Speaker of the House Mike Johnson will give a keynote address and receive an award at a gala being held by the National Association of Christian Lawmakers at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. The Museum of the Bible has become a base camp for right-wing Christian organizing in the nation’s capital.
The National Association of Christian Lawmakers was founded a few years ago by Jason Rapert, a former Arkansas state senator who has received a “mantle” from dominionist New Apostolic Reformation apostles Chuck Pierce and Dutch Sheets, who, like NACL leaders, want to “take authority” over government and bring American law and society in alignment with their “biblical worldview.” In June, NACL met at Liberty University, where Rapert got choked up at the idea of an NACL member one day becoming president of the United States.
The NACL has modeled itself after the American Legislative Exchange Council, which feeds its member legislators model right-wing legislation to introduce on behalf of ALEC’s corporate funders. Rapert has taken credit for anti-trans legislation signed into law by Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders in March. In a video celebrating that legislation, he said, “We are fighting against the people that are putting the queer books into your school libraries and trying to groom these children into homosexuality.” In November, Sanders appointed Rapert to serve on the state library board.
Among the other dominionists, Christian nationalists, and anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ extremists Johnson will be joining:
- Andrew Wommack will be receiving a Lifetime Christian Leadership Award at the gala Johnson is addressing. Wommack has used his Charis Bible College and Truth & Liberty Coalition as platforms for promoting Christian nationalist ideology and political organizing to take over the local public schools in Woodland Park, Colorado and then broadening their power-building plans. Wommack is vehemently anti-LGBTQ; he has declared that gay people should be required to “put a label across their forehead” declaring that homosexuality “can be hazardous to your health.” He has said that supporting transgender rights is “demonic.”
- Gene Bailey, who will emcee the gala, hosts the “FlashPoint” program on televangelist Kenneth Copeland’s Victory Network. FlashPoint is a major platform for spreading far-right conspiracy theories and pro-Trump propaganda to conservative Christian viewers. As Right Wing Watch noted in April, “’FlashPoint’ played a key role in spreading lies about the 2020 election and the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, with Bailey regularly welcoming right-wing “prophets” and evangelists like Lance Wallnau, Hank Kunneman, and Mario Murillo on to the program, where they steadfastly refuse to accept the election results.”
- Janet Porter is an anti-abortion activist and promoter of abortion-banning “heartbeat” legislation. In the lead-in to Ohio’s recent vote on a pro-choice constitutional amendment, she and her allies promoted false claims that it would abolish all limitations on abortion and tried to mobilize an anti-trans panic against the amendment. But voters overwhelmingly approved the amendment to protect reproductive choice, after which Porter began arguing that the amendment had no authority over the state’s anti-abortion laws, and urged state lawmakers to ignore voters’ wishes and strip state courts of the power to enforce the constitutional amendment.
- E. W. Jackson, a right-wing pastor and radio host who launched a farcical campaign for the presidency in June, has a long record of using his radio program to vent viciously anti-LGBTQ views. At the Family Research Council’s 2021 activist conference, Jackson lumped homosexuality, “transgenderism,” Marxism, socialism, and abortion together as “works of the devil.” At his presidential campaign kickoff, Jackson demonstrated a Trumpish disdain for the rule of law, declaring, “I don’t care what the Supreme Court says, I don’t care what the legislature says, I am not bowing down to a law that violates the law of God.”
- Frank Pavone, a longtime leader of anti-abortion Priests for Life, is a former advisory board member of Catholics for Trump who denied that Trump lost the 2020 election. Inaccurately described in NACL promotional materials as Father Frank Pavone, he was defrocked—dismissed from the priesthood—by Pope Francis last year for “blasphemous communications on social media” and “persistent disobedience” of his bishop.
- Glenn and Jenny Story are co-founders of Patriot Mobile, a cellphone company whose profits are used to fund Christian nationalist political activism, including the takeover of school boards by right-wing Christians. Earlier this year, Patriot Mobile organized an “Equip and Educate” event that featured David Barton and his son and heir apparent Tim to promote their bogus Christian nationalist pseudo-history. At the Moms for Liberty national summit this summer, the executive director of Patriot Mobile Action introduced herself this way: “My name is Leigh Wambsganss. And my pronouns are Bible believer, Jesus lover, Gun Carrier and mama bear.” Wambsganss declared, “This is a spiritual war, not a political war,” and she vowed, “we will take America back.”
- Illinois state Rep. Mary Miller claimed this year that the Biden administration is “wholly against Christian Americans.” In February, she was at the Museum of the Bible for a “National Gathering for Prayer and Repentance,” at which politicians and religious-right activists prayed that God would remove “ungodly” people from positions of authority. During her turn at the microphone, Miller lamented that we as a nation “have lost our way because we have rejected you as Creator, Lord, and Savior. Now we are adrift and foolish, calling evil good and good evil. And we are bankrupt, morally and financially.”
This article was originally published by Right Wing Watch and is republished here by permission.
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Arrested Again: Ex-FBI Informant and GOP Former Star Witness Alexander Smirnov
Alexander Smirnov, the former FBI informant who was arrested just eight days ago and charged with lying to the Bureau about Joe Biden and Hunter Biden, has again been arrested, his lawyers state in an emergency court filing Thursday.
Smirnov allegedly used Russian intelligence to smear the Bidens, falsely claiming both Joe Biden and Hunter Biden had each accepted $5 million bribes. His claims were the basis of House Republicans’ impeachment investigation into President Biden.
But as NBC News’ Tom Winter reported, it’s a “mystery,” at least for now, why Smirnov was arrested again, his lawyers say, on the same charges as the first time.
Winter says earlier today at his attorneys’ offices in Las Vegas, Nevada, “Apparently agents showed up with a valid arrest warrant out of the Central District of California and took him into custody, but according to his attorneys, it was for the same exact indictment and the same exact charges that he had been previously hit with.”
CNN adds that the warrant “this time” was “signed by federal district Judge Otis Wright, who will oversee the criminal case out of California.”
The federal government asked for Smirnov to be detained but a magistrate judge allowed him to be released last week.
Winter reports that Smirnov’s attorneys say “they would like to know why” he was re-arrested, “and there’s no indication on the docket that the judge has granted some sort of emergency motion to remand him, basically to pull him off the streets because he’s violated his agreement.”
“So a bit of a mystery at this point,” Winter adds.
CNN notes that after his first arrest, “Smirnov was released by Magistrate Judge Daniel Albregts in Nevada on Tuesday with several conditions, including GPS monitoring and the surrender of his two passports.”
Politico’s Kyle Cheney posted the arrest warrant. See it below or at this link.
JUST IN: Alexander SMIRNOV, the former FBI informant charged with feeding false info about the Bidens, has been rearrested despite a magistrate’s release order.
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) February 22, 2024
Image: Screenshot of Smirnov with his face hidden from camera view
‘Reached His Limits’: Engoron ‘Brings the Hammer Down’ on Trump Attorney
New York State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron has refused a “last ditch effort” from Donald Trump’s attorney to delay imposing the $355 million judgment in Attorney General Letitia James’ civil business fraud case against the ex-president.
“Once the judgment is officially entered, it will start the 30-day clock for Trump to file an appeal. During that period, Trump will need to put up cash or post bond to cover the $355 million and roughly $100 million in interest he was ordered to pay the state,” CNN reports.
MSNBC legal correspondent Lisa Rubin pointed to an email Judge Engoron sent Trump’s attorney Clifford Robert that reads in part, “You have failed to explain, much less justify, any basis for a stay.”
On social media Rubin notes, “Judge Engoron has reached his limits. It appears that he has signed the judgment and that all that needs to happen now is for the clerk to enter it.”
On-air at MSNBC, Rubin explained that Trump’s attorney asked Engoron “to stay the judgment without Donald Trump having to post a bond.”
Robert, according to Rubin, tried to use “a technicality in New York Civil Practice saying they should have filed a motion and they didn’t file a motion, they should have given us notice. We should have been able to counter propose our own judgment.”
Engoron, she continues, asked, “‘What exactly are you objecting to?’ And when Trump’s lawyers couldn’t articulate beyond a small but meaningful error with respect to the calculation of interest for Allen Weisselberg, that was the only real error that they identified. They couldn’t come up with anything else.”
“That’s when Engoron sort of dropped the hammer on them and said, ‘look, enough is enough. You have given me no reason for a stay.”
Rubin notes that at this point, “We’re just waiting for the clerk to start that 30 day clock.”
Nikki Haley Just Laid the Groundwork to Endorse Donald Trump
Down in the polls by double digits, former Trump UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, who recently took off the kid gloves and has been battering her Republican opponent Donald Trump, just laid the groundwork to endorse the man she calls “unstable and unhinged,” by labeling President Joe Biden “more dangerous.”
“I think what’s really important is to know that the majority of Americans dislike Donald Trump and Joe Biden,” Haley told NPR’s Steve Inskeep in remarks that aired Thursday (audio below). “So we think that there needs to be an alternative.”
“While critical of both men — who she called ‘too old’ to be president — she said ‘Biden is more dangerous’ due to his management of immigration and the economy,” NPR reports. “Haley hinted that, if Biden and Trump were to face a rematch, she would back Trump if he wins the Republican presidential nomination.”
Trump, despite facing 91 criminal felony charges and civil judgments totaling possibly more than a half-billion dollars (including accruing interest,) is beating Haley, the former South Carolina governor. FiveThirtyEight‘s national polling average puts Trump at 77.7% and Haley at 16.4%. Even in her home state, Donald Trump is trouncing Nikki Haley, 63% to 35% in one recent poll, and 63% to 34% in another.
Haley did beat the one-term twice-impeached four-times indicted ex-president in January fundraising, a feat some strategists say will allow her to stay in the race longer.
Haley is going directly after Trump, and “launched her sharpest attack yet Tuesday, describing him as getting ‘more unstable and unhinged,'” AFP reported.
“He’s getting meaner and more offensive by the day,” she added. “He’s completely distracted, and everything is about him. He’s so obsessed with his demons in the past that he can’t focus on the future Americans deserve.”
She did not stop there.
“It’s not normal to spend $50 million dollars in campaign contributions on personal court cases,” Haley told supporters. “It’s not normal to threaten people who back your opponent, and it’s not normal to call on Russia to invade NATO countries.”
And yet, despite promising her base she will stay in the race even after South Carolina, and despite attacking Trump, Haley is now paving the way to endorse her former boss.
“I have a lot of concerns about Trump regaining the presidency. I have even more concerns about Joe Biden being president. I mean, you look at both of these men and all they have done is given us chaos, all they have given us is division,” Haley told NPR. “We need to starting bringing normalcy back to America and that’s why I think we need to have a new generational leader that focuses on the solutions of the future instead of all the issues of the past.”
Haley “compared the ex-president to a ‘bully,’ and stressed that he failed to obtain significant portions of the electorate in Iowa and New Hampshire.
“People don’t like when he goes off the teleprompter and says crazy things like he’d rather take Putin’s side over our allies,” she said. “People don’t like it when he mocks the military. People don’t like it when he calls people names.”
Some think an endorsement from Haley for Donald Trump won’t come.
“Haley endorsing Trump would be career ending for her. MAGA will never support her now. You can’t staddle this. You are either Trump or Never Trump. There is no middle ground between Liz Cheney and Donald Trump,” says former Washington State lawmaker and former state GOP chair Chris Vance, who opposes Donald Trump and describes himself as “a politically homeless Never Trump Conservative.”
Listen to Haley’s remarks to NPR below or at this link.
Image: Haley and Trump in 2020.
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