Update: Gaffney denies the reports mentioning his involvement in Trump’s transition team.
Following a purge of advisers who were linked to former transition committee leader Chris Christie, Donald Trump’s transition team has brought in Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy “to assist on national security issues,” according to a report yesterday in the Wall Street Journal. The Washington Post mentions that Gaffney may even be a dark horse candidate for the position of CIA director.
Gaffney is by no means a mainstream security specialist. Instead, like Trump, he is a bizarre conspiracy theorist with extreme views on foreign and domestic policy.
Gaffney sees an Islamist plot to take over the country practically everywhere, believing that U2 lead singer Bono is a tool of Islamists; Tim Kaine is involved with the Muslim Brotherhood; left-wing groups, immigration services and Black Lives Matter have aligned with “Islamic supremacists”; criminal justice reform is an effort to advance “jihad”; Twitter is advancing Sharia law; and a Missile Defense Agency logo is evidence of “official U.S. submission to Islam.”
He was instrumental in launching a witch hunt against Muslim staffers in the Obama administration, particularly Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin. He referred to Abedin as an “enemy inside the wire” who “was brilliantly placed to run Islamist influence operations” in government.
Gaffney also believes that there is an Islamist attempt to seize control of the conservative movement, alleging that conservative activists like Grover Norquist and Suhail Khan are agents of the Muslim Brotherhood; blasting Sen. John McCain and then-House Speaker John Boehner for “parroting the Muslim Brotherhood line”; calling former GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel an Iranian secret agent; smearing an aide to Tennessee’s Republican governor because she is Muslim; and accusing Christie of “misprision of treason” because he appointed a Muslim lawyer to be a judge.
He proposed establishing a “House Anti-American Activities Committee” to investigate and root out the many secret Islamist agents supposedly working in public affairs.
Even the Washington Times, a conservative newspaper that used to publish Gaffney’s columns, eventually distanced itself from Gaffney, rebuking him as a “conspiracy nut.” The American Conservative Union, of which Norquist is a board member, all but called Gaffney a delusional bigot and barred him for a time from its annual Conservative Political Action Conference.
The extremism of the 2016 presidential campaign, however, gave Gaffney an opening for a comeback. Last fall, he helped to organize a rally against the Iran nuclear deal featuring Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz. In March, he was welcomed back to CPAC, and shortly afterward signed on as a national security adviser Cruz’s presidential campaign.
While Gaffney backed Cruz in the GOP primary, Trump has already done much to raise his group’s profile. Speaking at a Gaffney-led conference last year, Trump insisted that Obama had banned Christians from immigrating to America. When he proposed banning Muslims from entering the U.S., he cited a sham survey from Gaffney’s group to bolster his claim that Muslim immigrants harbor a “hatred” of America.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Trump’s transition team would tap Gaffney, as he shares with the president-elect a penchant for conspiracy theorists and a contempt for Muslims.
Gaffney, like Trump, is an adherent to the birther conspiracy theory. He has frequently suggested that President Obama is a secret Muslim and treasonous terrorist sympathizer, even comparing Obama to Osama bin Laden and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Beyond just attacking secret Islamist agents, Gaffney seems to have a problem with all Muslims, assisting one Tennessee effort to block the construction of a mosque; arguing that Muslim members of Congress are actively aiding the Muslim Brotherhood; accusing a Texas 14-year-old who was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school of aiding “civilization jihad”; attacking Muslim-Americans for simply lobbying Congress; and implicating Muslim-American doctors in a grand scheme to impose Sharia law in America. He also doubts that Islam is a religion and wants the government to prosecute Muslims who adhere to Sharia.
Gaffney and Trump also have ties with leaders of the racist alt-right; Gaffney once lavished praise on white nationalist leader Jared Taylor, which he later tried to play down.
Trump campaigned on a promise to ban all Muslims from entering the country, trafficked in bogus anti-Muslim conspiracy theories, praised a massacre of Muslim prisoners (that probably never took place) and declared that “Islam hates us” and that “virtually 100 percent” of mosques preach hate.
Although some of Trump’s allies have tried to play down some of his most extreme anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies, Gaffney’s reported role on the transition team indicates that when it comes to targeting Muslim-Americans, Trump meant everything he said.