President Donald Trump met with two representatives of groups that lobby for bigoted anti-immigrant policies at the White House this month, The New York Times reports.
Frank Gaffney of the anti-Muslim hate group Center for Security Policy and Rosemary Jenks of the anti-immigrant group NumbersUSA joined Rep. Louie Gohmert’s chief of staff Connie Hair in a meeting with Trump and a handful of White House aides. During the meeting, multiple comments were put forward to the president that many Americans would find offensive, including claims that gay marriage was destroying America.
In addition, some members of the group complained to the president that their suggested candidates for administration positions had been ignored. Some reportedly “also accused White House aides of blocking Trump supporters from getting jobs in the administration”—a claim popularized in pro-Trump social media circles.
The meeting was organized by Ginni Thomas, a right-wing activist who is married to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Thomas’ political activity has raised concerns about conflicts of interest for her husband, the Times reported, and she once hired a young activist who was ousted from the organization Turning Point USA after writing in a text message: “I HATE BLACK PEOPLE. Like fuck them all . . . I hate blacks. End of story.”
Thomas founded a conservative advocacy group that would later merge with the Patrick Henry Center for Individual Liberty. She used to write columns for The Daily Caller and was once employed at the Heritage Foundation.
In 2017, Thomas gave awards to right-wing activists including James O’Keefe, Gaffney, and Fox News host Sean Hannity. She has appeared as a speaker alongside her husband at an Eagle Forum conference in Washington, where anti-LGBTQ rhetoric was a staple in multiple presentations. In 2013, Thomas discussed “cultural Marxism” with the late anti-feminist activist Phyllis Schlafly—a conspiracy theory that was originally coined by an anti-Semites and white nationalists in the 1990s that alleged Jews were trying to degrade Western societies for their own benefits.
The White House meeting was scheduled for this month after “months of delay.” From The Times:
For 60 minutes Mr. Trump sat, saying little but appearing taken aback, the three people said, as the group also accused White House aides of blocking Trump supporters from getting jobs in the administration.
It is unusual for the spouse of a sitting Supreme Court justice to have such a meeting with a president, and some close to Mr. Trump said it was inappropriate for Ms. Thomas to have asked to meet with the head of a different branch of government.
A vocal conservative, Ms. Thomas has long been close to what had been the Republican Party’s fringes, and extremely outspoken against Democrats. Her activism has raised concerns of conflicts of interest for her husband, who is perhaps the most conservative member of the Supreme Court.
Gaffney and the Center for Security Policy have enjoyed increased access to government officials in the Trump era and cheered on the Trump administration’s anti-Muslim rhetoric and initiatives, such as the travel ban. NumbersUSA began as a program of a foundation run by John Tanton, who advocated for immigration policies that would maintain United States’ majority-white status. (Tanton has also published, through his The Social Contract Press, white nationalists and anti-Semites.) In 2015, NumbersUSA chided Trump for not being anti-immigrant enough.
Correction (1/30/2019): A prior version of this article misidentified John Tanton as the founder of NumbersUSA, which was founded by Roy Beck as a Tanton foundation program, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. While working at another Tanton-backed entity, U.S. Inc., Beck was named Tanton’s “heir apparent” by Tanton himself, SPLC reports. Beck also edited a book for Tanton’s The Social Contract Press that was banned in Canada as anti-immigrant hate literature.