. When the var­i­ous fac­tions of the alt-right decid­ed to gath­er in Char­lottesville in the sum­mer of 2017, they did most of their pre-ral­ly orga­niz­ing in chat rooms online. One of the most pop­u­lar, named the “Nick Fuentes Serv­er,” was ded­i­cat­ed to Catholics seek­ing “to explore the con­nec­tions between their church” and Unite the Right. Hun­dreds of posters in that room talked about tra­di­tion­al­ist Catholi­cism and post­ed memes with Cru­sades-era imagery and rhetoric along­side overt­ly anti­se­mit­ic and pro-Nazi posts.

    “Once the alt-right dis­in­te­grat­ed in 2018 and 2019, a num­ber of them turned inward, toward reli­gion, now that they’ve been de-plat­formed and their first attempts to change soci­ety have been rebuffed,” said Ben Lor­ber, a research ana­lyst at Polit­i­cal Research Asso­ciates who has stud­ied Fuentes’ move­ment. “It seems like a way to get a foot back into the main­stream for peo­ple like [Yian­napou­los] who were exclud­ed dur­ing the years of the alt-right.”

    For mod­er­ate or lib­er­al Catholics con­cerned about the extreme polit­i­cal divides with­in their church, these were wor­ry­ing devel­op­ments — part of the increas­ing entan­gle­ment of Amer­i­can Catholi­cism with ever-more right-wing U.S. pol­i­tics, which over the last five years has includ­ed large swaths of the far right using Catholic imagery or append­ing phras­es like “Deus Vult” and “Viva Cristo Rey” to their tweets.

    To Tablet Vat­i­can cor­re­spon­dent Christo­pher Lamb, author of a papal biog­ra­phy, “The Out­sider: Pope Fran­cis and His Bat­tle to Reform the Church,” which details the grow­ing polit­i­cal polar­iza­tion with­in the world’s largest reli­gious denom­i­na­tion, this was evi­dence of the far right’s efforts to infuse their move­ment with spir­i­tu­al pur­pose. When you already trade in the pol­i­tics of iden­ti­ty, Lamb asked, “How do you deep­en that trib­al­ism? You do it through reli­gious imagery. In a sense, you emp­ty the con­tent of the reli­gious and use the exter­nals — the rosary beads, the cru­ci­fix, some words, per­haps some prayers — but you use it as an iden­ti­ty mark­er to give your move­ment a sense that it has a soul or deep­er inten­si­ty at a moral lev­el.”

    David Laf­fer­ty, a writer at Where Peter Is, a mod­er­ate Catholic web­site that tracks the influ­ence of the Catholic right with­in the church. offered a sim­i­lar analy­sis. “I think there’s a broad­er pat­tern here, where a lot of peo­ple who are part of the larg­er pop­ulist right, or MAGA move­ment, or what used to be called the alt-right, are will­ing to use any oppor­tu­ni­ty to find a new audi­ence,” he said. “When you tap into the ecosys­tem of online Catholi­cism, you’ve got a built-in audi­ence with big tra­di­tion­al­ist or ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive Catholic sites, all of which have very devot­ed fol­low­ers and fan bases. If you’re com­ing from the pop­ulist right into the church, you’re going to be able to walk right into that world and become a sort of instant celebri­ty.”

    ...

    “I pray that maybe there’s some­thing gen­uine in there, and she’ll drop off the radar and become a hum­ble per­son try­ing to be a good Catholic,” Laf­fer­ty said of Ben­net­t’s con­ver­sion, and oth­ers by promi­nent far-right fig­ures. “Some­how, I doubt that. I think there are larg­er forces here, ready to use any­thing that’s avail­able to spread the right-wing pop­ulist mes­sage, gain more fol­low­ers, cause more con­tro­ver­sy.”

    ————-

    “Right-wing Catholic boom­let grows: “Gun Girl” signs up with Moth­er Church” by Kathryn Joyce; Salon; 01/08/2022

    “David Laf­fer­ty, a writer at Where Peter Is, a mod­er­ate Catholic web­site that tracks the influ­ence of the Catholic right with­in the church. offered a sim­i­lar analy­sis. “I think there’s a broad­er pat­tern here, where a lot of peo­ple who are part of the larg­er pop­ulist right, or MAGA move­ment, or what used to be called the alt-right, are will­ing to use any oppor­tu­ni­ty to find a new audi­ence,” he said. “When you tap into the ecosys­tem of online Catholi­cism, you’ve got a built-in audi­ence with big tra­di­tion­al­ist or ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive Catholic sites, all of which have very devot­ed fol­low­ers and fan bases. If you’re com­ing from the pop­ulist right into the church, you’re going to be able to walk right into that world and become a sort of instant celebri­ty.”

    If you’re look­ing, the broad­er pat­tern is there to see: a bunch of celebri­ty fas­cists have sud­den­ly found Jesus. And been warm­ly wel­comed by the Chris­t­ian com­mu­ni­ty it appears. It’s been such a warm wel­come that you could call it a fusion. A Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist fusion move­ment:

    ...
    But beneath the lib-trolling spec­ta­cle, there’s a deep­er pat­tern at work. For one thing, Lib­er­ty Hang­out, run by Ben­nett and Moldow, has a long his­to­ry of hard-right pol­i­tics, advanc­ing con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries like “White geno­cide,” mak­ing ref­er­ence to the white suprema­cist “14 words,” and polling its read­er­ship on whether the Holo­caust real­ly hap­pened quite the way they were taught in school. (“It does­n’t seem pos­si­ble six mil­lion were killed,” the group’s Twit­ter account argued.) On its pod­cast through­out the ear­ly years of the Trump pres­i­den­cy, the group host­ed a string of “alt-right” celebri­ties, includ­ing some of the peo­ple found liable this past Novem­ber for incit­ing vio­lence at the 2017 Unite the Right protest in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia. But over the last cou­ple of months the account has trans­formed into such a uni­form stream of Catholic imagery that fol­low­ers com­plained they’d gone “from being all about Amer­i­ca and lib­er­ty to being all about the Vat­i­can and Mex­i­cans” (the lat­ter appar­ent­ly in response to a post fea­tur­ing a Mex­i­can saint).

    In this, Lib­er­ty Hang­out and its com­bat­ive star were retrac­ing a path tak­en by a num­ber of oth­er far-right activists asso­ci­at­ed with rem­nants of the alt-right and the move­ments jock­ey­ing to take its place. After Cana­di­an white suprema­cist per­son­al­i­ty Faith Goldy was fired from her posi­tion at the right-wing out­let Rebel News for appear­ing on a pod­cast of the neo-Nazi Dai­ly Stormer, she made a very vis­i­ble return to Catholi­cism, and has found a warm wel­come in some cor­ners of the Catholic right. A year ago, Stop the Steal founder Ali Alexan­der made a splashy announce­ment of his own con­ver­sion to the Catholic Church only days before he helped direct a mob of pro­test­ers to the U.S. Capi­tol. Sev­er­al months lat­er, in mid-March, dis­graced for­mer Bre­it­bart writer and alt-right star Milo Yiannopou­los told Life­Site­News that return­ing to the Catholic Church had helped him become “ex-gay.”

    They were join­ing a num­ber of oth­er far-right fig­ures who have con­spic­u­ous­ly inter­twined their polit­i­cal advo­ca­cy with right-wing Catholi­cism, includ­ing Jack Poso­biec, the Piz­za­gate pro­mot­er turned right-wing com­men­ta­tor, and Nicholas Fuentes, the youth­ful founder of the Amer­i­ca First or “groyper” move­ment, who has built a mas­sive online fol­low­ing. When the var­i­ous fac­tions of the alt-right decid­ed to gath­er in Char­lottesville in the sum­mer of 2017, they did most of their pre-ral­ly orga­niz­ing in chat rooms online. One of the most pop­u­lar, named the “Nick Fuentes Serv­er,” was ded­i­cat­ed to Catholics seek­ing “to explore the con­nec­tions between their church” and Unite the Right. Hun­dreds of posters in that room talked about tra­di­tion­al­ist Catholi­cism and post­ed memes with Cru­sades-era imagery and rhetoric along­side overt­ly anti­se­mit­ic and pro-Nazi posts.
    ...

    It’s that broad­er rela­tion­ship between far right and Chris­t­ian nation­al­ism that makes Alexan­der’s sud­den claims about not know­ing any­thing about any­thing so intrigu­ing with­in the con­text of the broad­er sto­ry of what led up to Jan­u­ary 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion. Ali Alexan­der real­ly is like the liv­ing embod­i­ment of the fusion of fas­cist pol­i­tics, GOP dirty trick­ster­ism, and Chris­t­ian Nation­al­ism. The guy is oper­at­ing at a nexus of dark pol­i­tics. He was clear­ly play­ing a sig­nif­i­cant role in the orga­niz­ing that led up to the Jan­u­ary 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion. He was rail­ing about Mo Brook­s’s ‘betray­al’ just two weeks ago. And now he’s play­ing dumb after being sub­poe­naed by a grand jury.

    But who knows, maybe Ali Alexan­der real­ly does­n’t know about any of the crim­i­nal schem­ing involved with the Capi­tol insur­rec­tion. It’s pos­si­ble. About as pos­si­ble as any of these unre­pen­tant fas­cists hav­ing actu­al­ly ‘found Jesus’ all of a sud­den.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 10, 2022, 10:53 pm
  16. Ques­tions are swirling with grow­ing inten­si­ty about the role(s) Supreme Court Jus­tice Clarence Thomas’s wife, Gin­ni, played in the events lead­ing up to the Jan­u­ary 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion fol­low­ing reports that she was in fre­quent con­tact with White House Chief of Staff Mark Mead­ows in the days fol­low­ing the 2020 elec­tion, push­ing all sorts of aggres­sive non­sense legal strate­gies. Not only was she coor­di­nat­ing with fel­low CNP-mem­ber Cle­ta Mitchell, but also John East­man. As the fol­low­ing exhaus­tive piece on Gin­ni Thomas in the New York Times describes, East­man was a for­mer clerk of Clarence Thomas and close friends with the cou­ple to this day.

    It’s one of the myr­i­ad of facts about Gin­ni and Clarence Thomas in the arti­cle that demon­strates their sta­tus as a major con­ser­v­a­tive pow­er cou­ple wag­ing a decades long and pro­found­ly impact­ful cru­sade to shape the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment in a hard right direc­tion, with Clarence play­ing very pub­lic if qui­et role as the once lone voice for a judi­cial phi­los­o­phy that is now cement­ed as the major­i­ty and Gin­ni play­ing a high­ly active behind-the-scenes role. A role that includes team­ing up with fel­low CNP-mem­ber Steve Ban­non back in 2013 to cre­ate the Groundswell group, designed to com­pete with Grover Norquist’s ‘Wednes­day meet­ings’ as a key con­ser­v­a­tive orga­niz­ing tool. As we’re going to see when we look at the range ear­ly Groundswell fig­ures, it was basi­cal­ly a CNP oper­a­tion.

    Groundswell’s influ­ence swelled dur­ing the Trump admin­is­tra­tion after Trump began try­ing to court Clarence Thomas fol­low­ing rumors Thomas was con­sid­er­ing retir­ing. Trump asked for a pri­vate meet­ing with Thomas, but he showed up with Gin­ni. That led to her direct rela­tion­ship with Trump that some­how got her in a role to advise on Trump staffing deci­sions. She appar­ent­ly did­n’t think the Trump staff was MAGA enough. She also report­ed­ly kept try­ing to get peo­ple who can’t pass a back­ground check hired. And she also would bring in entire groups of Groundswell peo­ple to lead these efforts, to the appar­ent sur­prise and dis­gruntle­ment of White House staff.

    In 2019, Gin­ni joined the advi­so­ry board of the C.N.P. Action group, the CNP’s main polit­i­cal action tool. As we’re going to see, C.N.P. Action did­n’t waste time get­ting active fol­low­ing Trump’s Novem­ber 2020, secret­ly dis­trib­ut­ing mem­os to Repub­li­can law­mak­ers encour­ag­ing them to chal­lenge the elec­tion results in swings states and elect alter­nate slates of elec­tors. Which is of course what hap­pened. The CNP real­ly was a key orga­niz­ing force for the ‘Stop the Steal’ effort from the begin­ning. They were writ­ing the script!

    Oh, and inter­est­ing­ly, it sounds like Gin­ni was play­ing impor­tant ‘uni­ty’ roles in smooth­ing over rival ‘Stop the Steal’ fac­tions. Specif­i­cal­ly, Jen­ny Beth Mar­tin of Tea Par­ty Patri­ots and Amy Kre­mer of Women for Amer­i­ca First were appar­ent­ly feud­ing, but Gin­ni knows both of them from their time as Tea Par­ty activists. Also, the fact that all three are CNP mem­bers may have played a role. And that also rais­es obvi­ous ques­tions about what pos­si­ble ‘uni­fy­ing’ role Gin­ni may have been play­ing with the oth­er known rival­ry between the ‘Stop the Steal’ fac­tions: the appar­ent rival­ry between the ‘offi­cial’ Women for Trump ral­ly at the Ellipse and the ‘wild’ Stop the Steal ral­ly orga­nized by Alex Jones and fel­low CNP-mem­ber Ali Alexan­der. Was there any CNP uni­ty between Ali and Gin­ni? It’s actu­al­ly a very rel­e­vant ques­tion in this inves­ti­ga­tion. Gin­ni real­ly does appear to have played a key orga­niz­ing role. As we might expect from the board mem­ber of C.N.P. Action. And don’t for­get that C.N.P. Action is still active today, work­ing on the next elec­tion. That’s all part of why the ques­tions swirling around Gin­ni Thomas’s role in the Jan­u­ary 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion are swirling with such inten­si­ty. Gin­ni is like the liv­ing embod­i­ment of the CNP’s pro­found role in the insur­rec­tion. And pos­si­bly a key play­er in the whole thing:

    The New York Times

    The Long Cru­sade of Clarence and Gin­ni Thomas

    The Supreme Court jus­tice and his wife bat­tled for years for a more con­ser­v­a­tive Amer­i­ca. New report­ing shows how far she was will­ing to go after Don­ald Trump’s 2020 elec­tion loss.

    By Dan­ny Hakim and Jo Beck­er
    Pub­lished Feb. 22, 2022 Updat­ed Feb. 23, 2022

    The call to action was titled “Elec­tion Results and Legal Bat­tles: What Now?” Shared in the days after the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, it urged the mem­bers of an influ­en­tial if secre­tive right-wing group to con­tact leg­is­la­tors in three of the swing states that tipped the bal­ance for Joe Biden — Ari­zona, Geor­gia and Penn­syl­va­nia. The aim was auda­cious: Keep Pres­i­dent Don­ald J. Trump in pow­er.

    The group, the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy, brings togeth­er old-school Repub­li­can lumi­nar­ies, Chris­t­ian con­ser­v­a­tives, Tea Par­ty activists and MAGA oper­a­tives, with more than 400 mem­bers who include lead­ers of orga­ni­za­tions like the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety, the Nation­al Rifle Asso­ci­a­tion and the Fam­i­ly Research Coun­cil. Found­ed in 1981 as a coun­ter­weight to lib­er­al­ism, the group was hailed by Pres­i­dent Ronald Rea­gan as seek­ing the “return of right­eous­ness, jus­tice and truth” to Amer­i­ca.

    As Trump insist­ed, with­out evi­dence, that fraud had cheat­ed him of vic­to­ry, con­ser­v­a­tive groups rushed to ral­ly behind him. The coun­cil stood out, how­ev­er, not only because of its pedi­gree but also because one of its newest lead­ers was Vir­ginia Thomas, the wife of Jus­tice Clarence Thomas and a long­time activist in right-wing cir­cles. She had tak­en on a promi­nent role at the coun­cil dur­ing the Trump years and by 2019 had joined the nine-mem­ber board of C.N.P. Action, an arm of the coun­cil orga­nized as a 501©4 under a pro­vi­sion of the tax code that allows for direct polit­i­cal advo­ca­cy. It was C.N.P. Action that cir­cu­lat­ed the Novem­ber “action steps” doc­u­ment, the exis­tence of which has not been wide­ly known. It instruct­ed mem­bers to pres­sure Repub­li­can law­mak­ers into chal­leng­ing the elec­tion results and appoint­ing alter­nate slates of elec­tors: “Demand that they not aban­don their Con­sti­tu­tion­al respon­si­bil­i­ties dur­ing a time such as this.”

    Such a plan, if car­ried out suc­cess­ful­ly, would have almost cer­tain­ly land­ed before the Supreme Court — and Gin­ni Thomas’s hus­band. In fact, Trump was already call­ing for that to hap­pen. In a Dec. 2 speech at the White House, the pres­i­dent false­ly claimed that “mil­lions of votes were cast ille­gal­ly in swing states alone” and said he hoped “the Supreme Court of the Unit­ed States will see it” and “will do what’s right for our coun­try, because our coun­try can­not live with this kind of an elec­tion.”

    The Thomases have long posed a unique quandary in Wash­ing­ton. Because Supreme Court jus­tices do not want to be per­ceived as par­ti­san, they tend to avoid polit­i­cal events and entan­gle­ments, and their spous­es often keep low pro­files. But the Thomases have defied such norms. Since the found­ing of the nation, no spouse of a sit­ting Supreme Court jus­tice has been as overt a polit­i­cal activist as Gin­ni Thomas. In addi­tion to her perch at the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy, she found­ed a group called Groundswell with the sup­port of Stephen K. Ban­non, the hard-line nation­al­ist and for­mer Trump advis­er. It holds a week­ly meet­ing of influ­en­tial con­ser­v­a­tives, many of whom work direct­ly on issues that have come before the court.

    Gin­ni Thomas insists, in her coun­cil biog­ra­phy, that she and her hus­band oper­ate in “sep­a­rate pro­fes­sion­al lanes,” but those lanes in fact merge with notable fre­quen­cy. For the three decades he has sat on the Supreme Court, they have worked in tan­dem from the bench and the polit­i­cal trench­es to take aim at tar­gets like Roe v. Wade and affir­ma­tive action. Togeth­er they believe that “Amer­i­ca is in a vicious bat­tle for its found­ing prin­ci­ples,” as Gin­ni Thomas has put it. Her views, once seen as on the fringe, have come to dom­i­nate the Repub­li­can Par­ty. And with Trump’s three appoint­ments reshap­ing the Supreme Court, her hus­band finds him­self at the cen­ter of a new con­ser­v­a­tive major­i­ty poised to shake the foun­da­tions of set­tled law. In a nation freight­ed with divi­sion and upheaval, the Thomases have found their moment.

    This arti­cle draws on hours of record­ings and inter­nal doc­u­ments from groups affil­i­at­ed with the Thomases; dozens of inter­views with the Thomases’ class­mates, friends, col­leagues and crit­ics, as well as more than a dozen Trump White House aides and sup­port­ers and some of Jus­tice Thomas’s for­mer clerks; and an archive of Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy videos and inter­nal doc­u­ments pro­vid­ed by an aca­d­e­m­ic researcher in Aus­tralia, Brent All­press.

    The report­ing uncov­ered new details on the Thomases’ ascent: how Trump court­ed Jus­tice Thomas; how Gin­ni Thomas used that courtship to gain access to the Oval Office, where her insis­tent pol­i­cy and per­son­nel sug­ges­tions so aggra­vat­ed aides that one called her a “wreck­ing ball” while oth­ers put togeth­er an oppo­si­tion-research-style report on her that was obtained by The Times; and the extent to which Jus­tice Thomas flout­ed judi­cial-ethics guid­ance by par­tic­i­pat­ing in events host­ed by con­ser­v­a­tive orga­ni­za­tions with mat­ters before the court. Those orga­ni­za­tions show­ered the cou­ple with acco­lades and, in at least one case, used their appear­ances to attract event fees, dona­tions and new mem­bers.

    New report­ing also shows just how blurred the lines between the couple’s inter­ests became dur­ing the effort to over­turn the 2020 elec­tion, which cul­mi­nat­ed in the ral­ly held at the Ellipse, just out­side the White House grounds, aimed at stop­ping Con­gress from cer­ti­fy­ing the state votes that gave Joe Biden his vic­to­ry. Many of the ral­ly orga­niz­ers and those advis­ing Trump had con­nec­tions to the Thomases, but lit­tle has been known about what role, if any, Gin­ni Thomas played, beyond the fact that on the morn­ing of the March to Save Amer­i­ca, as the ral­ly was called, she urged her Face­book fol­low­ers to watch how the day unfold­ed. “LOVE MAGA peo­ple!!!!” she post­ed before the march turned vio­lent. “GOD BLESS EACH OF YOU STANDING UP or PRAYING!”

    But her role went deep­er, and beyond C.N.P. Action. Dustin Stock­ton, an orga­niz­er who worked with Women for Amer­i­ca First, which held the per­mit for the Ellipse ral­ly, said he was told that Gin­ni Thomas played a peace­mak­ing role between feud­ing fac­tions of ral­ly orga­niz­ers “so that there wouldn’t be any divi­sion around Jan­u­ary 6.”

    “The way it was pre­sent­ed to me was that Gin­ni was unit­ing these dif­fer­ent fac­tions around a sin­gu­lar mis­sion on Jan­u­ary 6,” said Stock­ton, who pre­vi­ous­ly worked for Ban­non. “That Gin­ni was involved made sense — she’s pret­ty neu­tral, and she doesn’t have a lot of ene­mies in the move­ment.”

    Gin­ni Thomas, who turns 65 on April 25, did not respond to requests for com­ment, and Jus­tice Thomas, who is 73, declined to com­ment through a court spokesper­son. In a post­ing on a pri­vate Face­book group for her high school class­mates, Gin­ni Thomas wrote that “a NYT reporter” might have “con­tact­ed you look­ing for sto­ries, etc on me. This reporter seems to have been told to write a hit piece” and “has knocked on many doors and writ­ten many emails. They all con­tact me and are not respond­ing. ??” she wrote. “What­ev­er. ?????” (The mes­sage was for­ward­ed by one of those class­mates to the reporter in ques­tion.)

    In the weeks that fol­lowed Jan. 6, as pub­lic con­dem­na­tion of the insur­rec­tion grew to include some Repub­li­can lead­ers like Sen­a­tor Mitch McConnell, the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy cir­cu­lat­ed in its newslet­ter anoth­er pre­vi­ous­ly unre­port­ed memo, writ­ten by one of its mem­bers, that out­lined strate­gies to make the Capi­tol riot seem more palat­able. “Dri­ve the nar­ra­tive that it was most­ly peace­ful protests,” a lead­ing mem­ber of the group advised, accord­ing to a copy reviewed by The Times. “Ampli­fy the con­cerns of the pro­tes­tors and give them legit­i­ma­cy.”

    In the year since the insur­rec­tion, a num­ber of friends and allies of the Thomases, and even a for­mer Thomas clerk, have received sub­poe­nas from the con­gres­sion­al com­mit­tee inves­ti­gat­ing the events of Jan. 6. Gin­ni Thomas co-signed a let­ter in Decem­ber call­ing for House Repub­li­cans to expel Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger from their con­fer­ence for join­ing the Jan. 6 com­mit­tee. Thomas and her co-authors said the inves­ti­ga­tion “brings dis­re­spect to our country’s rule of law” and “legal harass­ment to pri­vate cit­i­zens who have done noth­ing wrong,” adding that they would begin “a nation­wide move­ment to add cit­i­zens’ voic­es to this effort.”

    A few weeks lat­er, the Supreme Court ruled 8 to 1 to allow the release of records from the Trump White House relat­ed to the Jan. 6 attack. Jus­tice Thomas was the sole dis­senter.

    Near­ly 10 months after the dra­mat­ic events at the Capi­tol, Gin­ni Thomas ven­tured out onto a small bal­cony inside the Her­itage Foun­da­tion, the con­ser­v­a­tive redoubt that stands on Mass­a­chu­setts Avenue a few blocks from the Capi­tol. In a bright red dress, she beamed and waved to friends in the crowd who gath­ered last Octo­ber to cel­e­brate her husband’s three decades on the Supreme Court. Beyond a sweep­ing bank of win­dows, the sun had sunk to just above the hori­zon, next to the Wash­ing­ton Mon­u­ment.

    The atten­dees rep­re­sent­ed the cream of Washington’s Repub­li­can legal estab­lish­ment, “real­ly a who’s who of all-stars,” as one of them, Don­ald F. McGahn II, the first White House coun­sel under Trump, would say when the speech­es start­ed. Many had clerked for Jus­tice Thomas, includ­ing a num­ber of Trump-appoint­ed judges who are them­selves touch­stones on the right, like Neo­mi Rao and James Ho. Oth­ers were activists who had worked along­side Gin­ni Thomas, a Tea Par­ty vet­er­an.

    Though efforts to over­turn the elec­tion had failed and Joe Biden was deep into his first year as pres­i­dent, the mood in the room was buoy­ant, even tri­umphal. Jus­tice Thomas, who for years labored at the mar­gins of the court, now found him­self with a new 6‑to‑3 con­ser­v­a­tive major­i­ty. At the Her­itage trib­ute, Mitch McConnell, the Sen­ate Repub­li­can leader, called Thomas “a legal titan” and “the bright­est pos­si­ble north star.” Play­ing to the crowd of near­ly 250 of his party’s elite, he dry­ly asked: “What could I, Mitch McConnell, pos­si­bly know about a notable leader who is par­si­mo­nious with his pub­lic state­ments? Who shuns the per­for­ma­tive aspect of pub­lic life? And who is viewed as a boogey­man by the rad­i­cal left? What would I know about that?” Among the crowd’s laugh­ter, Thomas’s deep bari­tone was most audi­ble.

    ...

    Three decades into his life­time term, Thomas has not built his rep­u­ta­tion by writ­ing land­mark major­i­ty rul­ings. Instead, he has been set­ting the stage for a shift in influ­ence, writ­ing solo opin­ions on issues like free speech, guns and abor­tion that are now poised to become major­i­ty opin­ions. “Take his jurispru­dence on unborn life,” McConnell told the Her­itage Foun­da­tion crowd. “Every time, with­out fail, Jus­tice Thomas writes a sep­a­rate, con­cise opin­ion to cut through the 50-year tan­gle of made-up tests and shift­ing stan­dards and calm­ly reminds every­body that the whole house of cards lacks a con­sti­tu­tion­al foun­da­tion.”

    “Jus­tice Thomas does not break, or bend, or bow,” he said. “We need a fed­er­al judi­cia­ry full of men and women who are as bright as Jus­tice Thomas, as expert­ly trained as Jus­tice Thomas, but most impor­tant­ly, most impor­tant­ly, as com­mit­ted to total unflinch­ing judi­cial inde­pen­dence.” But in Thomas’s own remarks, he allud­ed to the shared pur­pose of those gath­ered. “It is a joy, an absolute joy, to be able to stand here and cel­e­brate this moment,” he said, “not because of me but because of you all and what we’re try­ing to defend in this great coun­try.”

    If Thomas has been lay­ing the ground­work for a con­ser­v­a­tive rev­o­lu­tion, so has his wife, who once worked at Her­itage her­self. Groundswell, the group she found­ed, plot­ted what it called a “30-front war” on hot-but­ton issues and seed­ed talk­ing points through­out the right-wing media, includ­ing with Bannon’s own pub­li­ca­tion at the time, Bre­it­bart News. “She’s an oper­a­tor; she stays behind the scenes,” Ban­non said in an inter­view. “Unlike a lot of peo­ple who just talk, she gets shit done.”

    The Thomases have long empha­sized how lit­tle dis­tance there is between them. As Jus­tice Thomas once wrote, his sear­ing 1991 con­fir­ma­tion, buf­fet­ed by sex­u­al-harass­ment alle­ga­tions, brought them clos­er togeth­er: “The fiery tri­al through which we passed had the effect of meld­ing us into one being — an amal­gam, as we like to say.” At the Her­itage Foun­da­tion cel­e­bra­tion, he made it clear that bruised feel­ings about the “very, very dark time” of his con­fir­ma­tion have lin­gered, thank­ing “the sen­a­tors who vot­ed for me, all 52 of them.” He named sup­port­ers who had stuck by him, includ­ing Heritage’s pres­i­dent at the time, Kay Coles James, who he said was “among my prayer part­ners 30 years ago.” And he called his wife “the rock of my life.”

    ...

    “He has chart­ed a very rad­i­cal approach to judg­ing — it’s sur­pris­ing, actu­al­ly, how far the court has moved in his direc­tion,” John Yoo, a law pro­fes­sor at U.C.-Berkeley and for­mer Thomas clerk known for draft­ing some of the “tor­ture mem­os” under Pres­i­dent George W. Bush, said dur­ing a dis­cus­sion at the Her­itage event. (Yoo also advised for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence that he did not have the author­i­ty to reject elec­toral votes on Jan. 6.) “What do you think is going to hap­pen in the next 10 years when he might have a work­able major­i­ty of orig­i­nal­ists? I think we’re going to see the fruition of the last 30 years in the next 10.”

    The founders saw the courts as the guardians of the Con­sti­tu­tion. In Fed­er­al­ist No. 78, which laid out the role of Amer­i­can courts, Alexan­der Hamil­ton wrote that they “were designed to be an inter­me­di­ate body between the peo­ple and the leg­is­la­ture” and “keep the lat­ter with­in the lim­its assigned to their author­i­ty.” But at the same time, he wrote, the judi­cia­ry would be the weak­est of the new government’s three branch­es. While the exec­u­tive “holds the sword” and the leg­is­la­ture “com­mands the purse,” the judi­cia­ry “will always be the least dan­ger­ous to the polit­i­cal rights of the Con­sti­tu­tion; because it will be least in a capac­i­ty to annoy or injure them.”

    The Supreme Court must rely on pub­lic accep­tance of its deci­sions. For decades, the desire to shield the court from charges of par­ti­san­ship has giv­en rise to insti­tu­tion­al­ist jus­tices who uphold cer­tain norms. They avoid opin­ions that get too far out ahead of pub­lic opin­ion or too blithe­ly over­turn prece­dents. Instead they adhere to the doc­trine of stare deci­sis, for the most part treat­ing pri­or deci­sions as set­tled law, and pre­fer to rule in ways that win broad sup­port. They also steer clear of attend­ing open­ly par­ti­san events.

    But as the court has tak­en a hard right turn with Trump’s appoint­ments, it is also increas­ing­ly seen as com­posed of clash­ing ide­o­logues, both lib­er­al and con­ser­v­a­tive, rather than inde­pen­dent jurists. Even the court’s newest jus­tice, Amy Coney Bar­rett, is sen­si­tive to the charge. “My goal today is to con­vince you that this court is not com­prised of a bunch of par­ti­san hacks,” she said dur­ing a speech last year, accom­pa­ny­ing Mitch McConnell at a cen­ter named for him at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Louisville. And as the court sig­nals an appetite to take up cas­es that may well over­turn set­tled law, includ­ing Roe v. Wade, more Amer­i­cans view it as increas­ing­ly politi­cized, with a steep decline over the past year to a 40 per­cent approval rat­ing, a new low in Gallup polling.

    This dynam­ic has left Chief Jus­tice John Roberts in an increas­ing­ly iso­lat­ed posi­tion as the Supreme Court’s lead­ing insti­tu­tion­al­ist. He refrains from attend­ing par­ti­san legal forums, like those at the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety. And his wife, Jane, stepped down as a lit­i­ga­tor at her law firm after his appoint­ment. Jus­tice Thomas, how­ev­er, “believes that human beings have free will to chart our own course,” said Hel­gi Walk­er, a for­mer Thomas clerk and a part­ner at Gib­son Dunn. “And I have no doubt that applies, per­haps espe­cial­ly so, to his wife.” That said, she added, he “takes direc­tion from no one but the law.”

    Thomas has also reject­ed the insti­tu­tion­al­ist approach when it comes to the doc­trine of stare deci­sis. “When faced with a demon­stra­bly erro­neous prece­dent, my rule is sim­ple,” he wrote in a 2019 opin­ion. “We should not fol­low it.” When he has cit­ed Fed­er­al­ist No. 78, he has under­scored Hamilton’s com­ment that judges “would require an uncom­mon por­tion of for­ti­tude” to defend con­sti­tu­tion­al prin­ci­ples when they are unpop­u­lar. “The trait that Hamil­ton sin­gles out — for­ti­tude — is fun­da­men­tal to my phi­los­o­phy of life,” Thomas said in a 2001 speech to the con­ser­v­a­tive Amer­i­can Enter­prise Insti­tute.

    He has said the route to safe­guard­ing the Supreme Court is sim­ply through stricter adher­ence to the Con­sti­tu­tion, and he warned at a recent speech at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Notre Dame that judges have been exceed­ing their author­i­ty. “There’s always a temp­ta­tion, I think, to go beyond,” he said, adding that when judges “begin to ven­ture into polit­i­cal, leg­isla­tive or exec­u­tive-branch lanes,” they “are ask­ing for trou­ble.” He laid out the con­se­quences: “I think the court was thought to be the least dan­ger­ous branch, and we may have become the most dan­ger­ous.”

    But more than any oth­er sit­ting jus­tice, Thomas has stoked con­cerns of a hyper­par­ti­san court. He has fre­quent­ly appeared at high­ly polit­i­cal events host­ed by advo­cates hop­ing to sway the court. He and his wife some­times appear togeth­er at such events, and their appeal is appar­ent: He ful­fills the hard right’s long­ing for a judge — and espe­cial­ly a Black judge — obliv­i­ous to the howls of the left, while she serves up the red meat the base wants to hear in her speech­es. They often por­tray them­selves as stand­ing in the breach amid a crum­bling soci­ety. “It’s very excit­ing,” Gin­ni Thomas said dur­ing a 2018 Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy meet­ing, “the fact that there’s a resis­tance on our side to their side.”

    Her role became increas­ing­ly pub­lic in the Trump era, when she start­ed emcee­ing an annu­al awards cer­e­mo­ny cel­e­brat­ing some of the best-known Trump allies. The awards are hand­ed out in con­junc­tion with Unit­ed in Pur­pose, a group cre­at­ed by Bill Dal­las, an evan­gel­i­cal polit­i­cal activist. Some recip­i­ents lead orga­ni­za­tions that have busi­ness before the Supreme Court.

    “When the Bat­phone rings and it’s Com­mis­sion­er Gin­ni Gor­don, oth­er­wise known as Gin­ni Thomas, of course you have to show up,” said Dan Bongi­no, a for­mer Secret Ser­vice agent turned pop­u­lar pro-Trump radio host, after receiv­ing one of Thomas’s Impact Awards in 2017. “I can’t say enough about Gin­ni,” Bongi­no told the audi­ence at the event, which includ­ed the Fox News pun­dit Sean Han­ni­ty and Ed Meese, a Rea­gan admin­is­tra­tion attor­ney gen­er­al. “I idol­ize her hus­band — he’s an icon to me,” Bongi­no said, but added that it was Gin­ni Thomas who con­nect­ed him with right-wing lead­ers when he was mak­ing sev­er­al unsuc­cess­ful con­gres­sion­al bids. “I think in the long run, when you look at the impact on the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment and the prin­ci­ples we hold dear, I think her and her hus­band stand toe to toe.”

    The fed­er­al judi­cial code of con­duct, adopt­ed in 1973, restricts judges from being “a speak­er, a guest of hon­or or fea­tured on the pro­gram” at fund-rais­ing events. While the code doesn’t offi­cial­ly apply to the nine jus­tices, Roberts said in a 2011 report that the jus­tices “do in fact con­sult” it when “assess­ing their eth­i­cal oblig­a­tions” — a state­ment reit­er­at­ed by a spokes­woman for the court when we asked for com­ment. But accord­ing to doc­u­ments and record­ings of such events reviewed by The Times, Jus­tice Thomas has at least twice head­lined annu­al con­fer­ences at the Eagle Forum, a con­ser­v­a­tive grass-roots group opposed to abor­tion and mod­ern fem­i­nism. The first was in 1996 when he received an Eagle award. “He’s bet­ter than Rehn­quist, he’s bet­ter than Scalia, he’s just won­der­ful,” Phyl­lis Schlafly, the founder of the Eagle Forum and one of the most influ­en­tial con­ser­v­a­tive activists of her gen­er­a­tion, told the audi­ence, accord­ing to a cas­sette record­ing of the speech. She even recit­ed a poem in his hon­or, which began: “No high court jus­tice shows such promise/As our favorite, Clarence Thomas/You’re a jurist for the ages/Who sends lib­er­als into rages.”

    The cou­ple returned to the Eagle Forum years lat­er, in 2017; this time his wife received the Eagle award. It was the year after Schlafly died, and the orga­ni­za­tion, which is depen­dent on mem­ber and con­fer­ence fees, was strug­gling. They were fea­tured on the event pro­gram, and doc­u­ments show that Gin­ni Thomas urged atten­dees to come hear her and “my amaz­ing hus­band” in a per­son­al let­ter that was part of the event’s pro­mo­tion­al mate­ri­als, adding, “God can use such an occa­sion for encour­age­ment and insights!” (Full reg­is­tra­tion for the group’s annu­al con­fer­ence cost $350 as of 2019.) After­ward, the orga­ni­za­tion tweet­ed a pro­mo­tion­al video aimed at prospec­tive mem­bers that includ­ed footage of the couple’s appear­ance.

    In 2008, Jus­tice Thomas deliv­ered a keynote speech to donors to the Man­hat­tan Insti­tute and spoke at a secre­tive polit­i­cal retreat host­ed by the bil­lion­aire Charles Koch. And he has had a long rela­tion­ship with the Her­itage Foun­da­tion, which employed his wife as a liai­son to the George W. Bush White House. The group once invoked Jus­tice Thomas’s speech at one of its Lead­er­ship for Amer­i­ca fund-rais­ers in a direct appeal that it sent to Philip Mor­ris seek­ing a $50,000 con­tri­bu­tion. And in 2020, he object­ed to an ethics pro­pos­al cir­cu­lat­ed by the pol­i­cy­mak­ing body of the fed­er­al court sys­tem that would have barred judges from mem­ber­ship in ide­o­log­i­cal legal groups like the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety, while he was speak­ing at the group’s con­ven­tion. “I think they’re about to silence the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety,” he said. “So I guess I can’t come back.”

    Per­haps most impor­tant in under­stand­ing the couple’s far-reach­ing phi­los­o­phy and project is their long rela­tion­ship with the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy, aspects of which have not been pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed. Jus­tice Thomas head­lined an event for the group in 2002, and in 2008 he attend­ed one of its meet­ings and was pho­tographed with a gav­el behind a lectern bear­ing the group’s name.

    Just over a decade lat­er, Gin­ni Thomas would join the board of the council’s action arm. Dur­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion in 2019, she warned that “con­ser­v­a­tives and Repub­li­cans are tired of being the oppressed minor­i­ty,” adding that they were being “false­ly vil­i­fied, slan­dered and defamed as extrem­ists and big­ots and haters.” The left, she said, was “mak­ing it jus­ti­fi­able and nor­mal­ized to fight us, to hurt us, to kill us even.” For her, this was a fight decades in the mak­ing.

    Before intro­duc­ing Jus­tice Thomas at the Eagle Forum in 1996, Schlafly spoke about his moth­er-in-law. “Now, first I want to present the wife of our dis­tin­guished speak­er, Gin­ni Thomas, and I want to tell you that she is, I’m very proud to say, a sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion Eagle,” she said. “It was back in 1973 that a lit­tle group in Oma­ha, Nebras­ka, decid­ed that they would rescind Nebraska’s rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the Equal Rights Amend­ment, and it was just about half a dozen of them, but Ginni’s moth­er was in that group,” she added, call­ing it “a real turn­ing point in our long bat­tle” against the amend­ment, which the forum said would not “cel­e­brate wom­an­hood” but “erase it.”

    “And then lat­er on,” Schlafly con­tin­ued, “after the fem­i­nists moved on to anoth­er goal, after we beat them on E.R.A., they took up the goal of com­pa­ra­ble worth” — a ref­er­ence to a large­ly unsuc­cess­ful move­ment in the 1980s to require equal pay for men and women, which Schlafly called “an effort to give us wage and price con­trol.”

    “Gin­ni was then with the Cham­ber of Com­merce, and she was a great help in that, and now she is a major assis­tant for our good friend Dick Armey,” Schlafly said, refer­ring to the Repub­li­can con­gress­man from Texas who was then the House major­i­ty leader. “So, Gin­ni, stand up. We appre­ci­ate your being with us tonight.”

    Vir­ginia Thomas is the daugh­ter of a pres­i­dent of a Nebras­ka archi­tec­ture firm; the well-to-do fam­i­ly had two hous­es, one in Oma­ha and one in a near­by lake­side devel­op­ment called Gin­ger Cove that her father built. Gin­ni Lamp, as she was known then, was on a cheer squad for taller girls known as the Squires, bran­dish­ing a sword and a shield before foot­ball games. “She would march in front with that; she loved doing that,” said Sue Nor­by, a class­mate. “My oth­er friends were on the pom­pom squad because they were so short, but Gin­ni was on a dif­fer­ent squad because she was tall, with oth­er tall girls. She was the war­rior woman.”

    Ginni’s moth­er, Mar­jorie Lamp, was an out­spo­ken Repub­li­can activist and became a tow­er­ing fig­ure in her daughter’s life. When Schlafly lost a bid to become pres­i­dent of the Nation­al Fed­er­a­tion of Repub­li­can Women in 1967, Mar­jorie Lamp with­drew from the orga­ni­za­tion and called the vot­ing “rigged.” She ran unsuc­cess­ful­ly for the Nebras­ka Leg­is­la­ture in 1972 and was a 1976 Rea­gan del­e­gate, rail­ing against Ger­ald Ford’s lack of lead­er­ship; “Rea­gan peo­ple are more hard-core,” she once said. She warned in a local paper that if Jim­my Carter was elect­ed, “we’d be head­ing toward social­ism.” Democ­rats, she wrote in a 1983 let­ter to The Lin­coln Jour­nal Star, “almost brought our great coun­try to its knees with their wild spend­ing poli­cies.”

    Gin­ni Thomas has under­scored her par­ents’ resolve in her own remarks. “Our fam­i­ly didn’t believe Nixon did any­thing wrong in Water­gate until way after he admit­ted guilt,” she once said. “We believed any Repub­li­can until all the evi­dence was in, and then a lit­tle more.” She joined her high school’s Repub­li­can club in 1974, the year it start­ed, and she and her moth­er attend­ed the 1976 Repub­li­can Nation­al Con­ven­tion togeth­er. It was her moth­er, she would lat­er say, who “mod­eled con­ser­v­a­tive polit­i­cal fem­i­nism for her daugh­ters.” She attend­ed Creighton Uni­ver­si­ty in Oma­ha and earned her law degree there while work­ing for a Nebras­ka con­gress­man, Hal Daub, the first of a string of polit­i­cal jobs that took her far from Oma­ha.

    Clarence Thomas’s jour­ney to Wash­ing­ton was far dif­fer­ent. He grew up in pover­ty, first in Pin Point, Ga., a tiny enclave, now part of Savan­nah, that was estab­lished by for­mer­ly enslaved Black peo­ple after the Civ­il War. He and his moth­er and broth­er then moved to Savan­nah itself — his father left the fam­i­ly when he was 2 — and he was large­ly raised by an exceed­ing­ly strict and tem­pera­men­tal grand­fa­ther.

    For the future jus­tice, con­ser­vatism was part of an ide­o­log­i­cal jour­ney, much of it forged at Col­lege of the Holy Cross in Worces­ter, Mass., where he was among a small group of Black men that did the dif­fi­cult work of inte­grat­ing the insti­tu­tion in the late 1960s and ear­ly 1970s. He and oth­er stu­dents, includ­ing the promi­nent defense attor­ney Ted Wells, start­ed a Black Stu­dent Union, and for a time Thomas protest­ed the Viet­nam War. A piv­otal moment came after a demon­stra­tion in Cam­bridge, Mass., turned into “a full-scale riot,” he wrote in his mem­oir. “Hor­ri­fied,” he reject­ed what he saw as a pos­ture of anger and resent­ment and threw him­self into his stud­ies.

    “Just about every evening, a few min­utes after 11, there Clarence would be com­ing through the door from the library, every sin­gle evening,” recalled Edward P. Jones, the Pulitzer Prize-win­ning fic­tion writer known for his work chron­i­cling Black lives in Wash­ing­ton, who lived down the hall from Thomas as a sopho­more. “There was a fierce deter­mi­na­tion I sensed from him, that he was going to get as much as he could and get as far, ulti­mate­ly, as he could.”

    Thomas got his law degree from Yale but stuck a 15-cent cig­ar stick­er to the frame of his diplo­ma after fail­ing to get a big law job — such firms, he would write, attrib­uted his aca­d­e­m­ic pedi­gree to pref­er­en­tial treat­ment. Instead, he took the only job offer he received and went to work for Missouri’s Repub­li­can attor­ney gen­er­al, John Dan­forth, and dis­cov­ered the writ­ings of the Black con­ser­v­a­tive Thomas Sow­ell, who assailed affir­ma­tive action as under­cut­ting self-reliance; Thomas wrote that he “felt like a thirsty man gulp­ing down a glass of cool water” to see his own beliefs artic­u­lat­ed. A few years lat­er, after he was appoint­ed by Rea­gan to head the Equal Employ­ment Oppor­tu­ni­ty Com­mis­sion, he would com­plain that Black civ­il rights lead­ers “bitch, bitch, bitch, moan and moan, whine and whine.”

    Thomas ven­er­at­ed his grand­fa­ther, Myers Ander­son, who was as influ­en­tial in his life as his wife’s moth­er was in hers, and titled his mem­oir “My Grandfather’s Son.” But the rela­tion­ship was often frac­tious. Ander­son, who donat­ed to the Nation­al Asso­ci­a­tion for the Advance­ment of Col­ored Peo­ple, “wasn’t hap­py with his grandson’s choic­es,” Kevin Meri­da, now the exec­u­tive edi­tor of The Los Ange­les Times, and Michael A. Fletch­er wrote in a 2007 biog­ra­phy, “Supreme Dis­com­fort.” The authors quot­ed Ketan­ji Brown Jack­son, a Black for­mer clerk for Jus­tice Stephen Brey­er whom Biden is now con­sid­er­ing for the vacan­cy being cre­at­ed by Breyer’s retire­ment. She remem­bered sit­ting across from Thomas at lunch and think­ing: “ ‘I don’t under­stand you. You sound like my par­ents. You sound like peo­ple I grew up with.’ But the lessons he tend­ed to draw from the expe­ri­ences of the seg­re­gat­ed South seemed to be dif­fer­ent than those of every­body I know.”

    Clarence and Gin­ni met in 1986 at a con­fer­ence on affir­ma­tive action, which they both opposed. After a stint at the civ­il rights office of the Edu­ca­tion Depart­ment, he was run­ning the E.E.O.C.; she was an attor­ney at the U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce and mused that year to Good House­keep­ing about some­day run­ning for Con­gress. She had extract­ed her­self from a New Age‑y self-help group called Life­spring, which she would denounce as a cult, but was still attend­ing meet­ings held by a cult-depro­gram­ming orga­ni­za­tion, and she took him along to one. He would describe her as a “gift from God,” and they mar­ried in 1987 at a Methodist church in Oma­ha; it was her first mar­riage, his sec­ond. “There’s no oth­er way to polite­ly say this, but the fact she mar­ried a Black man must’ve caused an uproar in that fam­i­ly, I can’t even imag­ine,” said Scott Bange, who dat­ed Gin­ni in high school. In 1991, one of Gin­ni Thomas’s aunts told The Wash­ing­ton Post that the future jus­tice “was so nice, we for­got he was Black,” adding, “He treat­ed her so well, all of his oth­er qual­i­ties made up for his being Black.”

    ...

    Clarence Thomas has always main­tained that he had to be talked into accept­ing an appoint­ment to the Court of Appeals for the Dis­trict of Colum­bia Cir­cuit when he was nom­i­nat­ed as a fed­er­al judge in 1989. “I was mind­ing my busi­ness,” he said, recount­ing the sto­ry in his remarks at the Her­itage cel­e­bra­tion. He was cham­pi­oned by Dan­forth, by then a sen­a­tor, who said on the Sen­ate floor: “I hope that peo­ple would not attack Clarence Thomas because of some stereo­type of what they think a Black lawyer should believe.”

    Thur­good Mar­shall announced his retire­ment from the Supreme Court in 1991, and Pres­i­dent George H.W. Bush turned to Thomas. His con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings, presided over by Joe Biden, then the chair­man of the Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee, began with an attempt to deter­mine his views on Roe v. Wade. Then, after an F.B.I. report was leaked, Ani­ta Hill, a law pro­fes­sor who worked under Thomas at the Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion and the E.E.O.C., tes­ti­fied that he made numer­ous unwel­come advances, per­sist­ed in work­place con­ver­sa­tions about his “sex­u­al prowess,” described graph­ic pornog­ra­phy and said he found a pubic hair on a cola can and asked who had put it there. The future jus­tice flat­ly reject­ed the alle­ga­tions, call­ing the pub­lic inquiry “a high-tech lynch­ing for uppi­ty Blacks who in any way deign to think for them­selves, to do for them­selves, to have dif­fer­ent ideas.”

    Asked dur­ing the hear­ing whether he want­ed to with­draw, he said, “I’d rather die.” He did not watch Hill’s tes­ti­mo­ny. “I was the one that tried to watch what was going on for as long as I could,” Gin­ni Thomas said in a 2020 doc­u­men­tary on Jus­tice Thomas’s life and legal phi­los­o­phy, “Cre­at­ed Equal,” made with the Thomases’ par­tic­i­pa­tion and fund­ed by the far-right Charles Koch and Bradley Foun­da­tions. “It was all so wrong,” she con­tin­ued. “It was so untrue.” When Biden informed Thomas in a phone call that he would vote against him, he tried to reas­sure him about the process. As she lis­tened in, Gin­ni Thomas took a spoon from a kitchen draw­er and pre­tend­ed to gag her­self, her hus­band lat­er recount­ed. (Biden was also crit­i­cized for exclud­ing tes­ti­mo­ny favor­able to Hill and, much lat­er, expressed regret.) Friends and asso­ciates said that the couple’s rage over the con­fir­ma­tion bat­tle came to both define and uni­fy them.

    “He was in a state of shock,” said Arm­strong Williams, a Black con­ser­v­a­tive pun­dit and long­time friend of Jus­tice Thomas’s, who worked for him at the E.E.O.C. and served as an advis­er dur­ing the hear­ings. “Every­thing that he ever worked so hard for, every­thing that his grand­par­ents and his moth­er were proud of him for, was reduced to sex­u­al innu­en­dos. And no one knew any­thing about his career except for those innu­en­dos. The first time peo­ple were hear­ing about him were these sala­cious alle­ga­tions.” And so, Williams said, “he threw him­self into the court and becom­ing the best jus­tice he could be, and that still remains his refuge.”

    Thomas’s ear­ly years on the court were dis­tin­guished by vig­or­ous dis­sents and icon­o­clas­tic opin­ions. While some jus­tices seek a nar­row enough argu­ment to gar­ner five votes, he often staked out a lone­li­er, more oppo­si­tion­al role as a dis­senter. In a 1997 Sec­ond Amend­ment case, he opened the door for future chal­lenges to local gun laws. In a 2000 Nebras­ka abor­tion case, he assailed Roe v. Wade, which he called “griev­ous­ly wrong.”

    “He was till­ing the ground,” said Leonard Leo, a for­mer exec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety, a Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy mem­ber and a close fam­i­ly friend of the couple’s. “In oth­er words, the field’s not ready for things to blos­som or flour­ish, but he’s doing what he can to pre­pare it. And that’s what he’s been doing.”

    Leo, a Catholic like the jus­tice, first met him when he was clerk­ing on the Dis­trict of Colum­bia Cir­cuit. Thomas, then a judge on that court, became a men­tor. The jus­tice has spent time at Leo’s New Eng­land vaca­tion home, is god­fa­ther to one of his chil­dren and has sup­port­ed him through hard­ships, includ­ing the death of his 14-year-old daugh­ter from spina bifi­da. The two men often dis­cussed reli­gion — Thomas once rec­om­mend­ed he read “A His­to­ry of Chris­tian­i­ty” by Paul John­son — and Leo says Jus­tice Thomas saw par­al­lels between how the church grew and how to build a body of con­ser­v­a­tive jurispru­dence.

    “It’s very sim­i­lar to what hap­pened with the Catholic Church in the Mid­dle Ages,” he said of the justice’s approach, adding that the church and its insti­tu­tions “did their work dur­ing that time, lay­ing the foun­da­tions for future Catholic think­ing and Catholic thought to sort of grow the church and pre­serve its tra­di­tions. It hap­pened qui­et­ly; it did not hap­pen in the grand cham­bers of the Vat­i­can, but it hap­pened.”

    Thomas has described his judi­cial phi­los­o­phy as one of nat­ur­al law, in which lib­er­ty and equal­i­ty are endowed by God. In the Thomas view, slav­ery and Jim Crow seg­re­ga­tion were betray­als of the ideals enshrined in the nation’s found­ing doc­u­ments — and so are pro­gres­sive pro­grams like affir­ma­tive action: He is equal­ly opposed to gov­ern­ment impos­ing obsta­cles or pro­vid­ing spe­cial pro­tec­tions. “Whether deemed infe­ri­or by the crud­est big­ots or con­sid­ered a vic­tim by the most edu­cat­ed elites, being dis­missed as any­thing oth­er than inher­ent­ly equal is still, at bot­tom, a reduc­tion of our human worth,” he said in a recent speech. In an essay called “Clarence X?” Stephen F. Smith, a Notre Dame pro­fes­sor and for­mer Thomas clerk who is also Black, argues that his for­mer boss “fre­quent­ly (if not invari­ably) seeks to demon­strate that his con­ser­v­a­tive posi­tions on mat­ters of race are ben­e­fi­cial for Black Amer­i­cans, as well as legal­ly required.”

    But those posi­tions are often out of step with a major­i­ty of Black Amer­i­cans, and in his auto­bi­og­ra­phy, Thomas laments being “brand­ed a trai­tor to my race” for “dar­ing to reject the ide­o­log­i­cal ortho­doxy that was pre­scribed for blacks by lib­er­al whites.” Such rejec­tion of ortho­doxy was evi­dent in a 1995 con­cur­ring opin­ion on deseg­re­ga­tion, when he ques­tioned why major­i­ty-Black schools were nec­es­sar­i­ly a prob­lem: “It nev­er ceas­es to amaze me that the courts are so will­ing to assume that any­thing that is pre­dom­i­nant­ly black must be infe­ri­or,” he wrote.

    Dur­ing these years, the cou­ple were embraced on the right; they even host­ed Rush Limbaugh’s third wed­ding at their Vir­ginia home in 1994, with Jus­tice Thomas offi­ci­at­ing. Gin­ni Thomas was labor­ing in estab­lish­ment Repub­li­can cir­cles, but an ide­o­log­i­cal feroc­i­ty akin to her mother’s sim­mered. “I’ve been on a mis­sion for a long time,” she told U.S. News & World Report in 1995. “I wouldn’t be in this town if I wasn’t on a mis­sion.” By the time the Tea Par­ty move­ment arose in oppo­si­tion to the Oba­ma pres­i­den­cy, her sense of mis­sion was redou­bled. “Over the last 30 years, I have worked and strug­gled inside this Belt­way, wait­ing for you peo­ple to show up,” she told Tea Par­ty activists in a 2010 speech at the Con­ser­v­a­tive Polit­i­cal Action Con­fer­ence. “I adore all of the new cit­i­zen patri­ots who are ris­ing up across this coun­try, and I am hap­py to help show you the ropes in the Wash­ing­ton area, ’cause we need help.”

    New­ly embold­ened, that same year Gin­ni Thomas called Ani­ta Hill, leav­ing a voice mail mes­sage on a Sat­ur­day morn­ing. “I just want­ed to reach across the air­waves and the years and ask you to con­sid­er some­thing. I would love you to con­sid­er an apol­o­gy some­time and some full expla­na­tion of why you did what you did with my hus­band,” she said. “So give it some thought. And cer­tain­ly pray about this and hope that one day you will help us under­stand why you did what you did. OK, have a good day.” (Gin­ni Thomas char­ac­ter­ized the call by say­ing she was “extend­ing an olive branch.”)

    When asked if Jus­tice Thomas agreed with mak­ing the call, Arm­strong Williams was quick to answer. “Of course not! But he had to deal with it,” he said. “It’s his wife, it’s his best friend, his most trust­ed con­fi­dante, and he loves her uncon­di­tion­al­ly. He doesn’t agree with every­thing, but they work it out pri­vate­ly.”

    Hill was tak­en aback and made the call pub­lic: “She can’t ask for an apol­o­gy with­out sug­gest­ing that I did some­thing wrong, and that is offen­sive.” Hill had not been the only woman to lev­el accu­sa­tions against Clarence Thomas: At the time of his con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing, anoth­er for­mer E.E.O.C. employ­ee, Angela Wright, who was fired by him, detailed inap­pro­pri­ate sex­u­al com­ments she said he made, includ­ing remark­ing on her bra size. A third for­mer agency employ­ee said, “If you were young, Black, female and rea­son­ably attrac­tive, you knew full well you were being inspect­ed and audi­tioned as a female.” Nei­ther was called to tes­ti­fy.

    In 2010, short­ly after news broke of Gin­ni Thomas’s call to Hill, Lil­lian McEwen, a for­mer assis­tant U.S. attor­ney who dat­ed Clarence Thomas for sev­er­al years after his sep­a­ra­tion from his first wife, spoke out: “He was always active­ly watch­ing the women he worked with to see if they could be poten­tial part­ners,” she told The Wash­ing­ton Post in sup­port of Hill’s account. “I have no hos­til­i­ty toward him,” she said. “It is just that he has man­u­fac­tured a dif­fer­ent real­i­ty over time.” In 2016, Moira Smith, the gen­er­al coun­sel at an Alas­ka nat­ur­al-gas com­pa­ny, said she was groped in 1999 by Jus­tice Thomas while she was a 23-year-old Tru­man Foun­da­tion schol­ar, eight years after he joined the court.

    The Thomases have reject­ed all such alle­ga­tions. “I think, and I’ve said this only a few times pub­licly, one of the best things that could have hap­pened to me was to have gone through the kind of con­fir­ma­tion I went through,” he told the con­ser­v­a­tive activists at the Eagle Forum in 1996. “I am the freest per­son on the court. I have no illu­sions, no desires for acco­lades, no desires for praise. I’m there to do a job. I will do it, and I will go home.”

    A few weeks after Mitt Rom­ney lost the 2012 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, Gin­ni Thomas called Steve Ban­non, then the chair­man of Bre­it­bart, and they had lunch at the Wash­ing­ton town­house that was both Bannon’s res­i­dence and Breitbart’s head­quar­ters. Romney’s loss pre­saged a bat­tle for the Repub­li­can Party’s direc­tion, and Thomas want­ed to start a hard-right round table to serve as an alter­na­tive to an estab­lish­ment meet­ing run on Wednes­days by Grover Norquist, the anti-tax cru­sad­er. “She had the idea, ‘I think we need some­thing to counter Grover’s Wednes­day meet­ing,’” recalled Ban­non, who didn’t know her well at the time. “And I said, ‘That’s a bril­liant idea.’”

    The pre­vi­ous year, Thomas’s activism drew scruti­ny of her and her hus­band, when Com­mon Cause, an advo­ca­cy group, reviewed I.R.S. fil­ings and crit­i­cized Jus­tice Thomas for fail­ing to dis­close his wife’s income — near­ly $700,000 over five years from the Her­itage Foun­da­tion — as required by fed­er­al law. He sub­se­quent­ly amend­ed 20 years of fil­ings. After her stint at Her­itage, Gin­ni Thomas ran a Wash­ing­ton-based con­sti­tu­tion­al stud­ies cen­ter for Michigan’s Hills­dale Col­lege, a con­ser­v­a­tive bas­tion that her hus­band has called “a shin­ing city on a hill.” She also briefly ran her own advo­ca­cy group called Lib­er­ty Cen­tral, which cam­paigned against a planned Islam­ic com­mu­ni­ty cen­ter and mosque in Low­er Man­hat­tan near ground zero; that group was fund­ed in large mea­sure by Har­lan Crow, a friend of the Thomases’ and board mem­ber of the Amer­i­can Enter­prise Insti­tute, a con­ser­v­a­tive think tank whose work Jus­tice Thomas has cit­ed. Crow, a major Repub­li­can donor, gave $500,000 to Lib­er­ty Cen­tral. (Gin­ni Thomas’s 2010 pay of $120,511 was near­ly 13 per­cent of the organization’s rev­enue that year, tax records show.) In the wake of the finan­cial dis­clo­sures, more than 70 House Democ­rats asked the jus­tice to recuse him­self from delib­er­a­tions about Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s Afford­able Care Act, which Gin­ni Thomas lob­bied against. He declined.

    Now her new group, Groundswell, took shape, cou­pling a the­atri­cal cloak-and-dag­ger sen­si­bil­i­ty with an inabil­i­ty to keep secrets. Ear­ly par­tic­i­pants drew from a num­ber of hard-line inter­est groups, includ­ing Frank Gaffney of the Cen­ter for Secu­ri­ty Pol­i­cy, Tom Fit­ton of Judi­cial Watch and Ken Black­well of the Fam­i­ly Research Coun­cil, as well as Leonard Leo and Allen West, an out­spo­ken for­mer Flori­da con­gress­man, and a num­ber of right-wing jour­nal­ists, includ­ing Mark Tap­scott, then the exec­u­tive edi­tor of The Wash­ing­ton Exam­in­er. A trove of inter­nal emails was prompt­ly leaked to Moth­er Jones mag­a­zine, high­light­ing the group’s use of tac­ti­cal terms like “OpSec” (“oper­a­tions secu­ri­ty”) and its hatred of estab­lish­ment Repub­li­can fig­ures, in par­tic­u­lar Karl Rove, whom they reviled as a mod­er­at­ing influ­ence on the par­ty.

    Gin­ni Thomas over­saw the group’s plan for its “30-front war” as Groundswell became a plat­form for far-right lead­ers, donors and media fig­ures — the peo­ple Ban­non called the “hon­ey bad­gers” of the move­ment — to exchange and ampli­fy hard-line posi­tions on immi­gra­tion, abor­tion and gun con­trol. It was, as Ban­non put it, “all the stuff that became the foun­da­tion­al stuff of the Trump move­ment.”

    Vot­ing was an ear­ly focus. Among the ear­ly Groundswell par­tic­i­pants was Rus­sell J. Ram­s­land Jr., an influ­en­tial Texas-based backer of evi­dence-free vot­ing-fraud claims who would make a failed con­gres­sion­al run. So was James O’Keefe, the founder of Project Ver­i­tas, a right-wing group that has used decep­tion and hid­den cam­eras to try to but­tress claims of vot­er fraud. Anoth­er par­tic­i­pant was Cather­ine Engle­brecht, a Texas activist who in 2009 found­ed True the Vote, a group that says it is bat­tling “groups who sub­vert our elec­tions to serve their own pur­pos­es” and has pushed for vot­ing restric­tions.

    The activists were par­tic­u­lar­ly inflamed after Oba­ma signed an exec­u­tive order on March 28, 2013, that cre­at­ed a com­mis­sion to study elec­tions. “OBAMA TAKES TOTAL CONTROL OF ELECTIONS,” one Groundswell mem­ber wrote in an email to the group. Engle­brecht warned in response that the com­mis­sion, which had no author­i­ty beyond writ­ing a report and mak­ing rec­om­men­da­tions, “has the capac­i­ty to wipe out fair elec­tions.”

    Bongi­no, anoth­er Groundswell mem­ber, wrote: “We need to reframe this. The nar­ra­tive of the Left has already tak­en hold.” He added, “The words ‘Vot­er ID’ are already lost & equat­ed with racism.” Thomas weighed in, list­ing key House staff mem­bers work­ing on elec­tions mat­ters, and asked, “Who else are key work­ing group mem­bers on ELECTION LAW, ELECTION REFORM and THE LEFT’S NARRATIVES, Groundswell???”

    Three months after the email exchange, Jus­tice Thomas pro­vid­ed a crit­i­cal vote in the court’s 5‑to‑4 Shel­by Coun­ty v. Hold­er deci­sion, which effec­tive­ly stripped the Vot­ing Rights Act of lan­guage that pro­tect­ed vot­ers in places that had his­tor­i­cal­ly dis­en­fran­chised them on the basis of race. The act had required states and coun­ties with a his­to­ry of dis­crim­i­na­to­ry prac­tices, most­ly in the South, to get fed­er­al pre­clear­ance of such mea­sures. The case was led in part by one of Thomas’s own for­mer clerks, William Consovoy, whose argu­ments echoed the justice’s views. In fact, Thomas had advanced the argu­ment for Shel­by four years ear­li­er, when he raised con­cerns about the con­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty of pre­clear­ance in a case from Texas, argu­ing that there was no longer “a sys­tem­at­ic cam­paign to deny black cit­i­zens access to the bal­lot through intim­i­da­tion and vio­lence.” Four years lat­er, in his con­cur­ring opin­ion in Shel­by, he wrote, “Our Nation has changed.”

    The rul­ing was cheered on the right, with The Wall Street Journal’s edi­to­r­i­al board call­ing it “a tri­umph of racial progress.” Civ­il rights groups were dis­mayed. “The Shel­by deci­sion is one of the biggest affronts to our democ­ra­cy in mod­ern his­to­ry,” said Janai Nel­son, asso­ciate direc­tor of the NAACP Legal Defense and Edu­ca­tion­al Fund, argu­ing that it “unleashed a wave of vot­er sup­pres­sion that is like what we wit­nessed in the Jim Crow era.” The deci­sion freed states to enact restric­tive laws, she added, that were “often based on myth­i­cal jus­ti­fi­ca­tions” of sup­posed vot­er fraud and “by no coin­ci­dence dis­en­fran­chise minor­i­ty vot­ers at alarm­ing­ly dis­pro­por­tion­ate rates.”

    That same year, Gin­ni Thomas turned her atten­tion to inter­nal bat­tles on the right. In 2013, the Repub­li­can Nation­al Com­mit­tee came out with a report after Romney’s loss that was known as the “autop­sy” of the party’s fail­ures. But its pre­scrip­tions — to broad­en the base and appeal to minori­ties and gay peo­ple — were round­ly reject­ed by Gin­ni Thomas and Ban­non. “It’s a joke, and it has noth­ing to do with what hap­pened,” Ban­non said in an inter­view, recall­ing how he react­ed to the report. “We have to have some­thing to counter it.”

    Groundswell, in a mes­sage cir­cu­lat­ed among its mem­bers after the autop­sy, said that “Priebus is send­ing mes­sages to the par­ty,” refer­ring to Reince Priebus, the R.N.C. chair­man at the time. It con­tin­ued: “If we were all gay ille­gal aliens, the par­ty likes us. He is prepar­ing the way for a change on social issues by giv­ing a warn­ing, ‘don’t go Old Tes­ta­ment.’

    The Thomases faced oth­er head­winds. In addi­tion to Groundswell, Gin­ni Thomas had start­ed her own small firm, Lib­er­ty Con­sult­ing, but was often rel­e­gat­ed to sym­bol­ic ges­tures, as when she wrote to the I.R.S. in 2014 protest­ing that the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion was “attempt­ing to force the dis­clo­sure of donors to con­ser­v­a­tive orga­ni­za­tions,” amid crit­i­cism from the right that the agency was sin­gling out con­ser­v­a­tive groups for scruti­ny. Jus­tice Thomas, mean­while, wrote vig­or­ous dis­sents from what seemed to be a nar­row­ing con­ser­v­a­tive posi­tion; in 2015, he was the only jus­tice to back Aber­crom­bie & Fitch’s dress code, which pre­vent­ed the hir­ing of a woman who wore a head scarf. (He said the store was not inten­tion­al­ly dis­crim­i­nat­ing but sim­ply refus­ing “to cre­ate an excep­tion.”)

    For their 28th wed­ding anniver­sary in May 2015, Jus­tice Thomas bought his wife a charm bracelet. It had knots and ropes and a pix­ie, because, as she lat­er recount­ed, he thinks of her as a pix­ieish trou­ble­mak­er. But there was anoth­er charm too. “I said: ‘Wait, there’s a wind­mill here. What’s that mean?’” She was, after all, a for­mer attor­ney for the U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce, a bas­tion of Big Oil, and has fumed aloud that kids are being turned into “robots for cli­mate change.” But her hus­band had an expla­na­tion, she said: “He goes, ‘We both tilt at wind­mills.’”

    The death of Antonin Scalia in Feb­ru­ary 2016 left a void on the court and for Jus­tice Thomas. He deliv­ered an emo­tion­al eulo­gy for his friend, a long­time ide­o­log­i­cal ally, even if Scalia had once referred to his own brand of orig­i­nal­ism as “faint­heart­ed.” “For this, I feel quite inad­e­quate to the task,” Thomas said, adding that the two had “many buck-each-oth­er-up vis­its, too many to count.” He recount­ed glee­ful­ly chid­ing Scalia for exco­ri­at­ing an opin­ion he came across: “Nino, you wrote it.” For years, Thomas was over­shad­owed by his more vol­u­ble col­league, but a recon­sid­er­a­tion fol­lowed. “For the first year or two, Jus­tice Thomas was seen as Jus­tice Scalia’s lap dog by some, which was wild­ly den­i­grat­ing,” said John Mal­colm, vice pres­i­dent of the Her­itage Foundation’s Insti­tute for Con­sti­tu­tion­al Gov­ern­ment. “Now, in books and notes that have been released, it seems that Jus­tice Scalia was just as influ­enced by Jus­tice Thomas as Jus­tice Thomas was by Jus­tice Scalia.”

    Thomas has warm rela­tion­ships with many of his court col­leagues; he called Ruth Bad­er Gins­burg “sim­ply a joy to work with” and was often seen help­ing her nav­i­gate the courtroom’s steps. But after Scalia’s death, it seemed as if he might become even more ide­o­log­i­cal­ly iso­lat­ed. Mitch McConnell made it clear that Scalia’s suc­ces­sor would be left to the next pres­i­dent, even though near­ly a year remained in the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion. But with Hillary Clin­ton lead­ing in the polls, it seemed that the court could soon see its “first lib­er­al major­i­ty in near­ly 50 years,” USA Today wrote in Octo­ber 2016.

    Gin­ni Thomas attend­ed the Repub­li­can Nation­al Con­ven­tion as a Vir­ginia del­e­gate, this time on behalf of Sen­a­tor Ted Cruz. There, she backed a con­ven­tion-floor effort to over­turn the will of Repub­li­can pri­ma­ry vot­ers by award­ing Trump’s del­e­gates to Cruz. After the plot failed, Thomas expressed her dis­ap­proval of the party’s nom­i­nee in Face­book posts lat­er com­piled by Trump aides. “Don­ald Trump will have to WIN my vote, along with many oth­ers in the Cruz move­ment,” she wrote. “We were dev­as­tat­ed at how he treat­ed Ted” (Trump had lobbed insults and insin­u­a­tions at Cruz’s wife and father), adding that it “does not bode well for a Pres­i­dent wor­thy to lead this nation.”

    But like many oth­ers on the right who opposed Trump’s can­di­da­cy, she would become a believ­er. Thomas and her col­leagues at the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy had for years pushed for the appoint­ment of “con­sti­tu­tion­al­ist” judges in her husband’s image, with some even advo­cat­ing the impeach­ment of judges who did not meet that def­i­n­i­tion. Few things were more impor­tant to the con­ser­v­a­tive base than reshap­ing the close­ly divid­ed Supreme Court, and Trump did not dis­ap­point. First he replaced Scalia with anoth­er con­ser­v­a­tive, Neil Gor­such. Then, in July 2018, Trump nom­i­nat­ed Brett Kavanaugh, a judge on the Court of Appeals for the Dis­trict of Colum­bia Cir­cuit, to suc­ceed Jus­tice Antho­ny M. Kennedy, the court’s swing vote, who was retir­ing. The court’s bal­ance of pow­er was poised to shift. It was the moment both Thomases had await­ed.

    The Kavanaugh nom­i­na­tion, how­ev­er, was soon imper­iled amid unex­pect­ed sex­u­al assault and harass­ment alle­ga­tions rem­i­nis­cent of Thomas’s own con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings. With the nom­i­na­tion in the bal­ance, Gin­ni Thomas addressed the Coun­cil for Nation­al Policy’s mem­ber­ship, men­tion­ing her hus­band no less than four times. Before intro­duc­ing an off-the-record ses­sion at a coun­cil con­fer­ence in Octo­ber 2018, Jer­ry John­son, a mem­ber of the exec­u­tive com­mit­tee, remind­ed atten­dees to turn their cell­phones off and “do not record.” (A video of the event lat­er sur­faced.)

    Gin­ni Thomas invoked the shoot­ing of Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Steve Scalise at a char­i­ty base­ball prac­tice and the Kavanaugh nom­i­na­tion fight to make a larg­er claim that con­ser­v­a­tives were under attack. “May we all have guns and con­cealed car­ry to han­dle what’s com­ing,” she said. “And what they’ve done to Brett Kavanaugh,” she con­tin­ued, “I’m feel­ing the pain, Clarence is feel­ing the pain of going through false charges against a good man, and what they’re doing is unbe­liev­able. I thought it couldn’t get worse than Clarence’s, but it did.”

    Her anger build­ing, she told the audi­ence that there were signs all around them of exis­ten­tial threats. “You see rain­bow flags through­out busi­ness­es, send­ing pow­er­ful, sub­tle mes­sages to all the cus­tomers that ‘We’re the kind, decent, com­pas­sion­ate, tol­er­ant peo­ple, until the Repub­li­can evil con­ser­v­a­tives show up, and those are all auto­mat­i­cal­ly hate­ful peo­ple,’” she said. “I see things in my vet­eri­nar­i­an: ‘Spread Kind­ness,’ ‘Build Com­mu­ni­ty,’ ‘Hate Is Not Wel­come Here,’” she con­tin­ued. “Look how defen­sive we are, because they have these cul­tur­al foun­da­tions.” Return­ing to the bat­tle at hand, the Kavanaugh fight, she said, “Even if he gets in — I believe he’ll get in, I’m hop­ing he gets in, but they’re not going to leave him alone.” It was clear it was per­son­al: “They’re try­ing to impeach him. They’re com­ing for my hus­band. They’re com­ing for Pres­i­dent Trump!”

    The invi­ta­tion went out in the weeks fol­low­ing Kavanaugh’s con­fir­ma­tion. Would Jus­tice Thomas care to join the pres­i­dent for what one for­mer Trump aide described as a “work­ing lunch”? Kavanaugh’s ele­va­tion had cre­at­ed an open­ing on the Court of Appeals for the Dis­trict of Colum­bia Cir­cuit, con­sid­ered a prime step­ping­stone to the Supreme Court. The top con­tender for the post, Neo­mi Rao, then serv­ing as the admin­is­tra­tor of the White House Office of Infor­ma­tion and Reg­u­la­to­ry Affairs, had been a Thomas clerk.

    Trump had long been intrigued by Jus­tice Thomas. Dur­ing the tran­si­tion, in a meet­ing to dis­cuss the court with Leonard Leo, he expressed an inter­est in learn­ing more about the jus­tice. “At one point dur­ing the con­ver­sa­tion, he said to me, ‘You know, when I was out on the cam­paign trail, you know, when I men­tioned Clarence Thomas, his name, some­times the guy would get more applause than I did,’” Leo recalled. “ ‘What was that all about?’ And I said, ‘Well, you know, he’s a hero to a lot of peo­ple.’”

    A court­ing of Thomas fol­lowed, prompt­ed as well by rumors that he might retire. His ros­ter of for­mer clerks became a go-to list for Trump judi­cial picks. (“You did appoint a lot of my kids,” the jus­tice would lat­er thank McGahn, Trump’s first White House coun­sel, in his Her­itage speech.) Ear­ly on, there was also a pho­to-op with Thomas and his clerks, who went to the White House. And lat­er, there was an invi­ta­tion for the jus­tice, along with his wife, to join the pres­i­dent and first lady for din­ner.

    The lunch fol­low­ing the Kavanaugh bat­tle, how­ev­er, was sup­posed to be a pri­vate affair between the jus­tice and the pres­i­dent. But when Thomas arrived, Trump aides said, they were sur­prised to see that he had brought an unin­vit­ed guest — his wife. Trump world was learn­ing, as oth­ers have, that the two are a pack­age deal.

    The accounts of the Thomases’ meet­ings and con­ver­sa­tions with the White House are based on inter­views with nine for­mer Trump aides and advis­ers, most of whom request­ed anonymi­ty in order to speak frankly about how the courtship of Thomas cre­at­ed an open­ing for his wife. (One said he didn’t want “the Gin­ni prayer war­riors com­ing after me.”) Sev­er­al said they were nev­er clear as to whether she was there as an activist or a paid con­sul­tant. They recount­ed how she aggres­sive­ly pushed far-right can­di­dates for var­i­ous admin­is­tra­tion jobs and posi­tioned her­self as a voice of Trump’s grass-roots base. “Here’s what the peeps think,” she would say, accord­ing to one of the aides. “We have to lis­ten to the peeps.”

    Short­ly after the lunch meet­ing with her hus­band, she got a meet­ing of her own with the pres­i­dent, at her request, arriv­ing in the Roo­sevelt Room on Jan. 25, 2019, with a del­e­ga­tion that includ­ed mem­bers of Groundswell in tow. “It was the cra­zi­est meet­ing I’ve ever been to,” said a Trump aide who attend­ed. “She start­ed by lead­ing the prayer.” When oth­ers began speak­ing, the aide remem­bers talk of “the trans­sex­u­al agen­da” and par­ents “chop­ping off their children’s breasts.” He said the pres­i­dent “tried to rein it in — it was hard to hear though,” because through­out the meet­ing atten­dees were audi­bly pray­ing.

    It was an event with no prece­dent, and some of the details of what tran­spired soon leaked: the wife of a sit­ting Supreme Court jus­tice lob­by­ing a pres­i­dent when sev­er­al cas­es involv­ing trans­gen­der rights were mak­ing their way through the fed­er­al courts. (The fol­low­ing year, Jus­tice Thomas would join a dis­sent that assert­ed that the Civ­il Rights Act did not cov­er peo­ple on the basis of sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion or gen­der iden­ti­ty.) The meet­ing grew chaot­ic. Gin­ni Thomas and oth­er atten­dees com­plained to the pres­i­dent that their favored hard-line job can­di­dates were being blocked and that his own per­son­nel office should be purged, depict­ing some of his aides as clos­et lib­er­als and Nev­er Trumpers.

    Before the meet­ing, Trump’s aides assem­bled the research doc­u­ment out­lin­ing con­cerns with Gin­ni Thomas and some of her pre­ferred job can­di­dates, the con­tents of which they shared with the pres­i­dent.

    The doc­u­ment, obtained by The Times, detailed how Crys­tal Clan­ton, a friend of Gin­ni Thomas’s whose name had been advanced, had been forced out from Turn­ing Point USA, a con­ser­v­a­tive stu­dent group on whose advi­so­ry board Gin­ni Thomas once served, after The New York­er report­ed that she wrote in a text: “I HATE BLACK PEOPLE. Like [exple­tive] them all. … I hate blacks. End of sto­ry.” (Gin­ni Thomas sub­se­quent­ly hired Clan­ton, and Jus­tice Thomas, who has called the alle­ga­tions against Clan­ton unfound­ed, helped her get a fed­er­al clerk­ship and wrote in a let­ter of sup­port that he would con­sid­er her for a Supreme Court clerk­ship.) Oth­er names advanced by Gin­ni Thomas includ­ed Bongi­no, whom she rec­om­mend­ed for a coun­tert­er­ror­ism posi­tion, and David A. Clarke, a Black for­mer Mil­wau­kee Coun­ty sher­iff whose over­sight of a local jail was the sub­ject of mul­ti­ple inves­ti­ga­tions and law­suits, whom she sup­port­ed for a top post at the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty.

    The report remind­ed the pres­i­dent that Gin­ni Thomas had once called him “a non­con­ser­v­a­tive can­di­date” whose pop­ulism was “unteth­ered and dan­ger­ous” and whose tac­tics did “not bode well for a Pres­i­dent wor­thy to lead this nation.” It even includ­ed a pho­to of her at the 2016 Repub­li­can Nation­al Con­ven­tion, where she sup­port­ed the effort to strip Trump of his del­e­gates, hold­ing her del­e­gate badge, which was dec­o­rat­ed with a yel­low rib­bon embla­zoned with the words “trou­ble mak­er.”

    “In the White House, she was out of bounds many times,” one of Trump’s senior aides said. “It was always: ‘We need more MAGA peo­ple in gov­ern­ment. We’re try­ing to get these résumés through, and we’re being blocked.’ I appre­ci­at­ed her ener­gy, but a lot of these peo­ple couldn’t pass back­ground checks.” Many of the peo­ple she pushed, anoth­er for­mer Trump aide said, “had legit­i­mate back­ground issues, secu­ri­ty-clear­ance issues or had done a lot of busi­ness over­seas.”

    The pres­i­dent con­tin­ued to allow Gin­ni Thomas access, telling aides that if she were in the White House vis­it­ing with oth­er offi­cials, she was wel­come to drop by to see him. And she did on sev­er­al occa­sions, while also pass­ing notes on her pri­or­i­ties through inter­me­di­aries, mul­ti­ple aides said. With her hus­band, she also attend­ed a state din­ner for the Aus­tralian prime min­is­ter, and she went to the White House when her hus­band admin­is­tered the Con­sti­tu­tion­al Oath to Amy Coney Bar­rett, Trump’s third appoint­ment to the Supreme Court, as guests includ­ing Lau­ra Ingra­ham, the Fox News host and for­mer Thomas clerk, cel­e­brat­ed.

    With her place in the pres­i­den­tial orbit secure, Thomas became even more out­spo­ken. In posts on Face­book, she shared a George Soros con­spir­a­cy-the­o­ry meme and crit­i­cized the teenage sur­vivors of the school mas­sacre in Park­land, Fla., for sup­port­ing gun con­trol. She com­plained when a town near her Vir­ginia home put up a ban­ner in sup­port of Black Lives Mat­ter, say­ing the group was filled with extrem­ists “seek­ing to foment a cul­tur­al rev­o­lu­tion,” and trad­ed barbs on her pub­lic Face­book page. “Hey, are you aware you mar­ried a black man?” one com­menter wrote, to which she replied: “news tip, whitey, all blacks don’t think alike!”

    By 2019, her influ­ence in Repub­li­can cir­cles was grow­ing. She took on a lead­er­ship role at the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy, join­ing the board of C.N.P. Action, which had become a key cog in the Trump mes­sag­ing machine. (The coun­cil declined to com­ment.) The board holds break­out ses­sions on “press­ing issues,” then pub­lish­es “action steps” for mem­bers. That year, she and her friend Cle­ta Mitchell, a coun­cil mem­ber and Repub­li­can elec­tions lawyer, con­duct­ed a joint ses­sion at which Mitchell dis­cussed har­ness­ing char­i­ta­ble dol­lars for polit­i­cal pur­pos­es and Thomas spoke on the cul­ture war. Thomas told her lis­ten­ers that soci­etal forces were arrayed against them, while flash­ing a slide depict­ing the left as black snakes coiled around cul­tur­al insti­tu­tions. “Our house is on fire,” she declared, “and we are stomp­ing ants in the dri­ve­way.”

    Dur­ing Trump’s pres­i­den­cy, doc­u­ments obtained by The Times show, the coun­cil and its affil­i­ates rou­tine­ly took on issues that were like­ly to go before the Supreme Court. Gin­ni Thomas per­son­al­ly co-mod­er­at­ed a pan­el called “The Pro-Life Move­ment on Offense” that laid out strate­gies to ener­gize “low turnout pro-life vot­ers” and “per­suad­able Democ­rats and His­pan­ics” by talk­ing to them “about late-term abor­tion, tax­pay­er fund­ing of abor­tion, and the Supreme Court,” one of the slides in the pre­sen­ta­tion read. Amid the pan­dem­ic and legal chal­lenges to lock­down restric­tions, the orga­ni­za­tion urged mem­bers to “pray for our church­es to rise up.” The scope of poten­tial con­flicts has lit­tle prece­dent beyond nar­row­er episodes on low­er fed­er­al courts, as when the wife of Judge Stephen Rein­hardt was an A.C.L.U. exec­u­tive but he did not always recuse him­self from cas­es in which the A.C.L.U. had an inter­est. But unlike the Supreme Court, lit­i­gants there had the right to appeal.

    As the 2020 elec­tion neared, C.N.P. Action meet­ings and doc­u­ments tar­get­ed Demo­c­ra­t­ic strate­gies that make it eas­i­er to vote, includ­ing the prac­tice of civic groups’ gath­er­ing bal­lot appli­ca­tions, derid­ed by many on the right as “bal­lot har­vest­ing.” Months lat­er, the Supreme Court upheld an Ari­zona ban on the prac­tice, with Thomas in the 6‑to‑3 major­i­ty. C.N.P. Action also pressed for manda­to­ry vot­er-iden­ti­fi­ca­tion laws and even float­ed the idea of using for­mer Navy SEALs to mon­i­tor polls.

    Thomas was also busy with dis­plays of devo­tion: She boast­ed in an online biog­ra­phy that she “set agen­das with Pres­i­dent Trump’s White House for quar­ter­ly con­ser­v­a­tive leader brief­in­gs” and start­ed a group of Trump sup­port­ers called the North­ern Vir­ginia Deplorables. But it was after Trump’s Novem­ber loss that she would prove her loy­al­ty beyond doubt, when she and her group urged on efforts to over­turn the elec­tion.

    In the weeks after Trump’s loss, court chal­lenges began to pile up from his team, his allies and even Repub­li­can law­mak­ers. They echoed the call put out by C.N.P. Action to chal­lenge swing-state out­comes, with one Repub­li­can con­gress­man, Mike Kel­ly of Penn­syl­va­nia, fil­ing a law­suit against his own state to try to stop the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of its votes. On Dec. 8, the Supreme Court refused a request to hear that case before the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion date in a one-sen­tence state­ment. It remains unknown whether the jus­tices were unan­i­mous in their deci­sion.

    By then, the net­work around the Thomases was light­ing up. On Dec. 10, a for­mer Thomas clerk and close friend of the couple’s, John C. East­man, went on “War Room,” a pod­cast and radio show host­ed by Ban­non. East­man argued that the coun­try was already at the point of a con­sti­tu­tion­al cri­sis — and he urged the Supreme Court to inter­vene. Ban­non eager­ly agreed. Behind the scenes, East­man was advis­ing Trump and his cam­paign on a new pro­pos­al to change the out­come of the elec­tion: Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, he assert­ed, could refuse to accept swing-state votes and send them back to the state leg­is­la­tures when he presided over the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of the elec­tion in a joint ses­sion of Con­gress on Jan. 6.

    As the Trump court chal­lenges to the elec­tion mul­ti­plied, C.N.P. Action took up the charge once more, train­ing its sights on the Jan. 6 cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. In Decem­ber, it cir­cu­lat­ed a newslet­ter that includ­ed a report titled “Five States and the Elec­tion Irreg­u­lar­i­ties and Issues,” tar­get­ing five swing states where Trump and his allies were already press­ing lit­i­ga­tion. But time was run­ning out for the courts to “declare the elec­tions null and void,” the report warned. The newslet­ter advised: “There is his­tor­i­cal, legal prece­dent for Con­gress to count a slate of elec­tors dif­fer­ent from that cer­ti­fied by the Gov­er­nor of the state.” One co-author of the “Five States” report was Cle­ta Mitchell, who by that time was among the lawyers advis­ing Trump.

    Soon a num­ber of long­time friends and asso­ciates of the Thomases were involved in efforts to over­turn the elec­tion results, or help­ing plan the Jan. 6 ral­lies. Besides East­man and Ban­non, there was Mitchell, who took part in Trump’s Jan. 2 call in which he exhort­ed Georgia’s sec­re­tary of state to “find” the votes he need­ed to claim a vic­to­ry. Turn­ing Point USA, on whose advi­so­ry board Gin­ni Thomas had served, was a spon­sor of the Jan. 6 event and pro­vid­ed bus­es for atten­dees. (An ear­ly rumor sug­gest­ing that she paid for the bus­es was debunked.)

    Oth­er spon­sors includ­ed two more groups with which Gin­ni Thomas had long ties. One was the Tea Par­ty Patri­ots, head­ed by Jen­ny Beth Mar­tin, a fel­low Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy activist. The oth­er was Women for Amer­i­ca First, which held the per­mit for the ral­ly at the Ellipse and was run by Amy Kre­mer. The two women, and Gin­ni Thomas, had all been ear­ly Tea Par­ty activists, though Kre­mer and Mar­tin had been engaged for years in a bit­ter legal dis­pute. “That’s why it was inter­est­ing when I learned that they’d been work­ing togeth­er on the Jan­u­ary 6 coor­di­na­tion,” Dustin Stock­ton said, adding that he had been told by anoth­er orga­niz­er, Car­o­line Wren, on Jan. 5 that it was Gin­ni Thomas who worked to bring uni­ty ahead of the ral­ly. (Asked about Thomas’s medi­at­ing role, Kremer’s daugh­ter Kylie Jane Kre­mer, the exec­u­tive direc­tor of Women for Amer­i­ca First, did not answer that ques­tion, instead paint­ing Stock­ton as some­one who makes “inac­cu­rate and atten­tion-seek­ing state­ments.” Mar­tin sim­i­lar­ly avoid­ed the ques­tion, issu­ing a state­ment that con­demned the vio­lence at the Capi­tol. Wren dis­put­ed Stockton’s account but declined to elab­o­rate.)

    The spec­ta­cle of a Supreme Court justice’s spouse tak­ing to Face­book to cham­pi­on the attempt of a defeat­ed pres­i­dent to stay in pow­er, as Gin­ni Thomas did on the morn­ing of Jan. 6, crossed a line for sev­er­al peo­ple in the Thomases’ cir­cle who talked to The Times. “That’s what she does — it has noth­ing to do with him,” said Arm­strong Williams, Jus­tice Thomas’s long­time friend. “Should she use bet­ter judg­ment? Yes. You can quote me on that.”

    Gin­ni Thomas post­ed a dis­claimer after the protests devolved into an insur­rec­tion — “[Note: writ­ten before vio­lence in US Capi­tol]” — but she had also lament­ed Trump’s loss in a mes­sage to “Thomas Clerk World,” a pri­vate email group used by Gin­ni Thomas and for­mer clerks and their spous­es that is typ­i­cal­ly reserved for more ano­dyne pleas­antries. Her use of the forum prompt­ed a bit­ter debate among the for­mer clerks that soon leaked. It start­ed on Jan. 17, when Smith, the Notre Dame pro­fes­sor, shared an arti­cle from Chris­tian­i­ty Today denounc­ing the Jan. 6 vio­lence. Among those who weighed in was East­man, who was a speak­er at the ral­ly. “Rest assured that those of us involved in this are work­ing dili­gent­ly to ascer­tain the truth,” he wrote.

    East­man then used the Thomas email group to invite “those of you inter­est­ed in more infor­ma­tion” to get in touch, prompt­ing Smith to reply that he hoped every­one agreed “that the search for truth doesn’t in any way jus­ti­fy insur­rec­tion, try­ing to kid­nap and assas­si­nate elect­ed offi­cials, attack­ing police offi­cers, or mak­ing com­mon cause with racists and anti-Semi­tes” because “such things are flat­ly con­trary to authen­tic Chris­t­ian faith.” (Details of Eastman’s role con­tin­ue to emerge, includ­ing a mes­sage he sent to Pence’s top lawyer dur­ing the Capi­tol attack blam­ing the vice pres­i­dent for refus­ing to over­turn the elec­tion; he repeat­ed­ly cit­ed the Fifth Amend­ment in refus­ing to answer ques­tions from the Jan. 6 com­mit­tee.)

    By Jan. 18, Gin­ni Thomas felt com­pelled to issue a semi-apol­o­gy on the forum, which also leaked. “I have like­ly imposed on you my life­time pas­sions,” she wrote. “My pas­sions and beliefs are like­ly shared with the bulk of you, but cer­tain­ly not all. And some­times the small­est mat­ters can divide loved ones for too long. Let’s pledge to not let pol­i­tics divide THIS fam­i­ly, and learn to speak more gen­tly and know­ing­ly across the divide,” adding, “I am cer­tain­ly on the hum­ble side of aware­ness here. ????”

    In the year that has passed, Gin­ni Thomas has delet­ed one of her two Face­book accounts and has tak­en a low­er pro­file. But she remains active. Last year, she invit­ed Gov. Ron DeSan­tis of Flori­da to join a Groundswell call, describ­ing her group as a “cone-of-silence coali­tion in an email to his staff that was obtained by Amer­i­can Over­sight, a non­par­ti­san watch­dog group. She invoked her hus­band, telling DeSantis’s aides that the jus­tice had been in con­tact with the gov­er­nor “on var­i­ous things of late.” (DeSan­tis, who did not respond to requests for com­ment, was in the midst of a num­ber of high-pro­file fed­er­al court bat­tles at the time.)

    The bat­tle over the elec­tion did not land before the court as Bush v. Gore did in 2000. But in Feb­ru­ary 2021, as Trump and his asso­ciates con­tin­ued press­ing for state law­mak­ers to audit — and reverse — the 2020 elec­tion, Jus­tice Thomas sharply dis­sent­ed when a 6‑to‑3 major­i­ty reject­ed the case brought by Penn­syl­va­nia Repub­li­cans that the court had refused to take up in Decem­ber. Echo­ing the argu­ments advanced by C.N.P. Action, he wrote that leg­is­la­tures have the con­sti­tu­tion­al author­i­ty to deter­mine how fed­er­al elec­tions are held, yet in 2020, “non­leg­isla­tive offi­cials in var­i­ous States took it upon them­selves to set the rules instead.”

    He called the refusal by his col­leagues to hear the case “inex­plic­a­ble,” argu­ing that “alle­ga­tions of sys­temic mal­ad­min­is­tra­tion, vot­er sup­pres­sion, or fraud” go “to the heart of pub­lic con­fi­dence in elec­tion results. That is obvi­ous­ly prob­lem­at­ic for alle­ga­tions backed by sub­stan­tial evi­dence. But the same is true where alle­ga­tions are incor­rect.” In oth­er words, elec­tion dis­putes and claims of fraud car­ried as much weight — and should lead to court hear­ings, just as Trump and his sup­port­ers had wished — whether they were true or not. “By doing noth­ing,” Thomas con­tin­ued, “we invite fur­ther con­fu­sion and ero­sion of vot­er con­fi­dence.” He did con­cede in a foot­note that the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion had been “free from strong evi­dence of sys­temic fraud.”

    Though the bat­tle for the pres­i­den­cy is over, the Thomases are win­ning in the war for the courts — and, some would argue, the coun­try. Some of the most impor­tant issues Gin­ni Thomas has worked for are now bar­rel­ing toward a Supreme Court rede­fined by Trump, where her hus­band is ascen­dant. Land­mark cas­es loom.

    One major test will be elec­tions, par­tic­u­lar­ly after Biden’s Jus­tice Depart­ment sued Geor­gia over a new vot­ing law that the depart­ment said dis­crim­i­nates against peo­ple of col­or. The Supreme Court has already agreed to review race-con­scious admis­sions pro­grams at Har­vard and the Uni­ver­si­ty of North Car­oli­na, set­ting the stage for a dra­mat­ic rever­sal on affir­ma­tive action, as Jus­tice Thomas has long sought. And Roe v. Wade appears like­ly to be hol­lowed out, if not over­turned: The court, with Thomas as the lone dis­senter, recent­ly allowed abor­tion providers the right to chal­lenge a Texas anti-abor­tion law, though a con­ser­v­a­tive major­i­ty, joined by Thomas, declined to block the law’s enforce­ment in the mean­time. And oral argu­ments in anoth­er recent case sug­gest that there may be enough votes to uphold a Mis­sis­sip­pi law ban­ning abor­tion after 15 weeks. Jus­tice Thomas seem­ing­ly used his ques­tions to press for a full rever­sal of Roe v. Wade, demand­ing: “If I were to ask you what con­sti­tu­tion­al right pro­tects the right to abor­tion, is it pri­va­cy? Is it auton­o­my? What would it be?”

    Such per­for­mances have made him a hero to many on the right. Brigitte Gabriel, a Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy stal­wart who once said that “every prac­tic­ing Mus­lim is a rad­i­cal Mus­lim” — and whose activism Gin­ni Thomas once praised in a glow­ing Dai­ly Caller col­umn — called Jus­tice Thomas “the real chief jus­tice” dur­ing Decem­ber oral argu­ments and tweet­ed a doc­tored pho­to in which every jus­tice had his face with the cap­tion: “This would be a Supreme Court with Courage.”

    “I love call­ing it the Thomas court,” said Hel­gi Walk­er, the for­mer Thomas clerk. “He didn’t change. That’s why it’s been won­der­ful to watch this arc. The influ­ence he exerts comes from the pow­er of his ideas,” she con­tin­ued. “That’s what his lega­cy is built on.”

    ...

    ———-

    “The Long Cru­sade of Clarence and Gin­ni Thomas” by Dan­ny Hakim and Jo Beck­er; The New York Times; 02/22/2022

    ““He has chart­ed a very rad­i­cal approach to judg­ing — it’s sur­pris­ing, actu­al­ly, how far the court has moved in his direc­tion,” John Yoo, a law pro­fes­sor at U.C.-Berkeley and for­mer Thomas clerk known for draft­ing some of the “tor­ture mem­os” under Pres­i­dent George W. Bush, said dur­ing a dis­cus­sion at the Her­itage event. (Yoo also advised for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence that he did not have the author­i­ty to reject elec­toral votes on Jan. 6.) “What do you think is going to hap­pen in the next 10 years when he might have a work­able major­i­ty of orig­i­nal­ists? I think we’re going to see the fruition of the last 30 years in the next 10.”

    As painful as it may be, we have to acknowl­edge that “tor­ture mem­os” lawyer has a point: the next decade real­ly is like­ly going to be a decade of fruition for Clarence Thomas. 30 years lat­er, it’s his court and it’s clear he’s not feel­ing any rea­son for restraint at this moment. The US is poised to expe­ri­ence the fruition of Clarence Thomas’s three decades of work in reshap­ing the courts.

    But of course it was­n’t real­ly Thomas who did all that reshap­ing. It was the wild suc­cess of the orga­nized con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment over the past three decades in win­ning the White House — with or with­out a major­i­ty of the nation­al vote — and stack­ing the court with an unstop­pable far right major­i­ty com­prised of jus­tices all derived from the exact same legal net­work. A legal net­work that has the CNP at its orga­niz­ing core. Clarence Thomas is real­ly just the old­est of the CNP’s Supreme Court jus­tices. Six and count­ing.

    But it’s still quite notable that Thomas was appar­ent­ly play­ing a men­tor-like role for CNP-mem­ber Leonard Leo. As we’ve seen, Don­ald Trump lit­er­al­ly out­sourced his Supreme Court nom­i­nee to Leo in his role as the exec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety, the orga­ni­za­tion that has arguably had more influ­ence than any­one else over the Repub­li­can pres­i­dents’ selec­tions for the Supreme Court over the last four decades. Thomas real­ly has had very real influ­ence both in front of con­ser­v­a­tive audi­ences but also behind the scene in build­ing this tight-knit elite con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment. A move­ment that appears to heav­i­ly be a prod­uct of the CNP’s efforts. Efforts that include years of fix­at­ing on vot­ing restric­tions — includ­ing the CNP-heavy Hon­est Elec­tions Project led by Leo — all the way up through the CNP’s pro­found role in the lead up to the Jan­u­ary 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion. The incred­i­ble arc of Clarence Thomas’s qui­et decades long ascen­sion to the heights of judi­cial influ­ence real­ly is just part of the this broad­er CNP ascen­dance. Its been a joint effort all along:

    ...
    Thomas’s ear­ly years on the court were dis­tin­guished by vig­or­ous dis­sents and icon­o­clas­tic opin­ions. While some jus­tices seek a nar­row enough argu­ment to gar­ner five votes, he often staked out a lone­li­er, more oppo­si­tion­al role as a dis­senter. In a 1997 Sec­ond Amend­ment case, he opened the door for future chal­lenges to local gun laws. In a 2000 Nebras­ka abor­tion case, he assailed Roe v. Wade, which he called “griev­ous­ly wrong.”

    “He was till­ing the ground,” said Leonard Leo, a for­mer exec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety, a Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy mem­ber and a close fam­i­ly friend of the couple’s. “In oth­er words, the field’s not ready for things to blos­som or flour­ish, but he’s doing what he can to pre­pare it. And that’s what he’s been doing.”

    Leo, a Catholic like the jus­tice, first met him when he was clerk­ing on the Dis­trict of Colum­bia Cir­cuit. Thomas, then a judge on that court, became a men­tor. The jus­tice has spent time at Leo’s New Eng­land vaca­tion home, is god­fa­ther to one of his chil­dren and has sup­port­ed him through hard­ships, includ­ing the death of his 14-year-old daugh­ter from spina bifi­da. The two men often dis­cussed reli­gion — Thomas once rec­om­mend­ed he read “A His­to­ry of Chris­tian­i­ty” by Paul John­son — and Leo says Jus­tice Thomas saw par­al­lels between how the church grew and how to build a body of con­ser­v­a­tive jurispru­dence.
    ...

    But as this mas­sive NY Times arti­cle made clear, Clarence Thomas role in build­ing this move­ment is triv­ial com­pared to the direct role his wife Gin­ni has been play­ing for decades too. A role that has includ­ed join­ing the board of “C.N.P. Action” in 2019. This is the action “C.N.P. Action” that start­ed cir­cu­lat­ed an “action steps” doc­u­ment back in Novem­ber of 2020 instruct­ing GOP law­mak­ers to chal­lenge the elec­tion results and appoint alter­nate slates of elec­tors. Instruc­tions for a coup:

    ...
    As Trump insist­ed, with­out evi­dence, that fraud had cheat­ed him of vic­to­ry, con­ser­v­a­tive groups rushed to ral­ly behind him. The coun­cil stood out, how­ev­er, not only because of its pedi­gree but also because one of its newest lead­ers was Vir­ginia Thomas, the wife of Jus­tice Clarence Thomas and a long­time activist in right-wing cir­cles. She had tak­en on a promi­nent role at the coun­cil dur­ing the Trump years and by 2019 had joined the nine-mem­ber board of C.N.P. Action, an arm of the coun­cil orga­nized as a 501©4 under a pro­vi­sion of the tax code that allows for direct polit­i­cal advo­ca­cy. It was C.N.P. Action that cir­cu­lat­ed the Novem­ber “action steps” doc­u­ment, the exis­tence of which has not been wide­ly known. It instruct­ed mem­bers to pres­sure Repub­li­can law­mak­ers into chal­leng­ing the elec­tion results and appoint­ing alter­nate slates of elec­tors: “Demand that they not aban­don their Con­sti­tu­tion­al respon­si­bil­i­ties dur­ing a time such as this.”

    Such a plan, if car­ried out suc­cess­ful­ly, would have almost cer­tain­ly land­ed before the Supreme Court — and Gin­ni Thomas’s hus­band. In fact, Trump was already call­ing for that to hap­pen. In a Dec. 2 speech at the White House, the pres­i­dent false­ly claimed that “mil­lions of votes were cast ille­gal­ly in swing states alone” and said he hoped “the Supreme Court of the Unit­ed States will see it” and “will do what’s right for our coun­try, because our coun­try can­not live with this kind of an elec­tion.”

    ...

    Per­haps most impor­tant in under­stand­ing the couple’s far-reach­ing phi­los­o­phy and project is their long rela­tion­ship with the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy, aspects of which have not been pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed. Jus­tice Thomas head­lined an event for the group in 2002, and in 2008 he attend­ed one of its meet­ings and was pho­tographed with a gav­el behind a lectern bear­ing the group’s name.

    Just over a decade lat­er, Gin­ni Thomas would join the board of the council’s action arm. Dur­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion in 2019, she warned that “con­ser­v­a­tives and Repub­li­cans are tired of being the oppressed minor­i­ty,” adding that they were being “false­ly vil­i­fied, slan­dered and defamed as extrem­ists and big­ots and haters.” The left, she said, was “mak­ing it jus­ti­fi­able and nor­mal­ized to fight us, to hurt us, to kill us even.” For her, this was a fight decades in the mak­ing.

    ...

    By 2019, her influ­ence in Repub­li­can cir­cles was grow­ing. She took on a lead­er­ship role at the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy, join­ing the board of C.N.P. Action, which had become a key cog in the Trump mes­sag­ing machine. (The coun­cil declined to com­ment.) The board holds break­out ses­sions on “press­ing issues,” then pub­lish­es “action steps” for mem­bers. That year, she and her friend Cle­ta Mitchell, a coun­cil mem­ber and Repub­li­can elec­tions lawyer, con­duct­ed a joint ses­sion at which Mitchell dis­cussed har­ness­ing char­i­ta­ble dol­lars for polit­i­cal pur­pos­es and Thomas spoke on the cul­ture war. Thomas told her lis­ten­ers that soci­etal forces were arrayed against them, while flash­ing a slide depict­ing the left as black snakes coiled around cul­tur­al insti­tu­tions. “Our house is on fire,” she declared, “and we are stomp­ing ants in the dri­ve­way.”

    Dur­ing Trump’s pres­i­den­cy, doc­u­ments obtained by The Times show, the coun­cil and its affil­i­ates rou­tine­ly took on issues that were like­ly to go before the Supreme Court. Gin­ni Thomas per­son­al­ly co-mod­er­at­ed a pan­el called “The Pro-Life Move­ment on Offense” that laid out strate­gies to ener­gize “low turnout pro-life vot­ers” and “per­suad­able Democ­rats and His­pan­ics” by talk­ing to them “about late-term abor­tion, tax­pay­er fund­ing of abor­tion, and the Supreme Court,” one of the slides in the pre­sen­ta­tion read. Amid the pan­dem­ic and legal chal­lenges to lock­down restric­tions, the orga­ni­za­tion urged mem­bers to “pray for our church­es to rise up.” The scope of poten­tial con­flicts has lit­tle prece­dent beyond nar­row­er episodes on low­er fed­er­al courts, as when the wife of Judge Stephen Rein­hardt was an A.C.L.U. exec­u­tive but he did not always recuse him­self from cas­es in which the A.C.L.U. had an inter­est. But unlike the Supreme Court, lit­i­gants there had the right to appeal.

    As the 2020 elec­tion neared, C.N.P. Action meet­ings and doc­u­ments tar­get­ed Demo­c­ra­t­ic strate­gies that make it eas­i­er to vote, includ­ing the prac­tice of civic groups’ gath­er­ing bal­lot appli­ca­tions, derid­ed by many on the right as “bal­lot har­vest­ing.” Months lat­er, the Supreme Court upheld an Ari­zona ban on the prac­tice, with Thomas in the 6‑to‑3 major­i­ty. C.N.P. Action also pressed for manda­to­ry vot­er-iden­ti­fi­ca­tion laws and even float­ed the idea of using for­mer Navy SEALs to mon­i­tor polls.
    ...

    But Gin­ni’s ties to the CNP clear­ly start­ed long before that 2019 appoint­ment to the CNP Action board. The ‘Groundswell’ group that she start­ed with fel­low CNP-mem­ber Steve Ban­non back in 2013 as a rival to Grover Norquist’s “Wednes­day Meet­ing” was almost all oth­er CNP peo­ple. As we saw back in 2013, the Groundswell atten­dees includ­ed John Bolton, Frank Gaffney, Ken Black­well, Jer­ry Boykin, Tom Fit­ton, and Diana Ban­is­ter. All of them show up on the leaked CNP mem­ber­ship list. Also list­ed in this NY Times arti­cle are Leonard Leo and Rus­sell J. Ram­s­land Jr. Recall the crit­i­cal role CNP mem­bers Ram­s­land and J. Keet Lewis played in the lead up to the insur­rec­tion. Ramsland’s pri­vate intel­li­gence com­pa­ny, Allied Secu­ri­ty Oper­a­tions Group (ASOG), was start­ed in June 2017 by Adam T. Kraft, a for­mer senior offi­cial at the Defense Intel­li­gence Agency. Start­ing in 2018, Ram­s­land became a lead­ing GOP pur­vey­or of mass vot­er fraud alle­ga­tions. And in the days lead­ing up to the insur­rec­tion, Ram­s­land was joined by retired Army colonel and psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare expert Phil Wal­dron as they oper­at­ed in Steve Bannon’s and Rudy Giuliani’s “war room” oper­at­ing out of the Willard Hotel.

    Anoth­er ear­ly Groundswell fig­ure who does­n’t show up on CNP mem­ber­ship lists is Cather­ine Engel­brecht. Recall how Engel­brecht was mak­ing her vot­er fraud claims back in 2012 at a num­ber of Koch-financed Amer­i­cans For Pros­per­i­ty events. It’s a reminder that while the effort lead­ing up to the insur­rec­tion very much a CNP effort, it was­n’t exclu­sive­ly. The Koch net­work, for exam­ple, has been busi­ly at work:

    ...
    The Thomases have long posed a unique quandary in Wash­ing­ton. Because Supreme Court jus­tices do not want to be per­ceived as par­ti­san, they tend to avoid polit­i­cal events and entan­gle­ments, and their spous­es often keep low pro­files. But the Thomases have defied such norms. Since the found­ing of the nation, no spouse of a sit­ting Supreme Court jus­tice has been as overt a polit­i­cal activist as Gin­ni Thomas. In addi­tion to her perch at the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy, she found­ed a group called Groundswell with the sup­port of Stephen K. Ban­non, the hard-line nation­al­ist and for­mer Trump advis­er. It holds a week­ly meet­ing of influ­en­tial con­ser­v­a­tives, many of whom work direct­ly on issues that have come before the court.

    ...

    A few weeks after Mitt Rom­ney lost the 2012 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, Gin­ni Thomas called Steve Ban­non, then the chair­man of Bre­it­bart, and they had lunch at the Wash­ing­ton town­house that was both Bannon’s res­i­dence and Breitbart’s head­quar­ters. Romney’s loss pre­saged a bat­tle for the Repub­li­can Party’s direc­tion, and Thomas want­ed to start a hard-right round table to serve as an alter­na­tive to an estab­lish­ment meet­ing run on Wednes­days by Grover Norquist, the anti-tax cru­sad­er. “She had the idea, ‘I think we need some­thing to counter Grover’s Wednes­day meet­ing,’” recalled Ban­non, who didn’t know her well at the time. “And I said, ‘That’s a bril­liant idea.’”

    The pre­vi­ous year, Thomas’s activism drew scruti­ny of her and her hus­band, when Com­mon Cause, an advo­ca­cy group, reviewed I.R.S. fil­ings and crit­i­cized Jus­tice Thomas for fail­ing to dis­close his wife’s income — near­ly $700,000 over five years from the Her­itage Foun­da­tion — as required by fed­er­al law. He sub­se­quent­ly amend­ed 20 years of fil­ings. After her stint at Her­itage, Gin­ni Thomas ran a Wash­ing­ton-based con­sti­tu­tion­al stud­ies cen­ter for Michigan’s Hills­dale Col­lege, a con­ser­v­a­tive bas­tion that her hus­band has called “a shin­ing city on a hill.” She also briefly ran her own advo­ca­cy group called Lib­er­ty Cen­tral, which cam­paigned against a planned Islam­ic com­mu­ni­ty cen­ter and mosque in Low­er Man­hat­tan near ground zero; that group was fund­ed in large mea­sure by Har­lan Crow, a friend of the Thomases’ and board mem­ber of the Amer­i­can Enter­prise Insti­tute, a con­ser­v­a­tive think tank whose work Jus­tice Thomas has cit­ed. Crow, a major Repub­li­can donor, gave $500,000 to Lib­er­ty Cen­tral. (Gin­ni Thomas’s 2010 pay of $120,511 was near­ly 13 per­cent of the organization’s rev­enue that year, tax records show.) In the wake of the finan­cial dis­clo­sures, more than 70 House Democ­rats asked the jus­tice to recuse him­self from delib­er­a­tions about Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s Afford­able Care Act, which Gin­ni Thomas lob­bied against. He declined.

    Now her new group, Groundswell, took shape, cou­pling a the­atri­cal cloak-and-dag­ger sen­si­bil­i­ty with an inabil­i­ty to keep secrets. Ear­ly par­tic­i­pants drew from a num­ber of hard-line inter­est groups, includ­ing Frank Gaffney of the Cen­ter for Secu­ri­ty Pol­i­cy, Tom Fit­ton of Judi­cial Watch and Ken Black­well of the Fam­i­ly Research Coun­cil, as well as Leonard Leo and Allen West, an out­spo­ken for­mer Flori­da con­gress­man, and a num­ber of right-wing jour­nal­ists, includ­ing Mark Tap­scott, then the exec­u­tive edi­tor of The Wash­ing­ton Exam­in­er. A trove of inter­nal emails was prompt­ly leaked to Moth­er Jones mag­a­zine, high­light­ing the group’s use of tac­ti­cal terms like “OpSec” (“oper­a­tions secu­ri­ty”) and its hatred of estab­lish­ment Repub­li­can fig­ures, in par­tic­u­lar Karl Rove, whom they reviled as a mod­er­at­ing influ­ence on the par­ty.

    Gin­ni Thomas over­saw the group’s plan for its “30-front war” as Groundswell became a plat­form for far-right lead­ers, donors and media fig­ures — the peo­ple Ban­non called the “hon­ey bad­gers” of the move­ment — to exchange and ampli­fy hard-line posi­tions on immi­gra­tion, abor­tion and gun con­trol. It was, as Ban­non put it, “all the stuff that became the foun­da­tion­al stuff of the Trump move­ment.”

    Vot­ing was an ear­ly focus. Among the ear­ly Groundswell par­tic­i­pants was Rus­sell J. Ram­s­land Jr., an influ­en­tial Texas-based backer of evi­dence-free vot­ing-fraud claims who would make a failed con­gres­sion­al run. So was James O’Keefe, the founder of Project Ver­i­tas, a right-wing group that has used decep­tion and hid­den cam­eras to try to but­tress claims of vot­er fraud. Anoth­er par­tic­i­pant was Cather­ine Engle­brecht, a Texas activist who in 2009 found­ed True the Vote, a group that says it is bat­tling “groups who sub­vert our elec­tions to serve their own pur­pos­es” and has pushed for vot­ing restric­tions.

    The activists were par­tic­u­lar­ly inflamed after Oba­ma signed an exec­u­tive order on March 28, 2013, that cre­at­ed a com­mis­sion to study elec­tions. “OBAMA TAKES TOTAL CONTROL OF ELECTIONS,” one Groundswell mem­ber wrote in an email to the group. Engle­brecht warned in response that the com­mis­sion, which had no author­i­ty beyond writ­ing a report and mak­ing rec­om­men­da­tions, “has the capac­i­ty to wipe out fair elec­tions.”

    Bongi­no, anoth­er Groundswell mem­ber, wrote: “We need to reframe this. The nar­ra­tive of the Left has already tak­en hold.” He added, “The words ‘Vot­er ID’ are already lost & equat­ed with racism.” Thomas weighed in, list­ing key House staff mem­bers work­ing on elec­tions mat­ters, and asked, “Who else are key work­ing group mem­bers on ELECTION LAW, ELECTION REFORM and THE LEFT’S NARRATIVES, Groundswell???”

    Three months after the email exchange, Jus­tice Thomas pro­vid­ed a crit­i­cal vote in the court’s 5‑to‑4 Shel­by Coun­ty v. Hold­er deci­sion, which effec­tive­ly stripped the Vot­ing Rights Act of lan­guage that pro­tect­ed vot­ers in places that had his­tor­i­cal­ly dis­en­fran­chised them on the basis of race. The act had required states and coun­ties with a his­to­ry of dis­crim­i­na­to­ry prac­tices, most­ly in the South, to get fed­er­al pre­clear­ance of such mea­sures. The case was led in part by one of Thomas’s own for­mer clerks, William Consovoy, whose argu­ments echoed the justice’s views. In fact, Thomas had advanced the argu­ment for Shel­by four years ear­li­er, when he raised con­cerns about the con­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty of pre­clear­ance in a case from Texas, argu­ing that there was no longer “a sys­tem­at­ic cam­paign to deny black cit­i­zens access to the bal­lot through intim­i­da­tion and vio­lence.” Four years lat­er, in his con­cur­ring opin­ion in Shel­by, he wrote, “Our Nation has changed.”

    The rul­ing was cheered on the right, with The Wall Street Journal’s edi­to­r­i­al board call­ing it “a tri­umph of racial progress.” Civ­il rights groups were dis­mayed. “The Shel­by deci­sion is one of the biggest affronts to our democ­ra­cy in mod­ern his­to­ry,” said Janai Nel­son, asso­ciate direc­tor of the NAACP Legal Defense and Edu­ca­tion­al Fund, argu­ing that it “unleashed a wave of vot­er sup­pres­sion that is like what we wit­nessed in the Jim Crow era.” The deci­sion freed states to enact restric­tive laws, she added, that were “often based on myth­i­cal jus­ti­fi­ca­tions” of sup­posed vot­er fraud and “by no coin­ci­dence dis­en­fran­chise minor­i­ty vot­ers at alarm­ing­ly dis­pro­por­tion­ate rates.”
    ...

    Flash for­ward to the Trump admin­is­tra­tion and we learn that Gin­ni was appar­ent­ly lead­ing a Groundswell lob­by­ing effort to staff the Trump admin­is­tra­tion with their pre­ferred peo­ple. The only prob­lem was many of them could­n’t pass a secu­ri­ty check. Beyond that, she passed her­self off as a voice of Trump’s grass-roots base. From elite cryp­to-theo­crat pow­er orga­niz­er to ‘voice of the peo­ple’, Gin­ni has worn a lot of hats over the years. Some­times simul­ta­ne­ous­ly:

    ...
    Trump had long been intrigued by Jus­tice Thomas. Dur­ing the tran­si­tion, in a meet­ing to dis­cuss the court with Leonard Leo, he expressed an inter­est in learn­ing more about the jus­tice. “At one point dur­ing the con­ver­sa­tion, he said to me, ‘You know, when I was out on the cam­paign trail, you know, when I men­tioned Clarence Thomas, his name, some­times the guy would get more applause than I did,’” Leo recalled. “ ‘What was that all about?’ And I said, ‘Well, you know, he’s a hero to a lot of peo­ple.’”

    A court­ing of Thomas fol­lowed, prompt­ed as well by rumors that he might retire. His ros­ter of for­mer clerks became a go-to list for Trump judi­cial picks. (“You did appoint a lot of my kids,” the jus­tice would lat­er thank McGahn, Trump’s first White House coun­sel, in his Her­itage speech.) Ear­ly on, there was also a pho­to-op with Thomas and his clerks, who went to the White House. And lat­er, there was an invi­ta­tion for the jus­tice, along with his wife, to join the pres­i­dent and first lady for din­ner.

    The lunch fol­low­ing the Kavanaugh bat­tle, how­ev­er, was sup­posed to be a pri­vate affair between the jus­tice and the pres­i­dent. But when Thomas arrived, Trump aides said, they were sur­prised to see that he had brought an unin­vit­ed guest — his wife. Trump world was learn­ing, as oth­ers have, that the two are a pack­age deal.

    The accounts of the Thomases’ meet­ings and con­ver­sa­tions with the White House are based on inter­views with nine for­mer Trump aides and advis­ers, most of whom request­ed anonymi­ty in order to speak frankly about how the courtship of Thomas cre­at­ed an open­ing for his wife. (One said he didn’t want “the Gin­ni prayer war­riors com­ing after me.”) Sev­er­al said they were nev­er clear as to whether she was there as an activist or a paid con­sul­tant. They recount­ed how she aggres­sive­ly pushed far-right can­di­dates for var­i­ous admin­is­tra­tion jobs and posi­tioned her­self as a voice of Trump’s grass-roots base. “Here’s what the peeps think,” she would say, accord­ing to one of the aides. “We have to lis­ten to the peeps.”

    Short­ly after the lunch meet­ing with her hus­band, she got a meet­ing of her own with the pres­i­dent, at her request, arriv­ing in the Roo­sevelt Room on Jan. 25, 2019, with a del­e­ga­tion that includ­ed mem­bers of Groundswell in tow. “It was the cra­zi­est meet­ing I’ve ever been to,” said a Trump aide who attend­ed. “She start­ed by lead­ing the prayer.” When oth­ers began speak­ing, the aide remem­bers talk of “the trans­sex­u­al agen­da” and par­ents “chop­ping off their children’s breasts.” He said the pres­i­dent “tried to rein it in — it was hard to hear though,” because through­out the meet­ing atten­dees were audi­bly pray­ing.

    t was an event with no prece­dent, and some of the details of what tran­spired soon leaked: the wife of a sit­ting Supreme Court jus­tice lob­by­ing a pres­i­dent when sev­er­al cas­es involv­ing trans­gen­der rights were mak­ing their way through the fed­er­al courts. (The fol­low­ing year, Jus­tice Thomas would join a dis­sent that assert­ed that the Civ­il Rights Act did not cov­er peo­ple on the basis of sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion or gen­der iden­ti­ty.) The meet­ing grew chaot­ic. Gin­ni Thomas and oth­er atten­dees com­plained to the pres­i­dent that their favored hard-line job can­di­dates were being blocked and that his own per­son­nel office should be purged, depict­ing some of his aides as clos­et lib­er­als and Nev­er Trumpers.

    ...

    “In the White House, she was out of bounds many times,” one of Trump’s senior aides said. “It was always: ‘We need more MAGA peo­ple in gov­ern­ment. We’re try­ing to get these résumés through, and we’re being blocked.’ I appre­ci­at­ed her ener­gy, but a lot of these peo­ple couldn’t pass back­ground checks.” Many of the peo­ple she pushed, anoth­er for­mer Trump aide said, “had legit­i­mate back­ground issues, secu­ri­ty-clear­ance issues or had done a lot of busi­ness over­seas.”
    ...

    But it’s Gin­ni’s actions in the months fol­low­ing the 2020 elec­tion lead­ing up to the Capi­tol insur­rec­tion that are of imme­di­ate inter­est. As we saw, CNP Action imme­di­ate­ly sprung into action advis­ing law­mak­ers to chal­lenge the elec­tion results and file alter­na­tive elec­tors. Which is basi­cal­ly what hap­pened. CNP mem­ber Cle­ta Mitchel was fever­ish­ly work­ing on legal jus­ti­fi­ca­tions to over­turn the elec­tion. And as we’ve seen, Gin­ni was report­ed­ly work­ing close­ly with Cle­ta dur­ing this peri­od. But it’s quite notable that the oth­er ‘respectable’ con­ser­v­a­tive lawyer seek­ing out a legal path to chal­lenge the elec­tion was John East, who is a for­mer clerk for Thomas and a close friend of the cou­ple.

    Regard­ing Gin­ni’s seat on the advi­so­ry board of Turn­ing Point USA and its spon­sor­ship of the Jan 6 ral­ly, also recall how Turn­ing Point’s founder and pres­i­dent is CNP mem­ber Char­lie Kirk.

    Now, regard­ing the shared his­to­ry as ear­ly sig­nif­i­cant Tea Par­ty activist that Gin­ni had with Jen­ny Beth Mar­tin and Amy Kre­mer, don’t for­get that both Jen­ny Beth Mar­tin and Amy Kre­mer are list­ed as CNP mem­bers. It would­n’t be that sur­pris­ing if Gin­ni real­ly did bring ‘uni­ty’ to the ral­ly orga­niz­ers as we are told. She real­ly appar­ent­ly was act­ing as kind of CNP fix­er in the mid­dle of it all, and well posi­tioned to play that role:

    ...
    In the weeks after Trump’s loss, court chal­lenges began to pile up from his team, his allies and even Repub­li­can law­mak­ers. They echoed the call put out by C.N.P. Action to chal­lenge swing-state out­comes, with one Repub­li­can con­gress­man, Mike Kel­ly of Penn­syl­va­nia, fil­ing a law­suit against his own state to try to stop the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of its votes. On Dec. 8, the Supreme Court refused a request to hear that case before the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion date in a one-sen­tence state­ment. It remains unknown whether the jus­tices were unan­i­mous in their deci­sion.

    By then, the net­work around the Thomases was light­ing up. On Dec. 10, a for­mer Thomas clerk and close friend of the couple’s, John C. East­man, went on “War Room,” a pod­cast and radio show host­ed by Ban­non. East­man argued that the coun­try was already at the point of a con­sti­tu­tion­al cri­sis — and he urged the Supreme Court to inter­vene. Ban­non eager­ly agreed. Behind the scenes, East­man was advis­ing Trump and his cam­paign on a new pro­pos­al to change the out­come of the elec­tion: Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, he assert­ed, could refuse to accept swing-state votes and send them back to the state leg­is­la­tures when he presided over the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of the elec­tion in a joint ses­sion of Con­gress on Jan. 6.

    As the Trump court chal­lenges to the elec­tion mul­ti­plied, C.N.P. Action took up the charge once more, train­ing its sights on the Jan. 6 cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. In Decem­ber, it cir­cu­lat­ed a newslet­ter that includ­ed a report titled “Five States and the Elec­tion Irreg­u­lar­i­ties and Issues,” tar­get­ing five swing states where Trump and his allies were already press­ing lit­i­ga­tion. But time was run­ning out for the courts to “declare the elec­tions null and void,” the report warned. The newslet­ter advised: “There is his­tor­i­cal, legal prece­dent for Con­gress to count a slate of elec­tors dif­fer­ent from that cer­ti­fied by the Gov­er­nor of the state.” One co-author of the “Five States” report was Cle­ta Mitchell, who by that time was among the lawyers advis­ing Trump.

    Soon a num­ber of long­time friends and asso­ciates of the Thomases were involved in efforts to over­turn the elec­tion results, or help­ing plan the Jan. 6 ral­lies. Besides East­man and Ban­non, there was Mitchell, who took part in Trump’s Jan. 2 call in which he exhort­ed Georgia’s sec­re­tary of state to “find” the votes he need­ed to claim a vic­to­ry. Turn­ing Point USA, on whose advi­so­ry board Gin­ni Thomas had served, was a spon­sor of the Jan. 6 event and pro­vid­ed bus­es for atten­dees. (An ear­ly rumor sug­gest­ing that she paid for the bus­es was debunked.)

    Oth­er spon­sors includ­ed two more groups with which Gin­ni Thomas had long ties. One was the Tea Par­ty Patri­ots, head­ed by Jen­ny Beth Mar­tin, a fel­low Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy activist. The oth­er was Women for Amer­i­ca First, which held the per­mit for the ral­ly at the Ellipse and was run by Amy Kre­mer. The two women, and Gin­ni Thomas, had all been ear­ly Tea Par­ty activists, though Kre­mer and Mar­tin had been engaged for years in a bit­ter legal dis­pute. “That’s why it was inter­est­ing when I learned that they’d been work­ing togeth­er on the Jan­u­ary 6 coor­di­na­tion,” Dustin Stock­ton said, adding that he had been told by anoth­er orga­niz­er, Car­o­line Wren, on Jan. 5 that it was Gin­ni Thomas who worked to bring uni­ty ahead of the ral­ly. (Asked about Thomas’s medi­at­ing role, Kremer’s daugh­ter Kylie Jane Kre­mer, the exec­u­tive direc­tor of Women for Amer­i­ca First, did not answer that ques­tion, instead paint­ing Stock­ton as some­one who makes “inac­cu­rate and atten­tion-seek­ing state­ments.” Mar­tin sim­i­lar­ly avoid­ed the ques­tion, issu­ing a state­ment that con­demned the vio­lence at the Capi­tol. Wren dis­put­ed Stockton’s account but declined to elab­o­rate.)

    ...

    The bat­tle over the elec­tion did not land before the court as Bush v. Gore did in 2000. But in Feb­ru­ary 2021, as Trump and his asso­ciates con­tin­ued press­ing for state law­mak­ers to audit — and reverse — the 2020 elec­tion, Jus­tice Thomas sharply dis­sent­ed when a 6‑to‑3 major­i­ty reject­ed the case brought by Penn­syl­va­nia Repub­li­cans that the court had refused to take up in Decem­ber. Echo­ing the argu­ments advanced by C.N.P. Action, he wrote that leg­is­la­tures have the con­sti­tu­tion­al author­i­ty to deter­mine how fed­er­al elec­tions are held, yet in 2020, “non­leg­isla­tive offi­cials in var­i­ous States took it upon them­selves to set the rules instead.”

    He called the refusal by his col­leagues to hear the case “inex­plic­a­ble,” argu­ing that “alle­ga­tions of sys­temic mal­ad­min­is­tra­tion, vot­er sup­pres­sion, or fraud” go “to the heart of pub­lic con­fi­dence in elec­tion results. That is obvi­ous­ly prob­lem­at­ic for alle­ga­tions backed by sub­stan­tial evi­dence. But the same is true where alle­ga­tions are incor­rect.” In oth­er words, elec­tion dis­putes and claims of fraud car­ried as much weight — and should lead to court hear­ings, just as Trump and his sup­port­ers had wished — whether they were true or not. “By doing noth­ing,” Thomas con­tin­ued, “we invite fur­ther con­fu­sion and ero­sion of vot­er con­fi­dence.” He did con­cede in a foot­note that the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion had been “free from strong evi­dence of sys­temic fraud.”

    Though the bat­tle for the pres­i­den­cy is over, the Thomases are win­ning in the war for the courts — and, some would argue, the coun­try. Some of the most impor­tant issues Gin­ni Thomas has worked for are now bar­rel­ing toward a Supreme Court rede­fined by Trump, where her hus­band is ascen­dant. Land­mark cas­es loom.
    ...

    But while the uni­fy­ing role Gin­ni may have played between Jen­ny Beth Mar­tin and Amy Kre­mer is indeed inter­est­ing. Far more inter­est­ing is the pos­si­ble role she may have played in smooth­ing over the feuds between the “Women for Amer­i­ca First” ral­ly at the Ellipse being led by Kre­mer and the ‘wild’ “Stop the Steal” ral­ly planned by CNP-mem­ber Ali Alexan­der and Alex Jones at the Capi­tol lat­er that after­noon. A ral­ly that nev­er hap­pened because the insur­rec­tion broke out as peo­ple were march­ing on the way there from the Ellipse. Major ques­tions about whether or not that insur­rec­tion just ‘spon­ta­neous­ly’ broke out between ral­lies — leav­ing nei­ther ral­ly orga­niz­er as direct­ly cul­pa­ble — remain unan­swered. Did Gin­ni Thomas play any addi­tion CNP fix­er roles behind the scenes in rela­tion to the alleged ten­sions between the two ral­lies? It’s a high­ly intrigu­ing ques­tion giv­en the time­line of how the events of that day played out:

    ...
    New report­ing also shows just how blurred the lines between the couple’s inter­ests became dur­ing the effort to over­turn the 2020 elec­tion, which cul­mi­nat­ed in the ral­ly held at the Ellipse, just out­side the White House grounds, aimed at stop­ping Con­gress from cer­ti­fy­ing the state votes that gave Joe Biden his vic­to­ry. Many of the ral­ly orga­niz­ers and those advis­ing Trump had con­nec­tions to the Thomases, but lit­tle has been known about what role, if any, Gin­ni Thomas played, beyond the fact that on the morn­ing of the March to Save Amer­i­ca, as the ral­ly was called, she urged her Face­book fol­low­ers to watch how the day unfold­ed. “LOVE MAGA peo­ple!!!!” she post­ed before the march turned vio­lent. “GOD BLESS EACH OF YOU STANDING UP or PRAYING!”

    But her role went deep­er, and beyond C.N.P. Action. Dustin Stock­ton, an orga­niz­er who worked with Women for Amer­i­ca First, which held the per­mit for the Ellipse ral­ly, said he was told that Gin­ni Thomas played a peace­mak­ing role between feud­ing fac­tions of ral­ly orga­niz­ers “so that there wouldn’t be any divi­sion around Jan­u­ary 6.”

    “The way it was pre­sent­ed to me was that Gin­ni was unit­ing these dif­fer­ent fac­tions around a sin­gu­lar mis­sion on Jan­u­ary 6,” said Stock­ton, who pre­vi­ous­ly worked for Ban­non. “That Gin­ni was involved made sense — she’s pret­ty neu­tral, and she doesn’t have a lot of ene­mies in the move­ment.”

    ...

    In the weeks that fol­lowed Jan. 6, as pub­lic con­dem­na­tion of the insur­rec­tion grew to include some Repub­li­can lead­ers like Sen­a­tor Mitch McConnell, the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy cir­cu­lat­ed in its newslet­ter anoth­er pre­vi­ous­ly unre­port­ed memo, writ­ten by one of its mem­bers, that out­lined strate­gies to make the Capi­tol riot seem more palat­able. “Dri­ve the nar­ra­tive that it was most­ly peace­ful protests,” a lead­ing mem­ber of the group advised, accord­ing to a copy reviewed by The Times. “Ampli­fy the con­cerns of the pro­tes­tors and give them legit­i­ma­cy.”

    In the year since the insur­rec­tion, a num­ber of friends and allies of the Thomases, and even a for­mer Thomas clerk, have received sub­poe­nas from the con­gres­sion­al com­mit­tee inves­ti­gat­ing the events of Jan. 6. Gin­ni Thomas co-signed a let­ter in Decem­ber call­ing for House Repub­li­cans to expel Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger from their con­fer­ence for join­ing the Jan. 6 com­mit­tee. Thomas and her co-authors said the inves­ti­ga­tion “brings dis­re­spect to our country’s rule of law” and “legal harass­ment to pri­vate cit­i­zens who have done noth­ing wrong,” adding that they would begin “a nation­wide move­ment to add cit­i­zens’ voic­es to this effort.”

    A few weeks lat­er, the Supreme Court ruled 8 to 1 to allow the release of records from the Trump White House relat­ed to the Jan. 6 attack. Jus­tice Thomas was the sole dis­senter.
    ...

    At this point, it’s almost hard to imag­ine Gin­ni and Ali weren’t in some kind of secret com­mu­ni­ca­tion with each oth­er. Did it per­haps involve the mys­te­ri­ous third ‘burn­er’ phone. Recall how Amy and Kylie Kre­mer got three burn­er phones and we still don’t know who got the third. Was it Gin­ni? She’s a very plau­si­ble can­di­date. She’s a log­i­cal can­di­date from a con­spir­a­cy logis­tics stand­point. Ali Alexan­der? Also quite plau­si­ble, espe­cial­ly giv­en his CNP mem­ber­ship. Who knows, but the CNP’s fin­ger­prints real­ly are all over this entire sto­ry. It’s just kind of amaz­ing how many of those CNP fin­ger­prints come from the wife of the leader of the Supreme Court’s CNP Major­i­ty.

    A lot of swirling ques­tions about all that. Swirling ques­tions that will like­ly con­tin­ue swirling for the fore­see­able future. At least in most cas­es. Swirling ques­tions are kind of a CNP spe­cial­ty.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 12, 2022, 2:05 am
  17. What has John East­man been up to? It’s not a hypo­thet­i­cal. The Con­sti­tu­tion­al lawyer lead­ing the legal bat­tle to jus­ti­fy Don­ald Trump’s attempts to over­turn the 2020 elec­tion has been quite busy over the past year being large­ly wel­comed back into ‘polite soci­ety’. But as the fol­low set of arti­cles describes, John East­man has also been quite busy work­ing on an old project: over­turn­ing the 2020 elec­tion.

    Yep, East­man is still at it. He attend­ed a closed door meet­ing with Wis­con­sin Repub­li­cans on March 16 where he encour­aged them to decer­ti­fy the 2020 elec­tion results and send a new slate of elec­tors. For real. Soon after the meet­ing, Don­ald Trump again pub­licly implored the Wis­con­sin GOP to over­turn the elec­tion results.

    But it’s not like this was a pure­ly sym­bol­ic ges­ture. While Repub­li­can Wis­con­sin Assem­bly Speak­er Robin Vos reit­er­at­ed his posi­tion that the 2020 elec­tion can’t be decer­ti­fied fol­low­ing the meet­ing, keep in mind that Vos was held in con­tempt by a judge last month for fail­ing to turn over doc­u­ments relat­ed to the GOP inves­ti­ga­tion he had launched him­self in May 2021 into the 2020 elec­tion and has repeat­ed­ly alleged wide­spread vot­er fraud. So when we learn that East­man has been lob­by­ing Vos behind closed doors to con­tin­ue his quest to over­turn the 2020 elec­tion results, we real­ly do have to ask what East­man is up to. And what the Wis­con­sin GOP is up to. They aren’t done try­ing to over­turn the 2020 elec­tion. Or rather, they aren’t done try­ing to inval­i­date and dele­git­imize the 2020 elec­tion

    And that brings us to the oth­er rather odd area of activ­i­ty for John East­man late­ly. It turns out a group he involved with, Con­sti­tu­tion­al Coun­sel Group, has a new client: Repub­li­can House Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene (MTG). Recall how Greene was part of that group of House GOP­ers — Greene, Paul Gosar, Lau­ren Boe­bert, Mo Brooks, Madi­son Cawthorn, Andy Big­gs, and Louie Gohmert — who were report­ed­ly involved with “dozens” of meet­ings with fig­ures like Ali Alexan­der in the lead up to the Capi­tol insur­rec­tion.

    East­man’s “Con­sti­tu­tion­al Coun­sel Group” has appar­ent­ly been pro­vid­ing a vari­ety of ser­vices for Greene. For starters, a joint fundrais­ing com­mit­tee run by Greene and Rep. Matt Gaetz, Put Amer­i­ca First, paid East­man’s Con­sti­tu­tion­al Coun­sel Group $15,000 for ser­vices between Sep­tem­ber and Decem­ber 2021. Then on Jan­u­ary 14, the MTG reelec­tion cam­paign paid the group anoth­er $10k.

    What are these MTG enti­ties pay­ing for? That’s anoth­er big ques­tion about what John East­man has been up to post-insur­rec­tion. Anoth­er big ques­tion that we don’t real­ly have an answer for. But we do have clues. For starters, a law­suit was filed against MTG over her sup­port for the Jan­u­ary 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion to block her from run­ning for reelec­tion. That does actu­al­ly sound like the kind of legal conun­drum a con­sti­tu­tion­al lawyer like John East­man might be use­ful for address­ing. Was that the ser­vice MTG hired him to pro­vide? Maybe, but let’s not for­get that the MTG/Gaetz joint fundrais­ing oper­a­tion appar­ent­ly hired his ser­vices the month before that law­suit was filed. There were pre­sum­ably oth­er ser­vices of inter­est.

    And then there’s the inci­dent that took place days before the Jan­u­ary 14th $10k pay­ment by MTG’s reelec­tion cam­paign to East­man’s Con­sti­tu­tion­al Coun­sel Group: MTG went on the radio show of pro­to-fas­cist Sebas­t­ian Gorka’s radio show and made the fol­low­ing state­ment:

    “Ulti­mate­ly, the truth is it’s our Sec­ond Amend­ment rights, our right to bear arms, that pro­tects Amer­i­cans and gives us the abil­i­ty to defend our­selves from a tyran­ni­cal gov­ern­ment,” Greene told right-wing talk host Seb Gor­ka on Jan. 11. “And I hate to use this lan­guage, but Democ­rats, they’re exact­ly ... they’re doing exact­ly what our Founders talked about when they gave us the pre­cious rights that we have.”

    It was a pret­ty unam­bigu­ous call for a sec­ond insur­rec­tion. On the radio. And it was made three days before the $10k pay­ment to East­man’s group. And about three months after a law­suit was opened against MTG to block her from run­ning for reelec­tion over her sup­port for the insur­rec­tion. So was that what MTG’s reelec­tion cam­paign was pay­ing for? Advice over how to fend off a law­suit over her suit­abil­i­ty for office as a pro-insur­rec­tion can­di­date?

    Per­haps. But as we’re going to see in the third arti­cle except below from the Dai­ly Beast, there’s anoth­er rather inter­est­ing quirk in MTG’s recent spend­ing pat­terns that should kept in mind when pars­ing this sit­u­a­tion: MTG’s spend­ing on per­son­al secu­ri­ty jumped more than 10 fold between the last quar­ter of 2021 and the first quar­ter of 2022, with almost all of the new spend­ing going towards a Knoxville-based exec­u­tive secu­ri­ty firm. Is MTG real­ly sud­den­ly super con­cerned about her secu­ri­ty? If not, why the secu­ri­ty surge? And why did MTG’s cam­paign first hire East­man’s firm back in Sep­tem­ber and then dou­ble down in Jan­u­ary days after her over threat against Democ­rats?

    These are just some of the unset­tling ques­tions raised by MTG’s hir­ing of John East­man’s ser­vices a year after an East­man-guid­ed insur­rec­tion. On top of the ques­tions raised by the Wis­con­sin GOP’s closed door meet­ing last month where East­man implored than to for­mal­ly dele­git­imize Wis­con­sin’s 2020 elec­tion results. And on top of the gener­ic ques­tion of what the GOP has in mind now that it’s large­ly aligned itself with the MTG wing of the par­ty and embraced the pol­i­tics of insur­rec­tion:

    ABC News

    For­mer Trump lawyer, amid clash with Jan. 6 com­mit­tee, push­ing to decer­ti­fy 2020 elec­tion

    Trump has been watch­ing the decer­ti­fi­ca­tion push close­ly

    By Will Steakin, Kather­ine Faul­ders, and Lau­ra Romero
    April 11, 2022, 4:38 PM

    Just as he was emerg­ing as a top tar­get of the House com­mit­tee inves­ti­gat­ing the Capi­tol attack, for­mer Trump lawyer John East­man took a trip to Wis­con­sin.

    East­man, a right-wing lawyer who draft­ed a plan for for­mer Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to cling to pow­er by false­ly claim­ing then-Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence could reject legit­i­mate elec­tors dur­ing the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, was part of a small group of Trump allies who secured a pri­vate meet­ing last month to try and con­vince the Repub­li­can leader of the Wis­con­sin state Assem­bly to decer­ti­fy Pres­i­dent Joe Biden’s win, mul­ti­ple sources famil­iar with the meet­ing told ABC.

    On March 16, East­man and oth­ers spent near­ly two hours behind closed doors pres­sur­ing Repub­li­can Wis­con­sin Assem­bly Speak­er Robin Vos to nul­li­fy the 2020 elec­tion and reclaim the elec­tors award­ed to Biden, the sources said, which legal experts say is impos­si­ble.

    ...

    East­man in the meet­ing urged Vos to decer­ti­fy the elec­tion, sources famil­iar with the meet­ing said. Accord­ing to Jef­fer­son Davis, a Wis­con­sin activist push­ing to reverse Biden’s vic­to­ry who was also in the meet­ing, Trump’s for­mer lawyer pushed Vos to start “reclaim­ing the elec­tors” and move for­ward with “either a do over or hav­ing a new slate of elec­tors seat­ed that would declare some­one else the win­ner.”

    Fol­low­ing pub­li­ca­tion, Davis called to clar­i­fy part of his com­ments, telling ABC News in new state­ment that “John East­man has nev­er sug­gest­ed a do-over and did not say so in the closed meet­ing with Speak­er Vos.”

    When reached for com­ment, East­man said in a state­ment to ABC News, “By explic­it request from Speak­er Vos, that meet­ing was con­fi­den­tial, so I am not able to make any com­ment.”

    Fol­low­ing the meet­ing, Vos reit­er­at­ed his posi­tion that the 2020 elec­tion can’t be decer­ti­fied. Vos, how­ev­er, has pushed claims of wide­spread elec­tion fraud and was held in con­tempt by a judge last month for fail­ing to turn over doc­u­ments relat­ed to a Repub­li­can-led inves­ti­ga­tion he had launched him­self in May 2021 into the 2020 elec­tion.

    ...

    The Wis­con­sin meet­ing is just one instance among many in an ongo­ing effort by East­man and oth­er Trump allies who, even 15 months into Pres­i­dent Joe Biden’s tenure, have con­tin­ued to push for the results of the 2020 elec­tion to be over­turned despite no evi­dence of wide­spread vot­er fraud.

    In Feb­ru­ary, East­man also joined lead­ers of Colorado’s elec­tion denial cam­paign, hold­ing an “emer­gency town hall meet­ing” in Cas­tle Rock. The meet­ing, orga­nized by FEC Unit­ed founder Joe Olt­man, ral­lied the crowd against Sec­re­tary of State Jen­na Gris­wold, false­ly accus­ing her of par­tic­i­pat­ing in an elec­tion fraud con­spir­a­cy.

    Dur­ing the meet­ing, East­man boast­ed about his involve­ment in elec­tion law­suits in Texas, Penn­syl­va­nia, Geor­gia and Wis­con­sin and decried the “attacks” that he and oth­ers who push elec­tion con­spir­a­cies have expe­ri­enced, call­ing it “pure evil,” accord­ing to a video of the meet­ing post­ed by FEC Unit­ed.

    East­man has said he attend­ed a gath­er­ing of Trump sup­port­ers at the Willard Hotel on Jan. 5, 2021 and spoke before Trump at the “Save Amer­i­ca” ral­ly the next day. East­man also has said pub­licly that he, along with oth­er Trump allies, had a so-called “war room” set up at the hotel for sev­er­al days pre­ced­ing and on Jan. 6.

    Trump has been watch­ing the decer­ti­fi­ca­tion push close­ly, say­ing in a state­ment last month fol­low­ing the Wis­con­sin meet­ing that “Speak­er Vos should do the right thing and cor­rect the Crime of the Century—immediately! It is my opin­ion that oth­er states will be doing this, Wis­con­sin should lead the way!”

    The for­mer pres­i­dent has been in con­tact with mul­ti­ple peo­ple in Wis­con­sin work­ing on the effort and has received reg­u­lar updates from MyP­il­low CEO Mike Lin­dell, sources said, who has spread wild and base­less con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries about the 2020 vote count.

    Lin­dell, who remains a close con­fi­dant of the for­mer pres­i­dent, has par­tic­i­pat­ed in the Wis­con­sin pres­sure cam­paign with his own team of peo­ple includ­ing Dou­glas Frank, who was promi­nent­ly fea­tured at the My Pil­low CEO’s con­spir­a­cy-filled “Cyber Sym­po­sium” last August, Army Reserve Lt. Colonel Ivan Raik­lin, who has also worked close­ly with for­mer Lt. Gen. Michael Fly­nn to over­turn the 2020 elec­tion and Shawn Smith, a Col­orado-based activist who has called Lin­dell an “angel investor” in her orga­ni­za­tion devot­ed to “elec­tion integri­ty.”

    While Lin­dell was absent from the March 16 meet­ing, Frank, Raik­lin and Smith attend­ed with East­man, accord­ing to sources famil­iar with the meet­ing.

    Lin­dell is cur­rent­ly fac­ing a $1.3 bil­lion law­suit from Domin­ion Vot­ing Sys­tems for pro­mot­ing false claims about their vot­ing machines. He trav­eled to Mar-a-Lago last Thurs­day to attend a fundrais­er for Ari­zona guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date Kari Lake that fea­tured the for­mer pres­i­dent.

    As East­man con­tin­ues his cam­paign to over­turn the elec­tion, he has become of greater inter­est to inves­ti­ga­tors on the Jan. 6 com­mit­tee, the pan­el has pub­licly indi­cat­ed.

    Last month, a fed­er­al judge ruled that East­man must turn over most of the doc­u­ments he has been with­hold­ing from the com­mit­tee. The pan­el has begun receiv­ing and review­ing the doc­u­ments, accord­ing to sources.

    The judge, who reviewed the doc­u­ments pri­vate­ly, said that Trump “more like­ly than not” com­mit­ted felony obstruc­tion in the effort to over­turn the elec­tion.

    East­man and oth­ers con­tin­ue to push to decer­ti­fy Pres­i­dent Joe Biden’s 2020 vic­to­ry in Wis­con­sin despite mul­ti­ple recounts, court fil­ings and audits fail­ing to iden­ti­fy any wide­spread fraud in the bat­tle­ground state.

    Last month, a review by The Asso­ci­at­ed Press found that only 24 peo­ple out of 3.3 mil­lion who cast bal­lots in the 2020 elec­tion have been charged with elec­tion fraud in the state.

    Sim­i­lar reviews and audits in oth­er states includ­ing Geor­gia and Ari­zona have also failed to sub­stan­ti­ate claims about wide­spread elec­tion fraud.

    ———-

    “For­mer Trump lawyer, amid clash with Jan. 6 com­mit­tee, push­ing to decer­ti­fy 2020 elec­tion” by Will Steakin, Kather­ine Faul­ders, and Lau­ra Romero; ABC News; 04/11/2022

    On March 16, East­man and oth­ers spent near­ly two hours behind closed doors pres­sur­ing Repub­li­can Wis­con­sin Assem­bly Speak­er Robin Vos to nul­li­fy the 2020 elec­tion and reclaim the elec­tors award­ed to Biden, the sources said, which legal experts say is impos­si­ble.”

    A two hour long closed door meet­ing pres­sur­ing the Wis­con­sin GOP to over­turn the 2020 elec­tion. That actu­al­ly hap­pened less than a month ago. The lie can­not be allowed to die:

    ...
    East­man in the meet­ing urged Vos to decer­ti­fy the elec­tion, sources famil­iar with the meet­ing said. Accord­ing to Jef­fer­son Davis, a Wis­con­sin activist push­ing to reverse Biden’s vic­to­ry who was also in the meet­ing, Trump’s for­mer lawyer pushed Vos to start “reclaim­ing the elec­tors” and move for­ward with “either a do over or hav­ing a new slate of elec­tors seat­ed that would declare some­one else the win­ner.”

    Fol­low­ing pub­li­ca­tion, Davis called to clar­i­fy part of his com­ments, telling ABC News in new state­ment that “John East­man has nev­er sug­gest­ed a do-over and did not say so in the closed meet­ing with Speak­er Vos.”

    When reached for com­ment, East­man said in a state­ment to ABC News, “By explic­it request from Speak­er Vos, that meet­ing was con­fi­den­tial, so I am not able to make any com­ment.”

    Fol­low­ing the meet­ing, Vos reit­er­at­ed his posi­tion that the 2020 elec­tion can’t be decer­ti­fied. Vos, how­ev­er, has pushed claims of wide­spread elec­tion fraud and was held in con­tempt by a judge last month for fail­ing to turn over doc­u­ments relat­ed to a Repub­li­can-led inves­ti­ga­tion he had launched him­self in May 2021 into the 2020 elec­tion.
    ...

    And this Wis­con­sin meet­ing was just one of the states that’s invit­ed East­man to give them a ‘Stop the Steal’ pep talk. A month ear­li­er, East­man was in Col­orado giv­ing a sim­i­lar talk:

    ...
    The Wis­con­sin meet­ing is just one instance among many in an ongo­ing effort by East­man and oth­er Trump allies who, even 15 months into Pres­i­dent Joe Biden’s tenure, have con­tin­ued to push for the results of the 2020 elec­tion to be over­turned despite no evi­dence of wide­spread vot­er fraud.

    In Feb­ru­ary, East­man also joined lead­ers of Colorado’s elec­tion denial cam­paign, hold­ing an “emer­gency town hall meet­ing” in Cas­tle Rock. The meet­ing, orga­nized by FEC Unit­ed founder Joe Olt­man, ral­lied the crowd against Sec­re­tary of State Jen­na Gris­wold, false­ly accus­ing her of par­tic­i­pat­ing in an elec­tion fraud con­spir­a­cy.

    Dur­ing the meet­ing, East­man boast­ed about his involve­ment in elec­tion law­suits in Texas, Penn­syl­va­nia, Geor­gia and Wis­con­sin and decried the “attacks” that he and oth­ers who push elec­tion con­spir­a­cies have expe­ri­enced, call­ing it “pure evil,” accord­ing to a video of the meet­ing post­ed by FEC Unit­ed.
    ...

    And East­man’s ‘Stop the Steal’ effort obvi­ous­ly isn’t some solo effort. Don­ald Trump has appar­ent­ly been close­ly fol­low­ing Wis­con­sin’s ongo­ing efforts to over­turn the elec­tion and lit­er­al­ly issued a pub­lic state­ment in sup­port of East­man’s calls for the Wis­con­sin GOP to over­turn the elec­tion right after that closed door meet­ing:

    ...
    Trump has been watch­ing the decer­ti­fi­ca­tion push close­ly, say­ing in a state­ment last month fol­low­ing the Wis­con­sin meet­ing that “Speak­er Vos should do the right thing and cor­rect the Crime of the Century—immediately! It is my opin­ion that oth­er states will be doing this, Wis­con­sin should lead the way!”

    The for­mer pres­i­dent has been in con­tact with mul­ti­ple peo­ple in Wis­con­sin work­ing on the effort and has received reg­u­lar updates from MyP­il­low CEO Mike Lin­dell, sources said, who has spread wild and base­less con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries about the 2020 vote count.

    Lin­dell, who remains a close con­fi­dant of the for­mer pres­i­dent, has par­tic­i­pat­ed in the Wis­con­sin pres­sure cam­paign with his own team of peo­ple includ­ing Dou­glas Frank, who was promi­nent­ly fea­tured at the My Pil­low CEO’s con­spir­a­cy-filled “Cyber Sym­po­sium” last August, Army Reserve Lt. Colonel Ivan Raik­lin, who has also worked close­ly with for­mer Lt. Gen. Michael Fly­nn to over­turn the 2020 elec­tion and Shawn Smith, a Col­orado-based activist who has called Lin­dell an “angel investor” in her orga­ni­za­tion devot­ed to “elec­tion integri­ty.”

    While Lin­dell was absent from the March 16 meet­ing, Frank, Raik­lin and Smith attend­ed with East­man, accord­ing to sources famil­iar with the meet­ing.
    ...

    East­man clear­ly has­n’t had trou­ble keep busy. But don’t assume he’s spend­ing all his tim­ing exclu­sive­ly focused on still try­ing to over­turn the 2020 elec­tion. AS the fol­low­ing Busi­ness Insid­er arti­cle describes, East­man has been involved in anoth­er mys­tery project. And unlike the mys­tery project in Wis­con­sin, which was­n’t actu­al­ly much of a mys­tery, this lat­est project is much more of a gen­uine mys­tery. It turns out one of East­man’s groups, the Con­sti­tu­tion­al Coun­sel Group, was paid $10,000 by Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene’s (MTG) reelec­tion cam­paign on Jan­u­ary 14 of this year.

    For what ser­vices was MTG’s reelec­tion cam­paign pay­ing East­man’s group $10k? They aren’t say­ing, but the fact that a law­suit was start­ed against MTG back in Octo­ber of 2021 to bar her from run­ning for reelec­tion over her involve­ment in the Jan­u­ary 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion gives us a hint. Then again, it also turns out that a joint fundrais­ing group put togeth­er by MTG an GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz gave this same group more than $15k between Sep­tem­ber and Decem­ber of 2021. So MTG’s pay­ment for ser­vices pro­vid­ed by East­man’s Con­sti­tu­tion­al Coun­sel Group actu­al­ly start­ed in the month before the law­suit was start­ed to pre­vent her reelec­tion. In oth­er words, despite all of the clues as to what ser­vices MTG hired East­man to pro­vide, it’s still a real mys­tery:

    Busi­ness Insid­er

    A firm tied to Trump lawyer John East­man received $10,000 from Rep. Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene’s cam­paign

    C. Ryan Bar­ber
    Apr 16, 2022, 02:45 IST

    * Rep. Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene’s cam­paign paid John East­man in Jan­u­ary for unspec­i­fied “legal ser­vices.”
    * The pay­ment was made to Con­sti­tu­tion­al Coun­sel Group, a firm found­ed by the Trump lawyer.

    Cam­paign groups affil­i­at­ed with Rep. Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene have paid thou­sands of dol­lars in recent months to the firm of John East­man, a lawyer who played a lead­ing role in for­mer Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s efforts to over­turn the 2020 elec­tion.

    Greene’s reelec­tion com­mit­tee paid $10,000 in Jan­u­ary to the Con­sti­tu­tion­al Coun­sel Group, accord­ing to a recent fed­er­al cam­paign finance dis­clo­sure. East­man lists the Ana­heim, Cal­i­for­nia address of the Con­sti­tu­tion­al Coun­sel Group in state bar records.

    In a dis­clo­sure with the Fed­er­al Elec­tion Com­mis­sion, Greene’s cam­paign com­mit­tee said it paid the Con­sti­tu­tion­al Coun­sel Group on Jan­u­ary 14 for “legal ser­vices.” But it was not the first pay­ment to East­man’s firm from a com­mit­tee tied to Greene, a Geor­gia Repub­li­can known for her incen­di­ary style and embrace of con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries.

    Put Amer­i­ca First, a joint fundrais­ing com­mit­tee run by Greene and Rep. Matt Gaetz, had pre­vi­ous­ly paid Con­sti­tu­tion­al Coun­sel Group more than $15,000 between Sep­tem­ber and Decem­ber 2021, accord­ing to Fed­er­al Elec­tion Com­mis­sion records.

    Accord­ing to those records, he remains admit­ted to the Cal­i­for­nia bar, in spite of calls for him to lose his law license over his past work for Trump. Ahead of Con­gress’ cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of the 2020 elec­tion results, East­man advised then-Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence that he could uni­lat­er­al­ly throw out states’ elec­toral counts, a move that would have blocked Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Biden’s cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of vic­to­ry and like­ly trig­gered a con­sti­tu­tion­al cri­sis.

    ...

    He stepped down as a law pro­fes­sor in the face of stu­dent protests that were fol­lowed by calls for dis­bar­ment. He came under scruti­ny from the House com­mit­tee inves­ti­gat­ing the Jan­u­ary 6 attack on the Capi­tol, land­ing in lit­i­ga­tion with the con­gres­sion­al pan­el that result­ed last month in a fed­er­al judge sum­ma­riz­ing Trump’s post-elec­tion efforts as a “coup in search of a legal the­o­ry.”

    A for­mer Supreme Court clerk for Jus­tice Clarence Thomas, East­man invoked his Fifth Amend­ment right against self-incrim­i­na­tion in response to a sub­poe­na from the spe­cial House com­mit­tee inves­ti­gat­ing Jan­u­ary 6. East­man lat­er sued the com­mit­tee in an attempt to shield emails relat­ed to his work for Trump, argu­ing they were priv­i­leged com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

    The case has since pro­vid­ed a forum for the House com­mit­tee to make some of its strongest pro­nounce­ments about Trump’s poten­tial legal lia­bil­i­ty. In a court fil­ing last month, House lawyers said the com­mit­tee had enough evi­dence to con­clude that Trump and his allies might have con­spired to com­mit fraud and obstruc­tion in their efforts to over­turn the for­mer pres­i­den­t’s loss to Joe Biden in the 2020 elec­tion.

    The House said East­man’s “legal assis­tance was used in fur­ther­ance of those activ­i­ties.”

    The fed­er­al judge over­see­ing that case lat­er said Trump “like­ly” obstruct­ed Con­gress, in a rul­ing that also ordered East­man to turn over emails to the House com­mit­tee.

    “Dr. East­man and Pres­i­dent Trump launched a cam­paign to over­turn a demo­c­ra­t­ic elec­tion, an action unprece­dent­ed in Amer­i­can his­to­ry. Their cam­paign was not con­fined to the ivory tower—it was a coup in search of a legal the­o­ry,” wrote Judge David Carter. “The plan spurred vio­lent attacks on the seat of our nation’s gov­ern­ment, led to the deaths of sev­er­al law enforce­ment offi­cers, and deep­ened pub­lic dis­trust in our polit­i­cal process.”

    It is unclear what legal ser­vices East­man’s firm pro­vid­ed to Greene’s cam­paign. But Greene has found her­self in polit­i­cal and legal per­il of late.

    In Octo­ber, the pro­gres­sive watch­dog group End Cit­i­zens Unit­ed filed com­plaints with the Fed­er­al Elec­tion Com­mis­sion and the Office of Con­gres­sion­al Ethics alleg­ing that she engages in “uneth­i­cal and ille­gal” cam­paign spend­ing and “self-serv­ing and shady prac­tices.”

    In Geor­gia, a group of vot­ers filed a con­sti­tu­tion­al chal­lenge to keep Greene from run­ning for reelec­tion on the grounds that she aid­ed the Jan­u­ary 6 insur­rec­tion. Greene respond­ed in ear­ly April with a law­suit ask­ing a fed­er­al judge to shut down the state pro­ceed­ings.

    At a recent hear­ing, Judge Amy Toten­berg said she would like­ly allow the group of Geor­gia vot­ers to move for­ward with their effort to keep Greene off the bal­lot.

    A lawyer rep­re­sent­ing Greene in that case, James Bopp Jr., told Insid­er that East­man was not involved in the mat­ter.

    Of East­man, Bopp said, “I don’t know what he’s doing.”

    ———–

    “A firm tied to Trump lawyer John East­man received $10,000 from Rep. Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene’s cam­paign” by C. Ryan Bar­ber; Busi­ness Insid­er; 04/16/2022

    Greene’s reelec­tion com­mit­tee paid $10,000 in Jan­u­ary to the Con­sti­tu­tion­al Coun­sel Group, accord­ing to a recent fed­er­al cam­paign finance dis­clo­sure. East­man lists the Ana­heim, Cal­i­for­nia address of the Con­sti­tu­tion­al Coun­sel Group in state bar records.”

    Why did Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene’s reelec­tion com­mit­tee pay John East­man’s Con­sti­tu­tion­al Coun­sel Group $10,000 just three months ago? Her cam­paign isn’t say­ing. But the fact that Greene is fac­ing a legal chal­lenge filed in Octo­ber over whether or not she is even eli­gi­ble to run for reelec­tion over her sup­port for the same Jan­u­ary 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion that John East­man helped mas­ter­mind seems like a plau­si­ble expla­na­tion:

    ...
    It is unclear what legal ser­vices East­man’s firm pro­vid­ed to Greene’s cam­paign. But Greene has found her­self in polit­i­cal and legal per­il of late.

    In Octo­ber, the pro­gres­sive watch­dog group End Cit­i­zens Unit­ed filed com­plaints with the Fed­er­al Elec­tion Com­mis­sion and the Office of Con­gres­sion­al Ethics alleg­ing that she engages in “uneth­i­cal and ille­gal” cam­paign spend­ing and “self-serv­ing and shady prac­tices.”

    In Geor­gia, a group of vot­ers filed a con­sti­tu­tion­al chal­lenge to keep Greene from run­ning for reelec­tion on the grounds that she aid­ed the Jan­u­ary 6 insur­rec­tion. Greene respond­ed in ear­ly April with a law­suit ask­ing a fed­er­al judge to shut down the state pro­ceed­ings.
    ...

    But the sit­u­a­tion isn’t that sim­ple. It was­n’t the first pay­ment to East­man’s group from an MTG-affil­i­at­ed enti­ty. The Put Amer­i­ca First joint fundrais­ing com­mit­tee run by Green and Matt Gaetz paid $15,000 to East­man’s group between Sep­tem­ber and Decem­ber of 2021. So a month before that law­suit was filed to pre­vent MTG from run­ning for reelec­tion, she and Gaetz were already pay­ing East­man for some sort of ser­vices:

    ...
    In a dis­clo­sure with the Fed­er­al Elec­tion Com­mis­sion, Greene’s cam­paign com­mit­tee said it paid the Con­sti­tu­tion­al Coun­sel Group on Jan­u­ary 14 for “legal ser­vices.” But it was not the first pay­ment to East­man’s firm from a com­mit­tee tied to Greene, a Geor­gia Repub­li­can known for her incen­di­ary style and embrace of con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries.

    Put Amer­i­ca First, a joint fundrais­ing com­mit­tee run by Greene and Rep. Matt Gaetz, had pre­vi­ous­ly paid Con­sti­tu­tion­al Coun­sel Group more than $15,000 between Sep­tem­ber and Decem­ber 2021, accord­ing to Fed­er­al Elec­tion Com­mis­sion records.
    ...

    It’s a mys­tery. But as the fol­low­ing Dai­ly Beast arti­cle points out, that $10k pay­ment to East­man’s group on Jan 14 did­n’t hap­pen in vac­u­um. Just three days ear­li­er, MTG went on the radio show of Sebas­t­ian Gor­ka and explained to the audi­ence how Democ­rats were doing “exact­ly” the things that the Found­ing Fathers felt would jus­ti­fy an armed insur­rec­tion. Keep in mind that she made these com­ments three months after the law­suit over her sup­port for Jan 6 was filed. So three days after MTG goes on a far right radio show to make a pro-insur­rec­tion state­ment, her reelec­tion cam­paign pays East­man’s group $10k for mys­tery ser­vices.

    But there’s anoth­er mys­tery described in the arti­cle: the mys­tery of MTG’s explod­ing per­son­al secu­ri­ty costs. Costs that were essen­tial­ly free in 2020 thanks to the Oath Keep­ers. It does­n’t sound like those free Oath Keep­er ser­vices were still being offered in 2021, and yet it does­n’t sound like MTG had enor­mous secu­ri­ty needs, hav­ing aid just $12k in the fall of 2021. And then, in the first three months of 2022, MTG sud­den­ly start­ed pay­ing Knoxville-based exec­u­tive secu­ri­ty firm KaJor Group $140k. Why the dra­mat­ic surge in secu­ri­ty? MTG’s cam­paign sug­gests it’s relat­ed to increased secu­ri­ty threats but it’s hard to see why those con­cerns jumped 10 fold all of a sud­den. And that’s why the mys­tery over that $10k pay­ment to East­man’s Con­sti­tu­tion­al Coun­sel Group is part of a larg­er mys­tery of what exact­ly MTG is up to now that she’s being sued over her insur­rec­tionary activ­i­ties:

    The Dai­ly Beast

    Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene Reports Her First Fundrais­ing Loss

    Rep. Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene (R‑GA) has been one of the biggest fundrais­ers for Repub­li­cans in the House. But to kick off 2022, she actu­al­ly spent more than she took in.

    Roger Sol­len­berg­er
    Polit­i­cal Reporter
    Pub­lished Apr. 15, 2022 11:13PM ET

    The cam­paign com­mit­tee for Rep. Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene (R‑GA) report­ed its first-ever net loss on Fri­day, post­ing a $314,000 deficit over the first three months of 2022 while addi­tion­al­ly revis­ing pre­vi­ous con­tri­bu­tion totals down by more than $100,000.

    About half of that loss is rep­re­sent­ed in fees to Don­ald Trump’s top Jan. 6 attor­ney and a secu­ri­ty detail that pro­tect­ed Kyle Rit­ten­house dur­ing his tri­al last year.

    While Greene has always trad­ed steep fees for slight­ly high­er returns, she’s always man­aged to come out on top—until now.

    Last quar­ter she sprung a hole in the buck­et, as her cam­paign com­mit­tee, Greene for Con­gress, spent about $1.38 mil­lion while tak­ing in only $1.06 mil­lion in dona­tions. Fundrais­ing costs alone wiped out three-quar­ters of those receipts.

    Greene has deployed expen­sive dig­i­tal fundrais­ing oper­a­tions in the past, and reports have dinged her for it, point­ing out that the fees give the lie to an inflat­ed small-dol­lar con­tri­bu­tion stream.

    Last quar­ter, how­ev­er, MAGAworld’s lead­ing lady bet big on direct mail, sink­ing more than $400,000 into print­ing, postage, and asso­ci­at­ed expens­es. When that mon­ey was added to con­sult­ing, list rental, and dig­i­tal fees, Greene for Con­gress spent more than $735,000 on its fundrais­ing efforts.

    To make mat­ters worse, the same day the cam­paign filed its new report, it also filed three amend­ed ver­sions of pre­vi­ous reports from last year, admit­ting that the com­mit­tee had over­stat­ed con­tri­bu­tions by more than $100,000. The cam­paign cur­rent­ly holds about $3 mil­lion in cash on hand, which rep­re­sents a net gain of about $900,000 over the last 12 months.

    Greene also spent big else­where this year, most specif­i­cal­ly for per­son­al secu­ri­ty, rack­ing up about $140,000 in expens­es. Almost all of that went in three month­ly pay­ments to a Knoxville-based exec­u­tive pro­tec­tion com­pa­ny called the KaJor Group, which also han­dled secu­ri­ty for Kenosha shoot­er Kyle Rit­ten­house dur­ing his tri­al last year.

    For Greene, who pri­or to the 2020 elec­tion had received pro­tec­tion free of charge from mem­bers of the Oath Keep­ers anti-gov­ern­ment mili­tia group, this is an extra­or­di­nary surge in secu­ri­ty costs.

    Last year, it was most­ly Democ­rats who took advan­tage of the Fed­er­al Elec­tion Commission’s post-insur­rec­tion rul­ing that elect­ed offi­cials can hire body­guards with cam­paign funds. That year, Sens. Raphael Warnock, Jon Ossoff, and Mark Kel­ly shelled out hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars for per­son­al pro­tec­tion, while Greene for Con­gress report­ed pro­tec­tive expens­es just north of $12,000, near­ly half of it for an elec­tron­ic secu­ri­ty sys­tem. That’s less than 10 per­cent of what she paid the Kajor Group last quar­ter.

    It’s not imme­di­ate­ly clear why Greene hired the new firm. Asked about the expens­es, which first appeared in late Jan­u­ary, a cam­paign spokesper­son told The Dai­ly Beast, “I’m not going to get into details about her secu­ri­ty due to the sen­si­tive nature of it.”

    The spokesper­son did, how­ev­er, cite an uptick in threats to the con­gress­woman, includ­ing the arrest last month of a New York man who had made threat­en­ing calls to Greene’s D.C. office.

    “Our staff has report­ed over 20 threats to Capi­tol Police in the past week,” the spokesper­son said in a text mes­sage, along with a link to Greene’s response to a con­tro­ver­sial recent seg­ment on Jim­my Kim­mel Live.

    The spokesper­son added that Greene also received “a sig­nif­i­cant amount” of threats in Jan­u­ary, sur­round­ing the one-year anniver­sary of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capi­tol.

    Iron­i­cal­ly enough, many of Greene’s own col­leagues blame that attack par­tial­ly on her rhetoric, which they say empow­ers vio­lent ele­ments of the right wing.

    A few days after the Jan. 6 anniver­sary, Greene sug­gest­ed using guns to defend against Democ­rats.

    “Ulti­mate­ly, the truth is it’s our Sec­ond Amend­ment rights, our right to bear arms, that pro­tects Amer­i­cans and gives us the abil­i­ty to defend our­selves from a tyran­ni­cal gov­ern­ment,” Greene told right-wing talk host Seb Gor­ka on Jan. 11. “And I hate to use this lan­guage, but Democ­rats, they’re exact­ly ... they’re doing exact­ly what our Founders talked about when they gave us the pre­cious rights that we have.”

    Rita Katz, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the SITE Intel­li­gence Group, which tracks extrem­ist groups, told The Hill that those com­ments car­ry weight.

    “Some law­mak­ers are indeed a source of threats. Com­ments from fig­ures like Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene are reg­u­lar­ly shared and con­vert­ed into ral­ly­ing cries for some seg­ments of the far-right,” Katz said.

    Greene appears to have extend­ed her ties to Jan. 6 in more ways than one.

    Three days after her Sec­ond Amend­ment remarks, the Greene cam­paign hired Trump legal advis­er John East­man, lay­ing down a $10,000 retain­er for his firm, the Con­sti­tu­tion­al Coun­sel Group, on Jan. 14.

    ...

    —————

    “Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene Reports Her First Fundrais­ing Loss” by Roger Sol­len­berg­er; The Dai­ly Beast; 04/15/2022

    Three days after her Sec­ond Amend­ment remarks, the Greene cam­paign hired Trump legal advis­er John East­man, lay­ing down a $10,000 retain­er for his firm, the Con­sti­tu­tion­al Coun­sel Group, on Jan. 14.”

    It’s quite a coin­ci­dence: just days after the 1 year anniver­sary of the Jan 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion, MTG goes on Sebas­t­ian Gorka’s radio show and alludes to the need to shoot Democ­rats. And it was­n’t like a round­about allu­sion to shoot­ing Democ­rats. As MTG put it, “they’re doing exact­ly what our Founders talked about when they gave us the pre­cious rights that we have.” She did­n’t mince words. Three days lat­er, she pays $10k to East­man’s group. And this was all three months after the fil­ing of a law­suit to stop her reelec­tion bid on the grounds that she sup­port­ed the insur­rec­tion:

    ...
    Iron­i­cal­ly enough, many of Greene’s own col­leagues blame that attack par­tial­ly on her rhetoric, which they say empow­ers vio­lent ele­ments of the right wing.

    A few days after the Jan. 6 anniver­sary, Greene sug­gest­ed using guns to defend against Democ­rats.

    “Ulti­mate­ly, the truth is it’s our Sec­ond Amend­ment rights, our right to bear arms, that pro­tects Amer­i­cans and gives us the abil­i­ty to defend our­selves from a tyran­ni­cal gov­ern­ment,” Greene told right-wing talk host Seb Gor­ka on Jan. 11. “And I hate to use this lan­guage, but Democ­rats, they’re exact­ly ... they’re doing exact­ly what our Founders talked about when they gave us the pre­cious rights that we have.

    Rita Katz, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the SITE Intel­li­gence Group, which tracks extrem­ist groups, told The Hill that those com­ments car­ry weight.

    “Some law­mak­ers are indeed a source of threats. Com­ments from fig­ures like Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene are reg­u­lar­ly shared and con­vert­ed into ral­ly­ing cries for some seg­ments of the far-right,” Katz said.
    ...

    And right around this time, MTG’s per­son­al secu­ri­ty expen­di­tures sud­den­ly explod­ed, with near­ly $140k spent on the ser­vices of a Knoxville-based exec­u­tive pro­tec­tion com­pa­ny. That’s more than 10 times than the $12k her cam­paign spent ser­vices in the pri­or quar­ter. Part of that sud­den explo­sion in secu­ri­ty costs can be explained by the fact that MTG was get­ting pro­tec­tion free of charge from the Oath Keep­ers dur­ing the 2020 elec­tion. Recall the appar­ent cen­tral role the Oath Keep­ers played in the insur­rec­tionary coup plot, with a “Quick Reac­tion Force” wait­ing for the orders to deliv­er heavy weapons to the insur­rec­tion­ists at the Capi­tol.

    But even if MTG was get­ting free Oath Keep­er pro­tec­tion in 2020, that still does­n’t quite explain the sud­den surge in secu­ri­ty costs that took place between the last quar­ter of 2021 and the first quar­ter of 2022. Based on these reports it sounds like MTG has already lost her free Oath Keep­er pro­tec­tion in 2021 and yet was only pay­ing $12k for secu­ri­ty ser­vices in the last quar­ter of 2021. So why did the costs of those ser­vices sud­den­ly jump for than 10-fold between the last quar­ter of 2021 and the first quar­ter of 2022?

    ...
    Greene also spent big else­where this year, most specif­i­cal­ly for per­son­al secu­ri­ty, rack­ing up about $140,000 in expens­es. Almost all of that went in three month­ly pay­ments to a Knoxville-based exec­u­tive pro­tec­tion com­pa­ny called the KaJor Group, which also han­dled secu­ri­ty for Kenosha shoot­er Kyle Rit­ten­house dur­ing his tri­al last year.

    For Greene, who pri­or to the 2020 elec­tion had received pro­tec­tion free of charge from mem­bers of the Oath Keep­ers anti-gov­ern­ment mili­tia group, this is an extra­or­di­nary surge in secu­ri­ty costs.

    Last year, it was most­ly Democ­rats who took advan­tage of the Fed­er­al Elec­tion Commission’s post-insur­rec­tion rul­ing that elect­ed offi­cials can hire body­guards with cam­paign funds. That year, Sens. Raphael Warnock, Jon Ossoff, and Mark Kel­ly shelled out hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars for per­son­al pro­tec­tion, while Greene for Con­gress report­ed pro­tec­tive expens­es just north of $12,000, near­ly half of it for an elec­tron­ic secu­ri­ty sys­tem. That’s less than 10 per­cent of what she paid the Kajor Group last quar­ter.
    ...

    An explo­sion of secu­ri­ty spend­ing along with $10k to John East­man’s group months after MTG is sued over her sup­port of the insur­rec­tion. Are they con­nect­ed? MTG’s cam­paign isn’t say­ing. Nei­ther is East­man. But it’s sure hard to avoid sus­pi­cions. Espe­cial­ly now that we know John East­man is still attempt­ing to foment a new GOP con­sti­tu­tion­al rebel­lion in states like Wis­con­sin at the same time MTG con­tin­ues to appeal to con­ser­v­a­tive audi­ences for a sec­ond insur­rec­tion. There’s no short­age of ques­tions loom­ing over John East­man’s activ­i­ties. Ques­tions like to whom is he advis­ing about the next insur­rec­tion and what exact­ly is that advice? Ques­tions that we might get answer to even­tu­al­ly, whether we like it or not.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 16, 2022, 4:06 am
  18. Just how slimy is the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy’s slime machine? That’s the big ques­tion raised by the fol­low­ing pair of arti­cles about two dif­fer­ent CNP ‘oppo­si­tion research’ oper­a­tions. One report­ed on a cou­ple of weeks ago and the oth­er a cou­ple years ago. And both with a track record of ped­dling bogus and rather cru­el smears against nom­i­nees and cur­rent staffers in gov­ern­ment posi­tions.

    And, intrigu­ing­ly, both of these CNP-asso­ci­at­ed ‘oppo­si­tion research’ oper­a­tions involve the oppo­si­tion research teams that were work­ing for the Ted Cruz cam­paign in 2016. Recall how one of the most mys­te­ri­ous ‘oppo­si­tion research’ activ­i­ties dur­ing 2015–2016 was all the dif­fer­ent GOP-affil­i­at­ed teams search­ing for Hillary Clin­ton’s hacked emails. We were told they believed the emails had already been hacked and were float­ing around on the dark web, although it was nev­er clear if that was just a pre­text for hir­ing some­one to do the hack­ing.

    It turns out one of those teams search­ing for Hillary’s emails — the team involv­ing Bar­bara Ledeen, Newt Gin­grich, and Judi­cial Watch — has quite a bit of over­lap with one of these CNP-dom­i­nat­ed oppo­si­tion research projects, first report­ed on back in Feb­ru­ary of 2020. Recall how Judi­cial Watch’s Pres­i­dent, Tom Fit­ton, is a mem­ber of the CNP. As we’ll see, while Bar­bara Ledeen and her hus­band Michael Ledeen aren’t one the CNP’s mem­ber­ship list, Bar­bara is a mem­ber of the Groundswell week­ly meet­ing group and she was very much a part of this Groundswell ‘oppo­si­tion research’ oper­a­tion. Recall how Gin­ni Thomas — con­ser­v­a­tive activist, CNP mem­ber, and wife of Supreme Court Jus­tice Clarence Thomas — co-found­ed the Groundswell group along with fel­low CNP mem­ber Steve Ban­non back in 2013 — and packed it with CNP mem­bers — to serv­er as a com­peti­tor to Grover Norquist’s influ­en­tial Wednes­day meet­ings as a key con­ser­v­a­tive orga­niz­ing tool.

    The Feb­ru­ary 2020 NY Times report is an exam­ple of just how suc­cess­ful those influ­ence ped­dling efforts ulti­mate­ly were. The ‘oper­a­tion research’ project was led by Gin­ni Thomas and tar­get­ing Trump White House staffers the net­work has iden­ti­fied as need­ing to be replaced. Trump staffers grum­bled in the report that the net­work seemed to be most­ly just inter­est­ed in get­ting admin­is­tra­tion jobs for its mem­bers. Thomas had been oper­at­ing as a kind of ves­sel for Groundswell through­out the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, but it was after the first impeach­ment of Trump in the Sen­ate that Trump start­ed tak­ing Groundswell’s staffing deci­sion very seri­ous­ly, includ­ing send­ing White House staff to the week­ly Groundswell meet­ings which where host­ed by Judi­cial Watch.

    Bar­bara Ledeen’s role in this oper­a­tion involved pass­ing ‘oppo­si­tion research’ on the tar­get­ed staffers to the Trump White House. Research that was demon­stra­bly bogus in many cas­es. This turns out to be a major theme in these reports.

    The oth­er CNP-led ‘oppo­si­tion research’ project was just cov­ered in a recent New York­er piece by Jane May­er involv­ing a shad­ow­ing new orga­ni­za­tion called the Amer­i­can Account­abil­i­ty Foun­da­tion (AAF). The group claims non-prof­it char­i­ta­ble sta­tus, assert­ing that it will only engage in non-par­ti­san oppo­si­tion research in order to keep this sta­tus. As a results, the donors are kept anony­mous under the US’s dark mon­ey laws.

    What we do know about the AAF is that it was co-found­ed by a well known fig­ure in the con­ser­v­a­tive oppo­si­tion research com­mu­ni­ty: Tom Jones. Jones’s past work includes serv­ing on the staff of CNP mem­ber Jim DeMint. In 2016, Jones worked on oppo­si­tion research for Ted Cruz’s cam­paign. Keep in mind that Bar­bara and Michael Ledeen were Ted Cruz back­ers in 2016 dur­ing the GOP pri­ma­ry. Both were list­ed on Cruz’s Jew­ish lead­er­ship team back in Feb­ru­ary 2016. It rais­ing the obvi­ous ques­tion: Was Jones aware of the ‘oppo­si­tion research’ being done by Ledeen and Judi­cial Watch on the dark web at the time? How about the ear­ly Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca work done for the Cruz cam­paign? That’s cer­tain­ly oppo­si­tion-research-relat­ed. Was Jones aware of it? It’s just one of the many intrigu­ing ques­tions involv­ing this net­work that we’ll prob­a­bly nev­er get answered.

    The AAF co-founder, Math­ew Buck­ham, worked for the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. His father, Ed Buck­ham, is Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene’s Chief of Staff. Yep.

    Here’s the CNP con­nec­tion to the AAF: in its 2021 IRS fil­ings done to get tax exempt sta­tus, the AAF states that its exist­ing “in care of” a dif­fer­ent orga­ni­za­tion: The Con­ser­v­a­tive Part­ner­ship Insti­tute (CPI). As we’ve seen, the CPI is not just the employ­er of Cle­ta Mitchell — the CNP mem­ber who has long played a key role in for­mu­lat­ing the GOP’s anti-vot­ing rights legal the­o­ries and was instru­men­tal in Trump’s efforts to over­turn the 2020 elec­tion — but it’s also now the employ­er of Trump’s final Chief of Staff Mark Mead­ows and con­tin­ues to push anti-vot­ing ini­tia­tives along with CNP mem­bers J Chris­t­ian Adams and Ken­neth Black­well. Mead­ow’s son Blake also has CPI ties. The CPI also list­ed the AAF on its IRS forms, but when reporters went to the CPI’s address and request­ed the finan­cial dis­clo­sure forms on the AAF that non-prof­it enti­ties are required to pro­duce, the CPI claimed it knew noth­ing about the AAF. So it’s just the kind of gaslight­ing dark mon­ey bad faith song and dance we’ve come to expect from this net­work.

    But that gaslight­ing is being tak­en to new lev­els of cru­el­ty in the ‘oppo­si­tion research’ being lev­eled against vir­tu­al­ly every Biden nom­i­nee as part of the AAF mis­sion. It real­ly is every nom­i­nee. And we got a big exam­ple of the AAF’s pow­er to gin up ‘oppo­si­tion research’ when the AAF spear­head­ed the right-wing smear cam­paign against Joe Biden’s Supreme Court nom­i­nee Judge Kitan­ji Jack­son Brown, absurd­ly por­tray­ing her as an ally of child sex offend­ers. It was gross, and as Jane Mey­er reports, it was typ­i­cal for the kind of smear tac­tics the AAF has been using against Biden nom­i­nees.

    And as we’re going to see, while the AAF’s smears may be base­less, they’ve suc­ceed­ed in block­ing a num­ber of nom­i­nees, in part by pro­vid­ing a bogus pre­text for mem­bers of con­gress to with­hold their sup­port. Which is a reminder that the big les­son here is that the CNP keeps con­struct­ing these shad­owy smear net­works that prop­a­gate mali­cious lies with impuni­ty because it works. For­tune favors the shame­less­ly ruth­less in con­tem­po­rary US pol­i­tics:

    The New York­er

    The Slime Machine Tar­get­ing Dozens of Biden Nom­i­nees

    In an esca­la­tion of par­ti­san war­fare, a lit­tle-known dark-mon­ey group is try­ing to thwart the President’s entire slate.

    By Jane May­er
    April 16, 2022

    Dur­ing the autos-da-fé that now pass for Supreme Court con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings in the U.S. Sen­ate, it’s com­mon for sup­port­ers of a nom­i­nee to dis­miss attacks from the oppos­ing par­ty as mere par­ti­san­ship. But, dur­ing the recent hear­ings for Ketan­ji Brown Jack­son, Andrew C. McCarthy—a Repub­li­can for­mer fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tor and a promi­nent legal com­men­ta­tor at Nation­al Review—took the unusu­al step of denounc­ing an attack from his own side. When Repub­li­can sen­a­tors, includ­ing Josh Haw­ley and Mar­sha Black­burn, began accus­ing Jack­son of hav­ing been a dan­ger­ous­ly lenient judge toward sex offend­ers, McCarthy wrote a col­umn call­ing the charge “mer­it­less to the point of dem­a­goguery.” He didn’t like Jackson’s judi­cial phi­los­o­phy, but “the impli­ca­tion that she has a soft spot for ‘sex offend­ers’ who ‘prey on chil­dren’ . . . is a smear.”

    In the end, the attacks failed to dimin­ish pub­lic sup­port for Jack­son, and her poised respons­es to ques­tion­ing helped secure her nom­i­na­tion, by a vote of 53–47. But the fierce cam­paign against her was con­cern­ing, in part because it was spear­head­ed by a new con­ser­v­a­tive dark-mon­ey group that was cre­at­ed in 2020: the Amer­i­can Account­abil­i­ty Foun­da­tion. An explic­it pur­pose of the A.A.F.—a polit­i­cal­ly active, tax-exempt non­prof­it char­i­ty that doesn’t dis­close its backers—is to pre­vent the approval of all Biden Admin­is­tra­tion nom­i­nees.

    While the hear­ings were tak­ing place, the A.A.F. pub­licly took cred­it for uncov­er­ing a note in the Har­vard Law Review in which, they claimed, Jack­son had “argued that America’s judi­cial sys­tem is too hard on sex­u­al offend­ers.” The group also tweet­ed that she had a “soft-on-sex-offend­er” record dur­ing her eight years as a judge on the Unit­ed States Dis­trict Court for the Dis­trict of Colum­bia. As the Wash­ing­ton Post and oth­er out­lets stat­ed, Jackson’s sen­tenc­ing his­to­ry on such cas­es was well with­in the judi­cial main­stream, and in line with a half-dozen judges appoint­ed by the Trump Admin­is­tra­tion. When Jack­son defend­ed her­self on this point dur­ing the hear­ings, the A.A.F. said, on Twit­ter, that she was “lying.” The group’s allegation—reminiscent of the QAnon con­spir­a­cy, which claims that lib­er­al élites are abus­ing and traf­fick­ing children—rippled through con­ser­v­a­tive cir­cles. Tuck­er Carl­son repeat­ed the accu­sa­tion on his Fox News pro­gram while a chy­ron declared “jack­son lenient in child sex cas­es.” Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene, the extrem­ist rep­re­sen­ta­tive from Geor­gia, called Jack­son “pro-pedophile.”

    Mud­sling­ing is hard­ly new to Amer­i­can pol­i­tics. In 1800, a cam­paign sur­ro­gate for Thomas Jef­fer­son called Jefferson’s oppo­nent, John Adams, “her­maph­ro­dit­i­cal”; Adams’s sup­port­ers pre­dict­ed that if Jef­fer­son were elect­ed Pres­i­dent he would unleash a reign of “mur­der, rob­bery, rape, adul­tery and incest.” Nei­ther the Demo­c­ra­t­ic nor Repub­li­can Par­ty is above reproach when it comes to engag­ing in calum­ny, and since at least 1987, when Pres­i­dent Ronald Rea­gan unsuc­cess­ful­ly nom­i­nat­ed Robert Bork to be a Jus­tice, the fights over Supreme Court nom­i­nees have been espe­cial­ly nasty. Yet the A.A.F.’s approach rep­re­sents a new esca­la­tion in par­ti­san war­fare, and under­scores the grow­ing role that secret spend­ing has played in deep­en­ing the polar­iza­tion in Wash­ing­ton.

    Rather than attack a sin­gle can­di­date or nom­i­nee, the A.A.F. aims to thwart the entire Biden slate. The obstruc­tion­ism, like the Repub­li­can block­ade of Biden’s leg­isla­tive agen­da in Con­gress, is the end in itself. The group hosts a Web site, bidennoms.com, that dis­plays the pho­tographs of Admin­is­tra­tion nom­i­nees it has tar­get­ed, as though they were hunt­ing tro­phies. And the A.A.F. hasn’t just under­mined nom­i­nees for Cab­i­net and Court seats—the kinds of promi­nent peo­ple whose records are usu­al­ly well known and well defend­ed. It’s also gone after rel­a­tive­ly obscure, sub-Cab­i­net-lev­el polit­i­cal appointees, whose pub­lic pro­files can be eas­i­ly dis­tort­ed and who have lit­tle entrenched sup­port. The A.A.F., which is run by con­ser­v­a­tive white men, has par­tic­u­lar­ly focussed on block­ing women and peo­ple of col­or. As of last month, more than a third of the twen­ty-nine can­di­dates it had pub­licly attacked were peo­ple of col­or, and near­ly six­ty per cent were women.

    Among the nom­i­nees the group boasts of hav­ing suc­cess­ful­ly derailed are Saule Omaro­va, a nom­i­nee for Comp­trol­ler of the Cur­ren­cy, and Sarah Bloom Raskin, whom Biden named to be the vice-chair for super­vi­sion of the Fed­er­al Reserve Board. David Chip­man, whom the Pres­i­dent want­ed to run the Bureau of Alco­hol, Tobac­co, Firearms and Explo­sives, and David Weil, Biden’s choice for the Wage and Hour Divi­sion of the Depart­ment of Labor, both saw their nom­i­na­tions founder in the wake of A.A.F. attacks. Cur­rent­ly, the group is wag­ing a neg­a­tive cam­paign against Lisa Cook, who, if con­firmed, would become the first Black woman to serve on the Fed­er­al Reserve’s Board of Gov­er­nors.

    Tom Jones, the A.A.F.’s founder and exec­u­tive direc­tor, is a long­time Belt­way oper­a­tive spe­cial­iz­ing in oppo­si­tion research. Records show that over the years he has worked for sev­er­al of the most con­ser­v­a­tive Repub­li­cans to have served in the Sen­ate, includ­ing Ron John­son, of Wis­con­sin; Ted Cruz, of Texas; Jim DeMint, of South Car­oli­na; and John Ensign, of Neva­da, for whom Jones was briefly a leg­isla­tive direc­tor. In 2016, Jones ran the oppo­si­tion-research effort for Cruz’s failed Pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. When I asked Jones for an inter­view, through the A.A.F.’s online por­tal, he replied, “Ms. Mey­ers . . . Go pound sand.” Cit­ing an arti­cle that I had writ­ten debunk­ing attacks on Bloom Raskin from mon­eyed inter­ests, includ­ing the A.A.F., he said, “You are a lib­er­al hack mas­querad­ing as an inves­tiga­tive journalist—and not a very good one.” Jones sub­se­quent­ly post­ed this com­ment on his group’s Twit­ter account, along with my e‑mail address and cell-phone num­ber.

    ...

    In inter­views with right-wing media out­lets, Jones hasn’t been shy about his inten­tions. Last April, he told Fox News, which called A.A.F.’s tac­tics “con­tro­ver­sial,” that his group wants to “take a big hand­ful of sand and throw it in the gears of the Biden Admin­is­tra­tion,” mak­ing it “as dif­fi­cult as pos­si­ble” for the Pres­i­dent and his allies on Capi­tol Hill “to imple­ment their agen­da.” When asked why his group was both­er­ing to attack sub-Cab­i­net-lev­el appointees, he explained that peo­ple in “that sec­ond tier are real­ly the folks who are going to do the day-to-day work imple­ment­ing the agen­da.”

    Last year, an A.A.F. mem­ber infil­trat­ed a Zoom train­ing ses­sion for con­gres­sion­al staffers about the ethics rules sur­round­ing earmarks—pet spend­ing projects that law­mak­ers write into the fed­er­al bud­get. The infil­tra­tor asked lead­ing ques­tions dur­ing the meet­ing and then post­ed a record­ing of it online. The attempt­ed sting back­fired: noth­ing incrim­i­nat­ing was said, and the A.A.F.’s under­hand­ed tac­tics became the sto­ry. Evan Hol­lan­der, then the spokesman for the House Appro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee, told The Hill that, “for a group that pur­ports to con­cern itself with ethics, using fake iden­ti­ties, mis­rep­re­sent­ing them­selves as Con­gres­sion­al staff and sur­rep­ti­tious­ly record­ing meet­ings is hyp­o­crit­i­cal in the extreme.”

    Jones made no apolo­gies. He told Fox News, “I’m nev­er doing any­thing ille­gal. But just because it’s impo­lite to log into an ear­mark-train­ing sem­i­nar and offend the morals of Capi­tol Hill staff, that’s not going to stop me from doing it.” He added, “If I’ve got to trail some­one on the ground to find out what they’re doing, I’m total­ly going to do it. Because peo­ple who are mak­ing deci­sions need to have this information—they need to under­stand who they are trust­ing with the reins of gov­ern­ment. And some­times that means we will use unortho­dox meth­ods.”

    Lib­er­al and con­ser­v­a­tive polit­i­cal groups habit­u­al­ly scru­ti­nize a promi­nent nominee’s record or per­son­al life in search of dis­qual­i­fy­ing faults. But the A.A.F. has tak­en the prac­tice to extremes, repeat­ed­ly spin­ning neg­li­gi­ble tid­bits or dubi­ous hearsay into damn­ing nar­ra­tives. The group recent­ly deployed its unortho­dox meth­ods, Politi­co has report­ed, while “des­per­ate­ly pur­su­ing dirt” on Lisa Cook, the nom­i­nee for the Fed­er­al Reserve. Cook, who has been a tenured pro­fes­sor of eco­nom­ics and inter­na­tion­al rela­tions at Michi­gan State Uni­ver­si­ty since 2013, has attract­ed bipar­ti­san sup­port. Glenn Hub­bard, the chair of the Coun­cil of Eco­nom­ic Advis­ers dur­ing the George W. Bush Admin­is­tra­tion, has said, “Cook’s tal­ents as an eco­nom­ic researcher and teacher make her a good nom­i­nee for the Fed, adding to diver­si­ty of per­spec­tives about pol­i­cy.” In col­lege, Cook won a Mar­shall Schol­ar­ship. She sub­se­quent­ly obtained a Ph.D. in eco­nom­ics from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley, taught at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Gov­ern­ment, and served as a staff econ­o­mist on Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s Coun­cil of Eco­nom­ic Advis­ers. She also held appoint­ments at the Nation­al Bureau of Eco­nom­ic Research and at var­i­ous region­al Fed­er­al Reserve banks. The A.A.F., though, has por­trayed her as unqual­i­fied, and sug­gest­ed that her tenure at Michi­gan State is unde­served.

    On April 13th, Jones sent out the lat­est of at least three e‑mail blasts from the A.A.F. to about fifty of Cook’s col­leagues at Michi­gan State. In the most recent of these mes­sages, which were obtained by The New York­er, Jones said that Cook “did not war­rant” tenure. Through a Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion Act request, the A.A.F. obtained records show­ing that the school’s provost had grant­ed Cook full pro­fes­sor­ship in 2020, over­rul­ing a deci­sion not to give her that title the pre­vi­ous year. Jones sent these per­son­nel records to dozens of Cook’s col­leagues, and asked, “Are any of you con­cerned that . . . she’s not good enough to sit on the Fed­er­al Reserve Board?” He urged any detrac­tors to “not hes­i­tate to” con­tact him. Mean­while, Jones fished for fur­ther infor­ma­tion by post­ing a mes­sage on an anony­mous online gos­sip forum, Eco­nom­ics Job Mar­ket Rumors, which has been decried by one promi­nent econ­o­mist as “a cesspool of misog­y­ny.”

    Some of the A.A.F.’s attacks on Cook car­ried racial over­tones. Cook had made dona­tions to bail funds for impov­er­ished crim­i­nal defen­dants, includ­ing racial-jus­tice pro­test­ers who had been arrest­ed; she was fol­low­ing a tra­di­tion of activist lawyers in her fam­i­ly, and con­sid­ered it a form of char­i­ty. The A.A.F. argued on Twit­ter that she had made “racist com­ments” and “even bailed out riot­ers who burned down Amer­i­can cities.” Cook’s rep­u­ta­tion was sul­lied enough that the Sen­ate Bank­ing Com­mit­tee vote on her nom­i­na­tion result­ed in a tie, with no Repub­li­cans sup­port­ing her. Cook’s nom­i­na­tion can still pro­ceed to the Sen­ate floor, but her con­fir­ma­tion remains in lim­bo, as one con­ser­v­a­tive news out­let after anoth­er repeats the A.A.F.’s talk­ing points. A writer for the Dai­ly Caller, Chris Brunet, said in a Sub­stack col­umn that Cook is a “ran­dom econ­o­mist at Michi­gan State Uni­ver­si­ty who has shame­less­ly lever­aged her skin col­or and gen­i­talia into gain­ing the back­ing of sev­er­al key White House offi­cials.” Brunet tweet­ed proud­ly that his cri­tique had been pro­mot­ed on Fox News by Tuck­er Carl­son.

    The A.A.F.’s treat­ment of Cook has been mild com­pared with what sev­er­al oth­er Biden nom­i­nees have gone through. Late last year, Saule Omarova—a lead­ing aca­d­e­m­ic in the field of finan­cial reg­u­la­tion, who is a law pro­fes­sor at Cor­nell and holds doc­tor­ates in law and polit­i­cal science—withdrew her name from con­sid­er­a­tion as Biden’s Comp­trol­ler of the Cur­ren­cy. She did so, she told me, because an oppo­si­tion-research cam­paign against her, which the A.A.F. took cred­it for, had, among oth­er things, false­ly por­trayed her as a secret com­mu­nist.

    Born in Kaza­khstan, in what was then the Sovi­et Union, Omaro­va received an under­grad­u­ate degree from Moscow State Uni­ver­si­ty, but she became a nat­u­ral­ized Amer­i­can cit­i­zen in 2005. Yet, dur­ing her con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing, in a moment rem­i­nis­cent of the Joseph McCarthy era, the Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor John Kennedy, of Louisiana, declared that he didn’t know whether to call her “pro­fes­sor or com­rade.” Omaro­va replied, “Sen­a­tor, I am not a com­mu­nist. I do not sub­scribe to that ide­ol­o­gy. I could not choose where I was born.” Omarova’s résumé is hard­ly anti-cap­i­tal­ist: she worked at the cor­po­r