The top two Republican presidential contenders share more than a star-crossed bromance: They are also both big fans of an Islamophobic birther conspiracy theorist who thinks Huma Abedin is a sleeper agent.
It’s old news that Donald Trump has a thing for Frank Gaffney, who helms the conspiratorial Center for Security Policy. When the reality television star-turned-presidential frontrunner decided we need to temporarily ban Muslims from immigrating to the United States, he cited a methodologically goofy poll from Gaffney’s group suggesting one quarter of the world’s Muslims support global jihad and violence against America.
Though the Trump megaphone probably gave Gaffney more exposure than he’s ever had, Gaffney has friends in other high places as well: namely, the office of Ted Cruz. But Cruz, might have more to lose than his golden-hued frienemy, since his connections to Gaffney highlights just how hard it may be for him to posture as simultaneously mainstream-friendly and die-hard conservative.
In fact, just yesterday Cruz sent a video message to his buddy’s Nevada National Security Action Summit, in which he praised Gaffney without equivocation.
“I’m so sorry I can’t be there in person,” he said in the video, “but I want to thank Frank Gaffney and the entire team at the Center for Security policy for elevating these critical issues.”
“Frank, a patriot, he loves this country, and he is clear-eyed about the incredible threat of radical Islamic terrorism,” Cruz added.
Then he said that Loretta Lynch has implemented a “ban on anti-Muslim rhetoric.”
Nope. That didn’t happen.
On the offhand chance you aren’t a long-time Gaffney watcher, a few things about his resume stand out. For starters, he helped push birther conspiracy theories about Obama, writing in 2008 at the Washington Times that “[t]here is evidence Mr. Obama was born in Kenya rather than, as he claims, Hawaii.” He argues that Huma Abedin, a top aide to Hillary Clinton, is a secret agent for the Muslim Brotherhood.
And he floated that a logo redesign for the Missile Defense Agency “appears ominously to reflect a morphing of the Islamic crescent and star with the Obama campaign logo” and was indicative of “submission to Shariah by President Obama and his team.”
On top of that, Gaffney has long argued that Grover Norquist, who heads the conservative Americans for Tax Reform, is secretly working to help Muslim Brotherhood moles infiltrate the U.S. government.
Big if true.
Because of curious statements like those, many mainstream conservatives have tried to banish him from their movement. He lost access to the CPAC mainstage, for example, and in 2012 got disinvited from a weekly off-the-record meeting of D.C. conservative power brokers.
But while everyone else has run away from Gaffney, Cruz has embraced him.
The video in Nevada wasn’t a one-time thing. Cruz also sent a video message to Gaffney’s July 25 New Hampshire National Security Summit, calling the organizer a “good friend.”
In March, Cruz appeared in person at Gaffney’s South Carolina National Security Action Summit—an event that Breitbart News co-sponsored—where he lavished praise on the birther.
“Frank Gaffney, the one and only,” Cruz said at that event, “you are a clarion voice for truth.”
He also appeared in person at Gaffney’s “Defeat Jihad Summit” in February of this year, where he praised his conspiratorial organization.
“This is an important gathering,” Cruz said at that event. “Let me say thank you to the Center for Security Policy for its leadership, for the Secure Freedom Strategy, a comprehensive serious strategy addressing the threat of radical Islamic terrorism.”
Secure Freedom Strategy is authored by a group called “The Tiger Team” and calls for identifying the Muslim Brotherhood’s operatives, “overt and covert.”
(Cruz’s team didn’t respond to a request for comment on whether he shared Gaffney’s concerns that Norquist is a covert Muslim Brotherhood operative. We will update this story if we hear back from them.)
On Feb. 6, 2014, he and Gaffney sat next to each other to discuss the dangers of an electromagnetic pulse attack at an event Gaffney’s group sponsored.
On September 8 of this year, he appeared on Gaffney’s radio show and said the Iran deal means “we are at a moment much like Munich in 1938, where allowing homicidal maniacs to acquire the military power to murder millions.” He also joined the show on April 22, 2014.
While Gaffney has found favor with Cruz and Trump, he isn’t buddy-buddy with everyone in the Republican presidential field. In fact, he suggested in 2011 that Chris Christie committed “misprision of treason” by appointing a Muslim lawyer, Sohail Mohammed, to the New Jersey Superior Court of Passaic County.
“Mr. Mohammed’s work for the American Muslim Union (AMU), an organization with close ties to Hamas, is what concerns Mr. Gaffney, not his religion,” emailed Alex VanNess, a spokesperson for the Center for Security Policy. “During an interview with Andy McCarthy on his book, Mr. Gaffney simply asked Mr. McCarthy if appointing a person with ties to such a terrorist group amounted to ‘misprision of treason.’”
Cruz and Trump aren’t the only 2016 contenders to legitimize Gaffney. Carly Fiorina sent a video message to the group’s most recent event, and Rick Santorum spoke at its South Carolina summit. But the Texan, by far, has done the most to consistently and publicly praise a guy who thinks Grover Norquist is a secret Muslim spy.