Connect with us

News

Ginni Thomas, Wife of the Supreme Court Justice, Helped Advance the Election Disinformation Campaign – Here’s How

Published

on

Before Trump loyalists stormed the Capitol building on Jan. 6, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas took to Facebook in the early morning hours that Wednesday; there she urged people to tune into the so-called Stop the Steal rally held on the grounds of the White House. “LOVE MAGA people!!!!” she posted, adding minutes later, “GOD BLESS EACH OF YOU STANDING UP or PRAYING.”

Though her affinity for caps-lock commentary may suggest otherwise, Ginni Thomas is an influential right-wing activist respected in conservative politics. The wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, she has made her own mark on the Republican Party with lofty positions at Turning Point USA, the Heritage Foundation, The Daily Caller, and the Council for National Policy, a highly secretive organization whose members include some of the most powerful conservatives and right-wing players in the country.

Respected though she may be in conservative circles, Ginni Thomas’ connection to extremists is nothing new. In 2010, she led Liberty Central, a think tank she founded to appeal to Tea Party supporters and to serve as the connective tissue between “Tea Party groups and the new citizen activists,” as she claimed in a 2010 interview. That group’s sponsors included the Gun Owners of America—a radical alternative to the NRA—and its gun-rights extremist leader Larry Pratt, who addressed white supremacists at a 1992 gathering in Colorado and appeared to call for war against the U.S. government in 2010. The far-right Catholic group Tradition, Family and Property, known for being virulently anti-LGBTQ, anti-woman, and anti-democratic, was also linked to Ginni Thomas’ think tank from its inception.

Ginni Thomas’ zeal for the Stop the Steal campaign and its followers, a mob of whom would later storm the Capitol in an act of domestic terrorism, is notable in and of itself—her husband sits on the highest court, after all—but it’s also disconcerting for another reason: She is the latest in a string of Council for National Policy members—and an authoritative voice at that—who has supported the Stop the Steal movement.

Since the inception of this latest incarnation of the Stop the Steal campaign on Nov. 4 by lead organizer Ali Alexander, who himself was a member as recently as 2017, according to membership rolls obtained by the watchdog group Documented, it has received support from CNP members. In fact, the tacit support of key CNP members for challenging the 2020 presidential election results may have been the impetus for Alexander’s decision to begin the campaign to overturn the results of the presidential election by peddling disinformation.

Formed during the Reagan administration, CNP holds closed-door meetings and instructs members to not discuss the council’s work or its membership, though, over the years, membership rolls have been leaked to the press. Those rolls have shown the organization to be home to a couple hundred marquee names in the conservative movement, Christian right, and right-wing fringe: Current members include Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch and Tony Perkins of the religious-right Family Research Council; former members include Trump’s former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.

The CNP has a close relationship with the Trump White House—so much so, that at the superspreader Rose Garden event to celebrate the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, “there were more Council for National Policy members present there than there were members of the White House staff and members of Congress combined,” said Anne Nelson, author of the “Shadow Network: Media, Money, and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right,” a book about the CNP. And on the eve of the Republican National Convention, Trump gave a big speech to the Council for National Policy, calling it as his “flagship address,” a rare public event for the council, Nelson said.

Nelson describes the CNP’s main role as providing “coordination, rather than direction” to its members, which include executives of such right-wing outlets the Salem Media Group and The Daily Caller. Ginni Thomas, Nelson points out, is on the board of governors of CNP Action, the lobbying arm of the secretive organization. In May 2019, Thomas and Trump lawyer Cleta Mitchell provided an update on the Conservative Action Project, CNP’s 501(c)(4) arm that holds weekly meetings, and laid out their strategy for the coming year with a slide presentation to CNP members, which included messaging about building a robust infrastructure on the right and protecting Trump.

In the days leading up to the Jan. 6 mayhem, and on the day itself, the connection between CNP and Stop the Steal—and the campaign’s influence on the White House—became more apparent.

On Dec. 30, Right Wing Watch posted a report about a letter sent by the Conservative Action Project to Senate Republicans urging them to “contest the electoral votes” from “Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Arizona”—the battleground states Biden won. That letter may have not mentioned Stop the Steal by name, but it asked senators to do exactly what Stop the Steal was demanding of Republican members of Congress: to reject electoral votes in favor of Biden.

Those signees included Cleta Mitchell, Trump’s lawyer (who was on the infamous phone call when Trump asked that Georgia Secretary of State Raffensperger “find 11,780 votes”); Tom Fitton, an CNP executive committee member whose Judicial Watch group constantly spouts voter fraud conspiracy theories; Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots and columnist for The Washington Times; Tony Perkins, former CNP president and leader of the Family Research Council; Kenneth Blackwell, former Ohio secretary of state and member of CNP Action’s board of directors; and William L. Walton, current CNP president. All were revealed as CNP members in a leak of CNP’s September 2020 membership directory.

A Dec. 10 letter posted on the Conservative Action Project website, reported by Alex Kotch at Exposed by CMD, asked state legislatures in battleground states to “exercise their plenary power under the Constitution and appoint clean slates of electors to the Electoral College to support President Trump,” and that the House and Senate only recognize the electors of those states that do so. Again, this was the same demand state legislators and Congress members were hearing from Stop the Steal activists. Kotch reports that the letter links to a document that, according to metadata embedded in the file, was created by none other than Cleta Mitchell, calling for a “constitutional remedy” to reject votes for Biden. The signatories included some of the same names that appeared on the Dec. 30 letter, in addition to Ed Martin, a leading Stop the Steal organizer and CNP member whom Alexander has thanked for his “mentorship” in organizing the Stop the Steal campaign.

Two days before the Jan. 6 rally, CNP member Charlie Kirk, who leads the youth-oriented group Turning Point USA, shared a video from Women for America First’s Kylie Jane Kremer advertising the rally and told his followers that his organizations, TPUSA and Students for Trump, had funded more than 80 buses to attend the rally. “The historic event will likely be one of the largest and most consequential in American history,” Kirk wrote. “The team at @TrumpStudents & Turning Point Action are honored to help make this happen, sending 80+ buses full of patriots to DC to fight for this president,” he said in the since deleted tweet, uncovered by Daily Dot. Kirk’s Students for Trump co-chair is Ryan Fournier, a Stop the Steal organizer who spoke at the Jan. 5 rally on the same stage where speakers advocated rebellion.

While a viral claim that Ginni Thomas funded the buses herself appears to be false, Ginni Thomas has been linked to the group in the recent past, serving on Turning Point USA’s advisory council in 2019, along with fellow CNP members Foster Friess, Adam Brandon, and former Ohio congressman Bob McEwen.

On Jan. 5, speakers took to Freedom Plaza for a Stop the Steal rally designed to prime attendees for the big day. Among the speakers was Peter Navarro, a fringe right-wing economist who spoke at the May 2019 CNP meeting. and who serves as an assistant to the president and director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy. On the stage at Freedom Plaza, Navarro peddled voter fraud conspiracy theories and urged activists to stay angry, declaring to the assembled crowd, “We will take this back.”

On Jan. 6, Ginni Thomas told her Facebook followers to watch the event convened by groups working in concert with the Stop the Steal campaign, dubbed the “Save America Rally,” on the right-wing Right Side Broadcasting, one of the few networks to cover the gathering. The massive rally, at which Trump would incite his supporters to bring their wrath to the Capitol, was led by the groups March for Trump and the Kremers’ Women for America First.

Amy Kremer, who was listed as a member in a 2014 CNP membership directory obtained by the Southern Poverty Law Center, was among the first speakers. Jenny Beth Martin, the CNP executive committee secretary whom Trump thanked in his speech to CNP this summer, was another. She brought with her Simone Gold, who is now sought by the FBI after she appeared to be part of the crowd that stormed the Capitol following her speech on the main stage, as seen on social media.

After the Capitol insurrection, Ginni Thomas either deactivated or deleted her Facebook account, likely unhappy that reporters noted her enthusiasm for a movement what would launch a riot. Josh Hawley, one of the senators who led the charge to contest electors’ votes in the Senate, charged ahead even as other lawmakers backed off in light of the violent consequences wrought by the disinformation campaign designed to delegitimize the outcome of the presidential election. “Shadow Network” author Nelson noted that, throughout his career, Hawley was groomed by CNP affiliates.

The Stop the Steal disinformation campaign wouldn’t have gotten off the ground without CNP support. When on Nov. 4, Ali Alexander floated the idea of rebooting the Stop the Steal campaign, which in its prior iteration was focused on the outcome of the 2018 mid-term elections, baselessly claiming that the election had been stolen from Trump, he called on key CNP members including Tom Fitton, Amy Kremer, Ed Martin, and Charlie Kirk.

“Because Ali Alexander is a fairly veteran operative, he managed to get a lot of people on board very quickly,” ​said Stephanie Lamy, a French information warfare researcher with the advocacy groupDanaides. “Although he was a fairly marginal actor, he managed to have a big reach because he knew which people to rely on. And that was a lot of the CNP.”

Once he began to be successful, Lamy said, the White House seemed to have taken note.

Right Wing Watch reported about CNP members’ connection to Stop the Steal on Nov. 13—the same day Vice President Mike Pence was set to address CNP attendees in Virginia. CNP convened that meeting, Nov. 12-14, “to strategize on how to challenge the election results,” according to Exposed by CMD reporter David Armiak. At the meeting, a panel dedicated to the election results and the ensuing legal battles featured Cleta Mitchell, J. Christian Adams, a known voter suppressor who leads the Public Interest Legal Foundation, and the Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky, a leading proponent of the voter fraud myth.

The following day, Stop the Steal organizers held the first of three major rallies in Washington, D.C., with speakers peddling disinformation and violent rhetoric on the main stage—a day that ended in violent skirmishes between Proud Boys and counterprotesters, foreshadowing the violence to come.

“Most people don’t realize that disinformation has an aim, and that aim is to have real life impact. So what we saw with Stop the Steal, it had a real-life impact as of the 6th of November [the date of one of the first Stop the Steal rallies], and it kind of culminated with these terrorist threats and a breach of the Capitol,” said Lamy, the French disinformation researcher. “And it’s still ongoing,” she continued. “The CNP hasn’t finished manipulating anger and personal grievances.”

 

This article was originally published at Right Wing Watch and is republished here by permission.

Continue Reading
Click to comment
 
 

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. The New Civil Rights Movement depends on readers like you to meet our ongoing expenses and continue producing quality progressive journalism. Three Silicon Valley giants consume 70 percent of all online advertising dollars, so we need your help to continue doing what we do.

NCRM is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. From unflinching coverage of religious extremism, to spotlighting efforts to roll back our rights, NCRM continues to speak truth to power. America needs independent voices like NCRM to be sure no one is forgotten.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure NCRM remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to NCRM, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

News

‘Sociopath Party’: Morning Joe Panel Horrified by Chance of Trump-Greene ‘Crackpot’ Ticket

Published

on

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is reportedly angling to become Donald Trump’s running mate — or possibly even president herself — and panelists on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” are worried.

The second-term Georgia Republican has tried to rebrand herself as a liaison between the Republican Party’s establishment and its right-wing fringes, but the show’s co-host Mika Brzezinski said Greene couldn’t escape her controversial reputation so quickly.

“Marjorie Taylor Greene, I will just put my marker down right here and say this is a potential reality unless people get their heads on straight,” Brzezinski said.

Guest George Conway agreed the firebrand lawmaker would only make Trump worse as his running mate.

“I mean, in a way she’s perfect — Trump-Greene ’24, a crack in every pot,” Conway said. “This will be the sociopath party ticket. She absolutely would play to his worst instincts and play to the worst elements of the Republican base. I think it would turn off the center of the electorate, but at the same time, I don’t think it’s going to be serious that she would get this because Trump cannot take someone as a vice president who’s going to potentially upstage him. That’s why Mike Pence was so perfect for him.”

“Pence was, you know, so much of a cipher,” Conway added. “He drank water when President Trump drank water at a meeting. He would basically nod and agree with what Trump said up until that day on Jan. 6, which could have been prevented if we had a vice president with a spine who had conceded the election as it should have been conceded long before then. So I don’t think it’s a realistic possibility, but the fact that we’re even talking about it is horrific.”

 
Image: L.E.MORMILE / Shutterstock

Continue Reading

News

Watch: Santos Shuts Door on Reporters, Says ‘No Comment’ on $500,000 ‘Personal’ Loan After Amending FEC Report

Published

on

U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-NY) is continuing his campaign of obfuscation, just one day after amending his campaign finance report telling the Federal Elections Commission on Tuesday the half-million dollars he claimed to have personally loaned his campaign was not actually from his personal funds.

Calling it a “tense exchange,” CNN’s Manu Raja reports Santos “would not explain to us why he amended his public filings to show that $500K from his contributions did not come from his personal funds.”

“Sir — let’s make it very clear: I don’t amend anything, I don’t touch any of my FEC stuff, right?” Santos said, berating the press.

Adding again that the embattled freshman New York Republican “refused to explain source of money,” Raju adds Santos told him, “don’t be disingenuous and report that I did because you know that every campaign hires fiduciaries.”

READ MORE: Marjorie Taylor Greene’s ‘Whole Vision’ Is to Be Trump’s Vice President: Report

“’So, I’m not aware of that answer and we’ll have an answer for the press regarding the amendments in yesterday’s’ filing,” Santos said,

CBS News’ Cristina Corujo posted video of Congressman Santos telling reporters, “no comment,” and “I have no clue on what you are talking about ma’am,” when asked about the $500,000 loan and amended FEC report.

On Tuesday, The Daily Beast reported that “Santos’ political operation filed a flurry of amended campaign finance reports, telling the feds, among other things, that a $500,000 loan he gave to his campaign didn’t, in fact, come from his personal funds as he’d previously claimed.”

READ MORE: Watch: Pope Francis Says Homosexuality Is ‘A Sin’ But Not ‘A Crime’

Some say that might be a crime.

Pointing to a New York Post article on Santos’ $500,000 FEC correction, former CNBC and Fox News contributor Julie Roginsky says, “This is de facto admission by George Santos of a crime. Candidates for federal office may loan or gift campaigns unlimited personal money. Everything else is limited to a few thousand dollars per donor and all of it must be disclosed on FEC paperwork.”

Watch the video of Santos above or at this link.

Continue Reading

News

Marjorie Taylor Greene’s ‘Whole Vision’ Is to Be Trump’s Vice President: Report

Published

on

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has one singular goal: becoming Donald Trump’s vice president. The far-right Georgia Republican has gone from chasing a young mass shooting survivor and anti-gun violence activist around the streets of Washington, D.C., to a Congresswoman stripped of her committees after revelations she said the Democratic Speaker of the House was “guilty of treason,” which she noted is “a crime punishable by death,” to one of the most powerful Republicans in Congress.

NBC News reports Greene “is angling to be Donald Trump’s running mate in 2024,” citing two sources, including far right extremist and former top Trump advisor Steve Bannon.

“This is no shrinking violet, she’s ambitious — she’s not shy about that, nor should she be,” Bannon said of Greene. “She sees herself on the short list for Trump’s VP. Paraphrasing Cokie Roberts, when MTG looks in the mirror she sees a potential president smiling back.”

READ MORE: ‘I Can Speak From Personal Experience’: Just Two Weeks Ago Pence Called for Special Counsel for Biden Classified Docs

Another source “who has advised Greene said her ‘whole vision is to be vice president.’ The source, who has ties to Trump but spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations, said he also believes Greene would be on Trump’s short list.”

Bannon, who was convicted on two criminal contempt of Congress charges, which he is appealing, says Greene is “both strategic and disciplined — she made a power move, knowing it would run up hard against her most ardent crew,” referring to far right House Republicans.

“She was prepared to take the intense heat/hatred short-term for the long-term goal of being a player.”

READ MORE: Watch: Top Trump Ally Lindsey Graham Defends Biden In Classified Docs Probe

Earlier this month The Daily Beast reported, “Donald Trump’s campaign has pretty much been asleep since he announced. But that isn’t stopping him or his confidants from gaming out a vice-presidential pick,” noting all the names being floated are women.

Among them, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat turned independent, and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.

“Greene’s positioning within Trump’s inner circle has only prospered in the former president’s post-presidential tenure bunkering down at Mar-a-Lago,” The Daily Beast observed. “She has become a fixture at his MAGA rallies, with the congresswoman often lingering in the press pen to give exclusive interviews to Right Side Broadcasting, a YouTube channel that streams the rallies in their entirety to an audience of 1.57 million subscribers.”

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2020 AlterNet Media.