White House Appears to Be Consulting on Legislative and Judicial Policy Issues With Far Right Wing Christian Activists
Trump administration officials met with about 100 Christian evangelical leaders in a series of three meetings at the White House last week, as part of the president’s Faith Leadership Initiative.Â These meetings follow a prayer meeting with PresidentÂ Trump and Vice President Pence in the Oval Office just a few weeks ago, which included a laying on of hands by Christian pastors. That day, July 10, included some of America’s most anti-gay Christian activists, likeÂ Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and former GOP Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. They spent a good portion of that day in the White House.
But last week’s meetings, according to a report in the Christian Post Tuesday, did not include the same anti-LGBT activists, but others.
The “White House Office of Public Liaison expanded its evangelical outreach by inviting faith leaders who have not yet been involved in previous meetings with the administration to voice their concerns and thoughts,” the report states.
Jordan Easley, the senior pastor of theÂ Englewood Baptist Church in Tennessee who attended at least one meeting,Â posted these photos to Twitter, includingÂ one of Jared Kushner meeting some of the attendees.
â€” Jordan Easley (@jordaneasley) July 27, 2017
“The White House has continued to have listening sessions with evangelical leaders and they had three more this week. Almost 100 evangelicals [participated],” Johnnie Moore, a public relations executive who serves many in the evangelical community, and informally advises President Trump and the White House on matters of the Christian faith, told the Christian Post.
It was a productive & helpful few days. https://t.co/4e2WHtwDIG
â€” Johnnie Moore Ù† (@JohnnieM) July 31, 2017
“Each listening session was about two hours and involved briefings from administration officials and an opportunity for folks to express their thoughts on various issues.”
Apparently, the Trump White House is consulting with Christian faith leaders on matters of legislative and judicial policy.
According to Moore, the listening sessions included quick briefings on various issues from officials in White House’s legislative and judicial affairs departments. Most of the meetings, Moore added, consisted of open-table discussions between the leaders with White House officials in the room taking notes.
Moore saysÂ he expects more of these sessions.
“They want this to be people’s house and they want to make sure there is no problem getting in touch with them and expressing points of view and those points of view are taken into account,” he told the CP.Â
NCRM could find no reports of the Trump White House hosting meetings between senior administration officials and, say, liberal Christian pastors, people of the Islamic faith, LGBT activists, or Black Lives Matter, for example.
Among the participants in last week’s meetings were “California evangelist Greg Laurie, social conservative radio host and apologist Michael Brown and former Southern Baptist Convention presidents Jack Graham and Ronnie Floyd,” CP reports.Â “Moore told CP that Anne Graham Lotz, an evangelist and daughter of Billy Graham, was present for at least one of the meetings. Florida televangelist Paula White, one of Trump’s most trusted faith advisers, also participated.”
Brown is an anti-LGBT activist who in 2011 claimed LGBT people want to put Christians “in jail.” And Floyd, the former president of the 16-million memberÂ Southern Baptist Convention, in 2015Â said, on marriage, “the Supreme Court of the United States is not the final authority.”
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Democrats Discredit GOP Claims on IVF as Republicans Try to Regain Ground After Fallout
One week after the Alabama State Supreme Court ruled frozen human embryos are “children,” causing several medical institutions to pause their in-vitro fertilization (IVF) programs, Alabama and the GOP have seen tremendous nationwide anger, upset, and confusion from the left and the right over the decision, the Christian nationalist chief judge, and the Republican Party that set this in motion.
Now, GOP lawmakers and political groups are trying to regain ground after some Republicans quickly embraced the decision that, as White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre predicted Tuesday, would cause “exactly the type of chaos that we expected when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and paved the way for politicians to dictate some of the most personal decisions families can make.”
“As a reminder,” Jean-Pierre added, “this is the same state whose attorney general threatened to prosecute people who help women travel out of state to seek the care they need.”
President Joe Biden condemned the Alabama ruling: “The disregard for women’s ability to make these decisions for themselves and their families is outrageous and unacceptable.”
But U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) cheered his state’s Supreme Court, while appearing to not fully grasp what IVF is.
“I was all for it,” he said of the Alabama Supreme Court ruling, calling young people “our number one commodity.”
But when pressed, Tuberville declared, “I’d have to look at the entire bill, how it’s written, I have not seen it,” referring not to legislation but the ruling.
And when told that women will now not be able to have IVF treatments, Tuberville repeatedly replied it was “unfortunate.”
“Oh…my…God.” Morning Joe hosts gobsmacked by clueless Alabama Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville twisting himself into knots. (Video: MSNBC) pic.twitter.com/huTuksbnuV
— Mike Sington (@MikeSington) February 23, 2024
On Thursday night, speaking to a group of religious broadcasters, Donald Trump denounced the Alabama ruling and vowed to protect IVF. On Friday, the beleaguered Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) issued a memo directing Republicans to defend IVF. Also Friday, the Attorney General for the state of Alabama, mentioned earlier by the White House Press Secretary, effectively suggested he would ignore the state supreme court’s ruling, promising to not prosecute IVF families, as ABC News reported.
But Democrats are making clear that despite whatever claims or promises Republicans make, the IVF ruling is the direction conservatives are taking the Republican Party.
“First Republicans banned abortions so women couldn’t terminate a pregnancy. Now they are coming for IVF so women can’t begin a pregnancy. The GOP agenda is about one thing: government control of women,” observed U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) (photo).
CNN congressional correspondent Lauren Fox reports a new NRSC memo “instructs [GOP] candidates to reject clearly and concisely government attempts to restrict access to IVF.”
Just hours later, Sen. Murphy responded, saying, “umm the chairman of the NRSC sponsored the bill to ban IVF.”
He added, “newsflash: no matter what they tell their candidates to pretend, when they get power they use it to control women.”
The NRSC’s goal is to help get Republicans elected to the U.S. Senate. It is chaired by Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, a MAGA Republican and member of the Senate’s Pro-Life Caucus.
As Bloomberg’s Matthew Yglesias notes, Senator Daines is an original co-sponsor of the Life at Conception Act.
Steve Daines, who is advising GOP candidates to say they don’t want to ban IVF, co-sponsored an IVF ban. pic.twitter.com/r4jpD32ViA
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) February 23, 2024
The Center for American Progress’ Colin Seeberger adds, Daines “quite literally has been a longtime co-sponsor of the Lifetime at Conception Act, which would establish legal protections for the unborn just as the Alabama Supreme Court ordered and has led to the suspension of fertility care across AL.”
Meanwhile, Media Matters’ Matthew Gertz notes that the “text of GOP‘s most recent platform claims that ‘the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed’ and calls for a constitutional amendment that would ban all abortions — and jeopardize IVF — by granting 14th Amendment rights to fetuses.”
Indeed, as The New York Times reported, far-right Christian conservative Tony Perkins, head of the Southern Poverty Law Center-designated anti-LGBTQ extremist group Family Research Council, called the Alabama Supreme Court ruling a “beautiful defense of life and the Alabama Constitution.”
Friday afternoon Donald Trump followed up his vow to protect IVF with a social media post that claims in part, “Under my leadership, the Republican Party will always support the creation of strong, thriving, healthy American families. We want to make it easier for mothers and fathers to have babies, not harder! That includes supporting the availability of fertility treatments like IVF in every State in America. Like the OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of Americans, including the VAST MAJORITY of Republicans, Conservatives, Christians, and Pro-Life Americans, I strongly support the availability of IVF for couples who are trying to have a precious baby.”
Former Obama senior advisor Dan Pfeiffer responded, asking: “Why would anyone believe this? In 2016, Trump pledged no cuts to Medicaid and then spent four years trying to gut the program.”
And as Axios reports, “House Democrats’ main super PAC is promising to pour money into attacking Republicans on fertility treatments in the wake of a controversial, first-of-its-kind Alabama Supreme Court ruling, Axios has learned.”
“Trump’s call came a day after President Biden’s re-election campaign blamed him for the ruling, noting his appointment of conservative justices to the Supreme Court, which overturned Roe v. Wade,” Axios adds. “House Majority PAC, in a memo set to be released Friday, listed nearly a dozen current and former House Republicans in competitive districts who have co-sponsored at least one version of the Life at Conception Act between 2021 and 2023.”
In new memo obtained by CNN, NRSC instructs its candidates to reject clearly and concisely government attempts to restrict access to IVF pic.twitter.com/kZR5LqRt5p
— Lauren Fox (@FoxReports) February 23, 2024
See the social media posts and video above or at this link.
Why Was GOP’s Star Witness Re-Arrested? He May Have Been Trying to Flee the Country: Report
The re-arrest of Alexander Smirnov, the former FBI informant who allegedly may have provided House Republicans with Kremlin propaganda that was the basis for their efforts to impeach President Joe Biden and attack his son Hunter, raised some eyebrows on Thursday.
Smirnov, once considered House Republicans’ Jim Comer and Jim Jordan’s star witness, was re-arrested even after a magistrate judge ordered him released, and at his attorneys’ offices, raising eyebrows from even national security experts, insisting there had better be a good reason for it.
Now, according to a noted legal expert, it appears there was.
“A California judge seems to be suggesting [Smirnov’s] lawyers are complicit in his efforts to flee, in a remarkable line ordering detention for the FBI source whose lies propelled Biden impeachment efforts,” writes professor of law and MSNBC legal contributor Joyce Vance, a former U.S. Attorney.
U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright II in his order wrote on Thursday: “It has come to this Court’s attention that counsel for defendant has sought an emergency hearing in the District of Nevada to arrange the release of Defendant Smirnov, likely to facilitate his absconding from the United States.”
After detailing Smirnov’s arrest and release, Judge Wright ordered his re-arrest, adding: “The U.S. Marshal Service is advised there is to be no deviation from this Order.”
“They did not respond to questions about the language in the judge’s order suggesting a ‘likely’ aim to ‘facilitate’ their client ‘absconding from the United States.'”
Vaccine-Laced Lettuce and Tomatoes? Tennessee GOP Lawmaker Worried
A Tennessee Republican state lawmaker says he’s worried Tennesseans might overdose on vaccines if they eat too many tomatoes.
State Rep. Scott Cepicky claims vaccines can already be added to foods like lettuce and tomatoes, and to tobacco products, so he has filed legislation to require grocery store items containing vaccines to be labeled.
“University of California Riverside has already perfected the ability to put human vaccines into our lettuce right now,” Rep. Cepicky told his fellow lawmakers Wednesday while discussing his legislation. “Also, tomatoes, has the ability to do that also per UC Berkeley. And then big tobacco, RJ Reynolds and stuff has perfected the ability to put a human vaccine in tobacco products.”
Cepicky, who has been endorsed by U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), warned, “there is no law, deeming those that when you go into a grocery store, you should know as a consumer, this head of lettuce is a head of lettuce. The head of lettuce right next week could contain a vaccine in it. All we’re saying is if it does have the vaccine in it, make sure it’s listed as a pharmaceutical so people can get the proper dosage.”
Facing some pushback from Democratic Rep. John Ray Clemmons, Cepicky went on to say, “This is more of a consumer protection bill right here, is to make sure that if you’re going in to buy tomatoes, and there’s a polio vaccine in there, that you are aware of what you’re buying has a polio vaccine. The problem you have is if it’s not treated as a pharmaceutical, being the size and difference between you and me, how many tomatoes do I have to eat to get the proper dosage versus how many tomatoes that you have to eat? And if you eat too many do you get a overdose?”
Asked if his legislation was necessity, Cepicky added, “Well, if you’d have a child that is allergic to a certain vaccine, and it’s not disclosed, when you go to buy that, that vegetable, whatever it is, and your child dies from that, I would think that having place is going to make sure that that is treated as a pharmaceutical so that the consumers know exactly what they’re buying.”
Anti-vaxers gained a foothold during the COVID pandemic, spreading false claims about vaccines. Last year the fact-checking website Snopes deemed it “false” that “mRNA from COVID-19 vaccines has entered the food supply via genetically modified plants bred to contain it or through the consumption of vaccinated livestock.”
“Claims regarding COVID-19 vaccines ‘in your salad‘ have persisted on the internet and recirculated due to misreadings or misinterpretations of several press releases or scientific research,” Snopes added, “Mike Flynn, during a September 2021 podcast appearance, referenced this research, describing it as ‘putting the vaccine in salad dressing.'”
Flynn, the former Trump U.S. national security advisor, is a far-right Christian nationalist and Trump MAGA activist.
Tennessee lawmakers voted to move Rep. Capicky’s forward.
Watch Rep. Capicky’s remarks below or at this link.
Tennessee State Rep. Scott Cepicky (R-Culleoka) defends his bill to label vaccines (?) in food:
“When you go into a grocery store, you should know … This head of lettuce is a head of lettuce, the head of lettuce right next to it could include a vaccine in it.” pic.twitter.com/Q7fd33H05D
— Heartland Signal (@HeartlandSignal) February 22, 2024
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