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.
On the morning of Jan. 6, Ginni Thomas—wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas—endorsed the protest demanding that Congress overturn the election, then sent her “LOVE” to the demonstrators, who violently overtook the Capitol several hours later. She has not posted since. pic.twitter.com/378CHMkFN5
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) January 8, 2021
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.
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.
‘Font of Misinformation’: Reporter Explains ‘Major Discrepancies’ in Texas Police Account of Uvalde Shooting
MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Friday examined the “major discrepancies” in the police account of the roughly one hour that a teenage gunman spent at the Texas elementary school where he killed at least 19 children and two teachers.
The Texas Department of Public Safety defended the response by Uvalde police, but “Morning Joe” co-host Willie Geist said the changing narrative of what happened and how officers reacted was jaw-dropping, and he asked NBC News correspondent Ken Dilanian to explain what was so troubling about the law enforcement account.
“It’s really astonishing,” Dilanian said. “Let’s remember, the Texas Department of Public Safety, which is conducting the briefings, they did not respond to this incident. Their whole job here was to investigate and find out what happened and tell the public. They’ve really been a font of misinformation, including from the head of the agency, who sat next to the governor of the state and told the world in a very confident voice that there was a school resource officer who encountered the subject as he came into the school. Then yesterday, we learned that that person didn’t exist. There was no such school resource officer.”
“Then we learn other, new information, that the shooter actually exited his grandmother’s truck, which he crashed outside the school, then fired shots at onlookers across the street, and then essentially was lingering outside the school for 12 minutes, firing shots, before he entered through an unlocked door, also new information, unimpeded, unobstructed, nobody confronted him,” Dilanian continued. “Then we learned in this new — and, again, all this information is coming from the same agency that has provided misinformation. We should take it all with a grain of salt. But according to the latest account, some local police officers, Uvalde police officers, immediately rushed in, which is what the doctrine of mass shooting says they should do. They were met with a hail of gunfire from the 18-year-old with an assault rifle, AR-15, a weapon of war. They were armed, presumably, with handguns. A couple were shot and wounded, the police are saying.”
“Victor Escalon said they made entry, didn’t make entry, retreated,” Dilanian added. “Bottom line, they were out-gunned, treated, then we have this mystery. We have this decision by the police to wait 60 minutes for a Border Patrol tactical team. There’s a lot we don’t know and don’t understand about that, so we should be a little careful. There were police inside the school, we were told, evacuating children, in other parts of the school. But the account is, somehow, the gunman had barricaded himself. They use the word ‘barricade.’ It was two adjoining classrooms.”
“Now we’re learning … that dead children were found in four separate classrooms,” he said. “That’s a thing we don’t understand but, as you know, the doctrine for police response to mass shootings really changed after Columbine. The rule now is go in with whatever force you can. This is a policy from the Texas Police Chief Association, a manual says the first two to four officers should form a team and immediately enter the building. That’s what they did initially. Then, for whatever reason, they didn’t follow up with that. They waited for essentially federal agents, a group of Border Patrol and other police who formed a team, a stack as they put it, went in with a ballistic shield in front, took fire from the shooter — incredible act of bravery — and killed the shooter. There were local police officers involved in that, we’re told. These videos we’re seeing and the accounts of parents screaming for the police to go in while they were standing outside, that has to be explained. There is just no good explanation for why they waited 60 minutes when the doctrine calls for them to go in immediately.”
Watch the video below or at this link.
Watch: Fourth Grade Student Says Uvalde Police Told Children to Yell ‘Help’ – Shooter Shot One Child Who Did
What appears to be an increasingly clear understanding of how police in Uvalde, Texas handled the Robb Elementary School mass shooting – by not going inside for at least one hour – is being made even more horrific by reported actions of police once they finally entered the school.
One fourth grade child spoke with local CBS affiliate KENS 5, describing what happened inside the school at one point.
The shooter “shot the next person’s door. We have a door in the middle. He opened it. He came in and he crouched a little bit and he said, he said, ‘It’s time to die,'” the boy told KENS 5.
“When I heard the shooting through the door, I told my friend to hide under something so he won’t find us,” the child, whose name is not being released, told KENS 5. “I was hiding hard. And I was telling my friend to not talk because he is going to hear us.”
“When the cops came, the cop said: ‘Yell if you need help!’ And one of the persons in my class said ‘help.’ The guy overheard and he came in and shot her,” the boy said. “The cop barged into that classroom. The guy shot at the cop. And the cops started shooting.”
(Transcript via KENS 5, video below appears slightly edited.)
Some have noted that since the 1999 Columbine, Colorado school shooting when 12 students and a teacher were slaughtered, police practice has been to storm the school to not give the shooter time to kill more children, and to allow those wounded to get medical attention to hopefully save more lives. That does not appear to have happened.
Presuming the child’s recollection is accurate, it appears one or more officers telling children to yell “help” may have led to at least one child being wounded or killed.
A fourth grader who survived the shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde described how it ended.
“The cop said: ‘Yell if you need help!’ And one of the persons in my class said ‘help.’ The guy overheard and he came and shot her. Then the cops barged in.”https://t.co/COaVdedhnv pic.twitter.com/A0VOrNKvye
— KENS 5 (@KENS5) May 26, 2022
CNN Reporter Refuses to Accept Texas Official’s Claims About Uvalde Shooting: ‘Why Don’t You Clear All of This Up Now?’
There is an increasing concern among legal experts, security experts, and law enforcement experts about the way police in Uvalde, Texas handled the Robb Elementary School massacre where 21 people were shot and killed, and another 17 reportedly were wounded.
Two days after the mass shooting witness accounts, photos, and videos are circulating that appear to show police waited between 40 minutes and one hour before either entering the school or confronting the shooter, who was killed not by police but by federal agents on the scene. Some are suggesting that valuable time may have led to more death.
NBC’s Kerry Sanders is reporting that one of the children lived through the shooting but died in the hospital, underscoring why it matters that police took an hour to breach that classroom.
— Ken Dilanian (@KenDilanianNBC) May 26, 2022
Law enforcement also appear to not have a grasp on exactly what happened, with numerous reports revealing some officers were focused on subduing not the gunman but parents desperate for police to take action.
A mom of two children at #Uvalde was put in handcuffs after urging police and law enforcement to enter the school.
Once freed from her cuffs, she jumped the school fence, ran inside and sprinted out with her kids.
— Peter Schorsch 🇺🇦 (@PeterSchorschFL) May 26, 2022
There are also concerns that not only police inaction may have led to more death, but police action may have as well:
A fourth grader who survived the shooting said officers assaulting the barricaded room told kids to call for help before they had incapacitated the gunman, which led to him shooting a kid who called for help https://t.co/rJP1B2hPC7 pic.twitter.com/6bHgb2risi
— Evan Hill (@evanhill) May 26, 2022
Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, a well-known MSNBC/NBC News legal analyst rightly says “we’re clearly going to have to wait” for accurate information, but notes what the public is being told “Doesn’t make sense.”
While reporting about Uvalde still feels confused & we’re clearly going to have to wait on accurate ones, this detail stands out. If there were deputy US Marshals present, why were they arresting parents? Why weren’t they launching an assault on the shooter? Doesn’t make sense. pic.twitter.com/0XPF86N9hf
— Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) May 26, 2022
One reporter apparently agreed that information being given to the public did not make sense.
CNN’s Shimon Prokupecz, who attended Thursday afternoon’s Uvalde press conference and was not ready to accept what he apparently felt was police stonewalling.
“You guys have said that he was barricaded,” Prokupecz said, referring to the shooter. “Can you explain to us how he was barricaded and why you guys cannot breach that door?”
“So, I have taken all your questions into consideration. We will be doing updates,” replied Victor Escalon, from the Texas Dept. of Public Safety, according to a Mediaite transcript. “We will be doing updates to answer those questions.”
“You should be able to answer that question now, sir,” Prokupecz, clearly not satisfied, responded.
“What is your name?” Escalon asked.
“Shimon Prokupecz from CNN. We’ve been given a lot of bad information, so why don’t you clear all of this up now and explain to us how it is that your officers who were in there for an hour, yes, rescuing people, but yet no one was able to get inside that room,” Prokupecz continued.
“Shimon, we will circle back with you. We want to give you the why. That’s our job. Give us time. I’m taking your questions back to talk to the team,” Escalon replied.
“We’ve been given a lot of bad information so why don’t you clear all of this up now and explain to us how your officers were in there for an hour but yet no one was able to get inside that room?” pic.twitter.com/VIgTazT3I9
— Acyn (@Acyn) May 26, 2022
- RIGHT WING EXTREMISM2 days ago
‘Avowed White Nationalist’ Republican Criticized as ‘Unfit for Office’ Over False Claim Shooter Was LGBTQ, Undocumented
- News1 day ago
‘I Will Find Out’: Jimmy Kimmel Questions Why Texas TV Station Cut Away From His Monologue on School Shooting
- News2 days ago
Florida Republican Levies ‘Threat’ Against Biden Over Guns After Being Investigated for Cyberintimidation
- COMMENTARY3 days ago
‘Find a Spine’: State Farm Criticized After Celebrating Pride Then Dropping Program Supporting LGBTQ Books in Schools
- RIGHT WING EXTREMISM3 days ago
Far Right Activist Behind CRT Panic Brags About Attacks on Disney, State Farm for LGBTQ Support: Others ‘Will Be Next’
- News3 days ago
Democratic Congressman Blasts ‘Baby Killer’ Ted Cruz
- RIGHT WING EXTREMISM3 days ago
Fox News Corporate Chief Shrugs Off Complaints of Network’s White Nationalism: ‘Comes With the Territory’
- BREAKING NEWS2 days ago
Duggar Gets 12 Years in Jail After Prosecutor Tells Judge He Has a ‘Violent Sexual Interest in Children’