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Trump Is Speaking at Jerry Falwell’s University This Weekend. Let the Craziness Ensue.

Mother Jones

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In a January 2016 speaking appearance at evangelical Liberty University, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump memorably flubbed a biblical reference and ventured, “There’s nothing like it, the Bible.” Despite an instantaneous round of Twitter eye-rolling, Trump soon picked up the endorsement of Liberty’s president, Jerry Falwell Jr. And on Saturday, Trump will return to Lynchburg, Virginia, as the first sitting president since George H.W. Bush to give the school’s commencement address.

The son of Jerry Falwell Sr.—the Moral Majority firebrand and Liberty founder who once hoped for an end to public education and blamed abortion providers, feminists, and gay rights supporters for secularizing the nation and paving the way for 9/11—Falwell Jr. has long been outspoken in his support of Trump. Way back in 2012, he brought Trump to campus to give a convocation speech and praised him as “one of the most influential political leaders in the US”—the person who’d “single-handedly forced President Obama to release his birth certificate.”

The lovefest continued at last year’s Republican National Convention, when Falwell called Trump “America’s blue-collar billionaire.” He defended the candidate in the Richmond Times-Dispatch in October, writing that he was “more concerned about America’s future than Donald Trump’s past” and calling him a “changed person.” Their alliance prompted considerable backlash from Liberty students, alumni, and even his father’s former chief of staff, Mark DeMoss, who later resigned from the university’s board of trustees after publicly criticizing Falwell’s endorsement.

Since the election, Falwell has continued to find his way into the headlines, telling the Associated Press in November that he was offered the education secretary position before Betsy DeVos but turned it down for personal reasons. He then told the Chronicle of Higher Education in January that Trump asked him to oversee a federal task force aimed at paring back “overreaching regulation” and giving “more leeway” to colleges and accrediting agencies. As of Friday, however, the administration had yet to officially announce such a task force, and a Liberty spokesperson said the school would not make Falwell available for comment about it until an announcement came from the White House.

Trump has lauded the 54-year-old Falwell as “one of the most respected religious leaders” in the country. Like his father, though, Falwell has a flair for outlandish, divisive remarks—as evidenced by these outrageous moments from the past several years:

“We could end those Muslims…”

Two days after the December 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, that left 14 dead, Falwell encouraged his students to get gun training and concealed-carry permits. “If some of those people in that community center had what I have in my back pocket right now…” Falwell said, referring to the pistol he was carrying. “I’ve always thought that if more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in and killed them.”

Soon after, Liberty ended a policy that prevented students from bringing firearms into residences. Since 2011, students and faculty with proper state permits have been allowed to carry concealed weapons on campus, a measure meant to enhance campus safety. “If something—God forbid—ever happened like what happened at Virginia Tech, there would be more than just our police officers who would be able to deal with it,” Falwell told an NBC local affiliate at the time. This fall, the university will open a shooting range on campus.

“Democratic voter indoctrination camps”

During his RNC speech last year, Falwell urged for the repeal of the Johnson Amendment, which prevents tax-exempt charitable organizations from engaging in political activity. The law’s elimination would open the door for churches and religious charities to make political contributions to campaigns, blurring the lines between church and state and emboldening the religious right’s political influence.

“Authorities have too often turned a blind eye to liberal groups, including universities where left-wing ideology is so pervasive that they have in effect have become Democratic voter indoctrination camps,” Falwell said. Getting rid of the Johnson Amendment “would create a huge revolution for conservative Christians and for free speech.” Trump said at the National Prayer Breakfast in February that he was determined to “get rid of and totally destroy” the law.

“This whole videotape thing was planned”

In October, when the “grab-’em-by-the-pussy” tape emerged, Falwell suggested that certain Republicans conspired to leak the footage. “I think this whole videotape thing was planned. I think it was timed,” Falwell told journalist Rita Cosby on her podcast. “I think it might have even been a conspiracy among the establishment Republicans who’ve known about it for weeks and who tried to time it to do the maximum damage to Donald Trump.”

He went on to say that Trump’s remarks weren’t “defensible” and added that Trump apologized for them. “I don’t think the American people want this country to go down the toilet because Donald Trump made some dumb comments on a tape 11 years ago,” Falwell said. Later, on Lou Dobbs Tonight, Falwell called leaking the tape “despicable” and that it “rises to the level of criminal behavior.”

As the tape saga unfolded, an editor at Liberty’s school paper wrote a column condemning what Trump dismissed as “locker room talk.” But Falwell pulled the column in favor of another piece, claiming he thought the column was “redundant.”

“A godly man of excellent character”

Falwell has been open about his desire to build Liberty’s football program into a powerhouse. On November 28, the school announced it would hire Ian McCaw, who served as the athletic director at football-crazy Baylor University for 13 years—and who resigned in May following the school’s wide-ranging sexual-assault scandal.

According to a May report prepared by the law firm Pepper Hamilton, Baylor athletic department personnel and football coaches “affirmatively chose not to report sexual violence”; in one case, the university revealed that officials, including McCaw, failed to report an alleged gang rape by five football players. Baylor fired head football coach Art Briles in late May, and university president and chancellor Ken Starr resigned shortly after. McCaw was put on probation and reprimanded following the report’s release, and he stepped down after Briles’ termination. (The university has since been the subject of lawsuits from former students and employees over its handling of sexual assaults.)

Following McCaw’s hiring, Falwell called him “a godly man of excellent character.” Falwell doubled-down when criticized, saying on November 29 that McCaw “is a good man who found himself in a place where bad things were happening and decided to leave.” “We concluded after our investigation that Ian McCaw did not attempt to hide the sexual assault that was reported but, instead, had one of his coaches report it to Judicial Affairs at Baylor in 2013, in accordance with Baylor’s policies and procedures at the time,” he said in an FAQ on Liberty’s site. Falwell added he couldn’t think of an athletic director “who is more sensitized to the importance of complying with the intricacies of Title IX” than McCaw.

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Trump Is Speaking at Jerry Falwell’s University This Weekend. Let the Craziness Ensue.

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Inside Marine Le Pen’s "Foreign Legion" of American Alt-Right Trolls

Mother Jones

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Vladimir Putin isn’t the only one trying to attack the French presidential election. Far-right trolls and meme warriors like the kind who helped elect Donald Trump have found a new calling: “The Battle of France.” There’s no way of telling what real-world impact it’s having, but with the vote just a few days away, activity in support of right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen has reached a fever pitch on Reddit, 4chan/pol/, and other online forums popular with the American alt-right.

“All shitposting units are required to man their battle stations,” declared a recent 4chan post. “Meme war recruits: prove your worth. Veterans, lead the charge…. MAKE FRANCE GREAT AGAIN.” The post urged 4channers to join a Discord forum dubbed “Operation: Marine Le Kek,” where at any given moment up to about 450 participants are conducting meme “raids” to hype their candidate and attack her centrist rival, Emmanuel Macron. Using fake French identities and sock puppet social media accounts, they’ve hijacked Twitter hashtags, social media posts, and comments sections on news sites with memes portraying Macron as a stooge of Jewish financiers who will sell out the working class and capitulate to Muslim terrorists.

Though “Operation: Marine Le Kek” is named after the ironic Pepe-inspired god of the alt-right, organizers of the forum have urged participants to mask their alt-right affiliations by avoiding the use of Pepe memes altogether:

On Twitter, the group has focused on hijacking popular hashtags and pushing pro-Le Pen hashtags in coordinated tweet-storms:

The Discord chat for “Operation: Marine Le Kek” includes a sub-forum called #rent-a-twitter, where participants post login information for sock puppet accounts:

The group has pursued a different strategy on other social media platforms. Here’s a how-to manual for Facebook trolling that was circulating last week (by then, Facebook had already banned 30,000 French accounts that violated its terms of service):

The meme warriors of 4chan have been careful to conceal their American identities. A number of posts on Discord urge users to adopt French-sounding social media identities and avoid using Google Translate to convert English phrases into French. Instead, they’ve collaborated with the French equivalent of 4chan and a related French-language forum on Discord called La Taverne des Patriotes. English-speaking visitors to the French site hang out in a sub-forum known as #Foreign_Legion, where they often solicit help in translating their anti-Macron memes into French.

A recent post on the #Foreign_Legion section of La Taverne des Patriotes

They’ve also been careful not to draw too much attention to their efforts:

The French and English-language Discord groups include forums where meme creators share their work. Organizers have pushed a strategy focused on targeting specific ideological factions of the French electorate, as detailed in a recent 4chan thread:

1) “Portray Macron as a French aristocrat. Really hammer in the point that he doesn’t give a fuck about the common man, and that he is a SIC elitist who know SIC nothing about the common folk.”

“Let them enrich themselves,” an anti-Macron meme posted on Discord

2) Make memes tailored to supporters of candidates who failed to reach the final round of the election:

Voters who in the primary had supported the center-right candidate François Fillon should be hit with memes focusing on “Islam and immigration, and how Macron won’t stop it.”
“If you are in the Islamic State, Vote Macron,” a meme posted on Discord

Memes targeting supporters of the socialist candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon should “focus on how bad the EU is, and how Macron is a rich banker globalist puppet.”
“Trust me, I understand the difficulties of the French. Vote for me!”

3) “MOST IMPORTANT: French voters hate current president François Hollande” and will vote against Macron if it means “another 5 years of Hollande.”

Macron to Hollande: “Shhh! Don’t reveal our plans to help the rich!”

Other memes have focused on the age difference between Macron and his older wife. Late last month, 4channers used doctored images to spread the conspiracy theory that he was secretly sleeping with his wife’s 30-year-old daughter.

Ultimately, it’s hard to assess the impact of these various efforts. The number of people participating in the the Discord chat rooms and 4chan threads I visited was relatively small—as of Tuesday there were less than 1,000—and they didn’t typically discuss specific targets. Participants have boasted of tweeting and retweeting pro-Le Pen hashtags tens of thousands of times, though it hasn’t typically been enough to cause them to trend on Twitter’s homepage. What’s clear, however, is that anti-Macron and pro-Le Pen memes abound on French social media. On Tuesday, anti-Macron memes from the 4chan playbook dominated Twitter in association with a trending hashtag about France’s upcoming presidential debate:

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Inside Marine Le Pen’s "Foreign Legion" of American Alt-Right Trolls

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Left Hook: A Brief History of Nazi Punching in America

Mother Jones

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Long before the New York Times wondered, “Is it O.K. to punch a Nazi?,” far-right extremists were confronted by militant anti-fascists. These groups’ roots go back before World War II, when radicals battled nascent fascists and Nazis in the streets of Europe. The rise of violent white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups in the 1980s sparked the American “antifa” (anti-fascist) movement. Street squads like Anti-Racist Action and Fuck Shit Up took a nod from their European predecessors and responded with their own brand of extremism. A timeline of the American anti-fascist movement:

One of five anti-KKK marchers killed in Greensboro, North Carolina. Bettmann Archive/Getty Images


Members of the Ku Klux Klan open fire on a “Death to the Klan” march in Greensboro, North Carolina, killing five people.


The Dead Kennedys release “Nazi Punks Fuck Off.”


In Southern California, Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice (SHARP) forms in response to the growing white power movement.


The Baldies, a multiracial street crew, forms in Minneapolis. They dish out “righteous violence” to members of the Twin Cities’ racist skinhead gangs.


Members of the Baldies join up with other young activists to launch a nationwide network of anti-fascist groups called Anti-Racist Action (ARA). Members commit to confronting right-wing extremists face-to-face: “Whenever fascists are organizing or active in public, we’re there…Never let the Nazis have the street!”

Late 1980s

Fuck Shit Up (FSU), a.k.a. Friends Stand United, which the FBI later classifies as a street gang, expels neo-Nazis and racist skinheads from punk shows in Boston. (In 2011, its founder, Elgin James, released Little Birds, a movie loosely based on his life—and went to prison for extortion.)


A SHARP member shoots and kills a 21-year-old white supremacist in Portland, Oregon.


White supremacists murder two ARA members—a white man and a black man who were best friends—in the desert outskirts of Las Vegas.


A follower of Matt Hale, the neo-Nazi leader of the World Church of the Creator, goes on a three-day murder spree across Illinois and Indiana. His victims include a Korean student shot in Bloomington, Indiana, which becomes a hotbed of anti-racist organizing.

Matt Hale Tim Boyle/Getty Images


ARA and a Boston anarchist group skirmish with white supremacists who turn out for a speech by Hale in York, Pennsylvania. (Hale is currently serving a 40-year sentence for soliciting the murder of a federal judge.)

Police clear out anti-racist protesters in Toledo, Ohio. J.D. Pooley/AP


More than a dozen neo-Nazis try to march through a predominately African American neighborhood in Toledo, Ohio. Hundreds, including ARA members, shut down the march. Protesters throw bricks at cops, destroy police cars, and set buildings on fire.


A 25-year-old man is beaten to death outside a punk show in Asbury Park, New Jersey, after reportedly refusing to take off a Confederate flag T-shirt. An alleged FSU member is arrested but not charged.


Holocaust denier David Irving’s tri-state-area book tour is disrupted by ARA members. They also hack into and release Irving’s personal emails. In Chicago, an ARA member tries to infiltrate the National Socialist Front and is stabbed.

Mark Peterson/Redux


Hundreds of protesters, including members of ARA and the New Black Panthers, clash with neo-Nazis in Trenton, New Jersey.


Members of the Hoosier Anti- Racist Movement (HARM) and ARA attack white supremacists at a restaurant in Tinley Park, Illinois, leaving three people hospitalized. The Tinley Park Five are later convicted for their roles in the assault.

Followers of a white nationalist group led by Matthew Heimbach protest a talk by an anti-racist author in Terre Haute, Indiana. They are allegedly beaten by HARM members wielding padlocks inside socks.

Feb. 2016

Ku Klux Klan members and antifas fight in Anaheim, California. Klansmen stab three people.

April 2016

The Bastards Motorcycle Club, an anti-racist motorcycle gang from South Carolina, confronts KKK members in Stone Mountain, Georgia.

June 2016

Antifas and anti-racists spar with white nationalists outside the California state Capitol in Sacramento. Fourteen people are injured, including seven with stab wounds.

“Alt-Right” godfather Richard Spencer is sucker punched on Inaguration Day Australian Broadcasting Cooperation

Jan. 20, 2017

White nationalist and “alt-right” godfather Richard Spencer is punched in the head by an unidentified man on the streets of Washington, DC, on Inauguration Day. He responds by suggesting alt-right vigilante squads for protection; the internet responds with “Nazi punching” memes. That night, an anti-fascist demonstrator is shot in Seattle by a Trump supporter during a protest of a speech by then-Breitbart troll Milo Yiannopoulos.

Feb. 1, 2017

Antifa and “black bloc” protesters violently shut down a talk by Yiannopoulos at the University of California-Berkeley.

Apr. 15, 2017

Pro-Trump supporters hold a “Patriots Day” rally in downtown Berkeley. They are confronted by antifascist counterdemonstrators and fighting breaks out. Police report 20 arrests and at least 11 injuries.

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Left Hook: A Brief History of Nazi Punching in America

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Anti-Muslim Hate Groups Have Tripled With the Rise of Trump

Mother Jones

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The number of anti-Muslim hate groups in America tripled last year, according to a report released Wednesday by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a watchdog organization that tracks political extremists. Between the beginning and end of 2016, the number of anti-Muslim groups increased from 34 to 101—by far the largest spike since SPLC began tracking the category in 2010.

The surge coincides with a 67 percent increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes last year, a level of violence not seen since the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Documenting hate crimes is challenging (both in terms of legal definition and incidents that may go unreported), and most hate groups don’t release membership statistics—two reasons why SPLC views the number of anti-Muslim groups as an important metric.

Notably, the steady rise in these hate groups began around the launch in mid 2015 of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Though the Syrian refugee crisis and terrorist attacks from Paris to Orlando may have fueled some increase in Islamphobia, Trump’s repeated invocation of the threat of “radical Islamic terrorism” and move as president to ban immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries has clearly fanned the flames.

“The rise in anti-Muslim groups in the last year I think demonstrates just how much the presidential campaign influenced the radical right in the US,” says Ryan Lenz, a senior writer for the SPLC’s Intelligence Project. “We have not seen this level of anti-Muslim rhetoric in quite some time, and Trump has done the lion’s share of infusing the anti-Muslim movement in the US with energy, which had been waning for years.”

Breitbart News, the far-right publication formerly led by Trump senior strategist Stephen Bannon, has written dozens of stories about Muslim “rape gangs,” the supposed threat of Sharia law in the United States, and alleged conspiracies by the Council on Islamic Relations, a moderate civil rights organization that Breitbart characterizes as a “front group” for terrorists.

Until stepping down from Brietbart News in August 2015 to lead the Trump campaign, Bannon hosted a Sirius XM radio show, Breitbart News Daily, where he conducted dozens of interviews with anti-Muslim extremists. One of Bannon’s guests on the show, Trump surrogate Roger Stone, warned of a future America “where hordes of Islamic madmen are raping, killing, pillaging, defecating in public fountains, harassing private citizens, elderly people—that’s what’s coming.”

Bannon also said on his show that George W. Bush’s statement after 9/11 that “Islam is peace” was “the dumbest” comment Bush made during his presidency. Bannon told listeners that the United States and Europe are engaged in a “global existential war” and suggested that a “fifth column” of Islamist sympathizers has infiltrated the US government.

Since his election, Trump has tapped several leaders with track records marked by anti-Muslim views. Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s now ex-national security adviser, has described Islam as a “malignant cancer” and tweeted that “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL.” As a student at Duke University, senior Trump advisor Stephen Miller co-founded the Terrorism Awareness Project, which promoted “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.” And Trump’s CIA chief, Mike Pompeo, has embraced apocalyptic views of Islam.

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Anti-Muslim Hate Groups Have Tripled With the Rise of Trump

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The Sexist Chatter at Elaine Chao’s Confirmation Hearing Will Make You Shudder

Mother Jones

There were no demonstrations or outbursts from protesters at Elaine Chao’s confirmation hearing Wednesday to become President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of transportation. The former secretary of labor in the second Bush administration may have not been loved by labor unions, but her previous experience as a deputy transportation secretary for George H.W. Bush makes her uniquely qualified for the job.

The most notable moments during Chao’s appearance before the Senate Science, Commerce, and Transportation Committee did not concern her positions on safety regulation, Trump’s infrastructure plan, or the self-driving car industry, but rather her marriage to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). McConnell appeared at the hearing to introduce his wife.

“I regret that I have but one wife to give for my country’s infrastructure,” McConnell said, echoing the words of the former Senate majority leader Bob Dole in 1983, when he introduced his wife, Elizabeth Dole, for her confirmation hearing to be secretary of transportation in the Reagan administration. “She’s got really great judgment,” McConnell added, pausing for effect and appreciative laughter from his colleagues, “on a whole variety of things.”

McConnell’s quip was the first of a number of remarks focusing on Chao’s gender and marital status that male senators made during the hearing. Sen. Jim Inhoffe (R-Okla.) focused on Chao’s relationship to her father. “I keep thinking—last night, I was with you and your family, your daddy—how excited your daddy is right now thinking about the things that are going on, and that he is responsible for you and your performing and your cute little nieces,” he said at the start of his questioning. “As you well know, I’ve got 20 kids and grandkids. You’ve got some more work to do, but that’s alright.”

The comments were decidedly bipartisan. “I might just say although Sen. McConnell has left, he and I have something in common, which is we both married above ourselves,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) joked. He wasn’t the only one to say something to that effect.

“I have a great deal of respect for you, although now I have some frustration now with Mitch McConnell, being a young, single member of the Senate,” Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said. “He has never taken me aside to tell me how to marry out of my league.”

At the start of the confirmation hearing, chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) patted his committee on the back, noting that with its new members, it has the distinction of being the “Senate committee with the most women members ever.”

For her part, Chao played along. She joked about her relationship with McConnell, saying she planned to “lock in the majority leader’s support tonight over dinner.”

Chao is not alone. As the wife of a Republican leader, she has plenty of company.


The Sexist Chatter at Elaine Chao’s Confirmation Hearing Will Make You Shudder

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Trump Delegate Indicted on Federal Weapons and Child Porn Charges

Mother Jones

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A Maryland delegate selected by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign for the Republican National Convention was indicted on Wednesday on federal weapons and child pornography charges.

The federal indictment alleges that Caleb Andrew Bailey, 30, of Waldorf, Maryland, illegally mailed a cache of ammunition and explosives through the US Postal Service and illegally possessed a machine gun and child pornography. The indictment also further alleges that Bailey “attempted to use and did use a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct to produce child pornography.”

Joe Cluster, the executive director for the Maryland Republican Party, confirmed to Mother Jones that Bailey was approved by the Trump campaign as a delegate to the GOP convention from Maryland’s 5th Congressional District. Bailey could not immediately be reached for comment.

Questions remain as to how the Trump campaign has vetted its delegates for the GOP national convention. Earlier this month, Mother Jones reported that the Trump campaign approved a white nationalist leader as one of its delegates from California. That prompted the delegate, William Johnson, to resign. The Trump campaign blamed Johnson’s inclusion on a “database error.”

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Bailey’s indictment.

UPDATE, 4:15 p.m. EDT: The Trump campaign has issued a statement: “We strongly condemn these allegations and leave it in the capable hands of law enforcement. He will be replaced immediately.”

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Trump Delegate Indicted on Federal Weapons and Child Porn Charges

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Trump Campaign Corresponded With Its White Nationalist Delegate Long After "Database Error"

Mother Jones

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On Tuesday, Mother Jones broke the story that the Trump campaign had selected William Johnson, a prominent white nationalist leader, as a California delegate. The Trump campaign responded with the following statement:

Yesterday the Trump campaign submitted its list of California delegates to be certified by the Secretary of State of California. A database error led to the inclusion of a potential delegate that had been rejected and removed from the campaign’s list in February 2016.

Reached again by Mother Jones late Tuesday, Johnson said he would resign as a delegate if asked to do so by the campaign. “I accept Trump’s explanation,” he said, regarding the statement. “I don’t want to gainsay the Trump campaign. If I am not removed from the database, I will resign.”

Although the Trump campaign blamed a “database error” for including Johnson as a delegate, the campaign corresponded with him personally just over 24 hours ago. Trump’s California delegate coordinator, Katie Lagomarsino, sent Johnson a congratulatory email on Monday, and when he asked for clarification about how to send his completed pledge form back to the campaign, she replied. Here is the email exchange (with the personal contact information redacted by Mother Jones):

Mother Jones also has a copy of the pledge form discussed in the email exchange, which Johnson signed and sent to the Trump campaign on Monday. You can see his pledge here.

Update, 6pm PDT: ABC News‘ Candace Smith reports that Johnson may remain a Trump delegate per California regulations:


Trump Campaign Corresponded With Its White Nationalist Delegate Long After "Database Error"

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That Time When Donald Trump Said Jeb Bush Would Make a Great President

Mother Jones

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In recent days, it seems nothing makes Donald Trump happier than assailing Jeb Bush. The current GOP front-runner gleefully slams the former front-runner almost any chance he gets, and in the past week, with Bush finally trying to attack Trump with some verve, Trump has had plenty of opportunities to one-up Bush with counterattacks. On Saturday, Bush said, “I gotta get this off my chest: Donald Trump is a jerk.” Naturally, Trump fired back the next day on Meet the Press with Chuck Todd:

Jeb is a weak and ineffective person. He’s also a low-energy person, which I’ve said before. But he’s a weak and ineffective person. Jeb, if he were president, it would just be more of the same, it would be just—he’s got money from all of the lobbyists and all of the special interests that run him like a puppet. He’s got 2 percent in the polls; I have 41 percent in the latest poll. He has 2 percent. He’s going to be off the stage soon. He’s an embarrassment to the Bush family and, in fact, he doesn’t even want to use the Bush name, which is interesting. Jeb is an embarrassment to himself and to his family and the Republican Party—they’re not even listening to Jeb. Jeb is saying that—by the way, Chuck, Jeb is only saying that to try and get a little mojo going, but in the meantime, I went up 11 points in the new Fox poll. I went up 11 points after the debate, and he went down 2.

This was just more of Trump’s dismissive and taunting schoolyard bully approach to dealing with Bush. Two days earlier, Trump tweeted out this assessment of Bush: “The last thing our country needs is another BUSH! Dumb as a rock!”

But there once was a time when Trump held Jeb Bush in high regard, hailed him as a leader the country needed, and declared he would make a great president.

In 2000, Trump was pondering a possible presidential run as the Reform Party nominee. (The Reform Party was the remnants of Ross Perot’s independent presidential bid of 1992.) And he wrote a book, The America We Deserve, in which he pontificated on a host of political and policy matters. (He now claims that in this book he predicted Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda’s 9/11 attack, but that’s not true.) Toward the end of the book, Trump shared his thoughts about prominent politicians. Trump noted that, should he decide to run for president, he would, of course, offer the best approach “available in the presidential marketplace,” and that he could bring to the presidency “a new spirit, a great spirit that we haven’t had in this country for a long time.” Still, Trump did point out that there were a few politicians of whom he thought highly. And at the top of this list was Bush.

Trump wrote:

Florida Governor Jeb Bush is a good man. I’ve held fundraisers for him. He’s exactly the kind of political leader this country needs now and will very much need in the future. He, too, knows how to hang in there. His first shot at Florida’s governorship didn’t work out, but he didn’t give up. He was campaigning the day after his loss. He won the next race in a landslide. He’s bright, tough, and principled. I like the Bush family very much. I believe we could get another president from the Bushes. He may be the one.

Of the pols Trump cited in the book, Jeb Bush was the only one who Trump pronounced presidential material. High praise, indeed, given that Trump was eyeing the White House himself at the time.

Other prominent Americans Trump fancied included Oprah Winfrey (“enormously successful in an incredibly competitive field”) and then-Sen. Bob Torricelli, a New Jersey Democrat (“a first-rate public figure”). Torricelli, though, pulled out of his reelection campaign in 2002 after media reports revealed he had accepted illegal campaign contributions from a businessman linked to North Korea. In the book, Trump—who now wants to ban Muslims from entering the United States—proclaimed his admiration for Muhammad Ali (“on the spiritual level, I believe, he still floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee”). He praised then-Gov. George Pataki, a New York Republican, as the “most underrated guy in American politics.” Trump said he was looking for Pataki to end up on the Republican national ticket in 2000 or 2004. He cited Al Gore for being a man of “formidable intellect” and also “vastly underrated.” (Yet in a 2010 speech, Trump said the Nobel Prize committee should take back the prize it awarded Gore in 2007 for raising awareness of human-induced climate change, claiming that “China, Japan and India are laughing at America’s stupidity.”)

And Trump had positive things to say about the Clintons. He called Hillary “definitely smart and resilient.” He added, “She was very nice to my sons, Donny and Eric, when she visited New York.” As for Bill, he noted that he “could have gone down as a very good president. Instead he goes down as a guy they tried to impeach.” Trump continued:

Now he can’t even get into a golf club in Westchester. But he can join my golf club—I’d be proud to have him. I’m developing a spectacular new country club five minutes from his new home.

And speaking of his new home, in all candor, he really overpaid. He really got ripped off on the house. If I had represented him in buying the house, I could have saved them about $600,000.

Nowadays, it’s not likely that he wants to help the Clintons.


That Time When Donald Trump Said Jeb Bush Would Make a Great President

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The 8 Biggest Moments of Tuesday’s Republican Presidential Debate

Mother Jones

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The stakes in Las Vegas were high on Tuesday night, as the nine leading Republican presidential candidates met once again for the last Republican debate of 2015. The event took place at the Venetian, the hotel-casino owned by GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson, who was sitting in the front row, and it aired on CNN. The conversation centered on terrorism in the wake of the attacks in Paris and the San Bernardino shooting—but the candidates took every opportunity to sneak in digs at their rivals on a wide range of subjects.

Though the simmering rivalry between Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio was expected to take center stage, it was just one of many disputes that broke out during the debate. Donald Trump and Jeb Bush butted heads several times: Trump attempted to dismiss Bush with a reference to his flagging campaign, while Bush tried to make the case that Trump is not a serious candidate. Rand Paul had a combative evening as well, taking the fight to Rubio over immigration and to the group as a whole over foreign policy.

Meanwhile, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, and Chris Christie tried to cut into the bickering by pointing out that they are the outsiders who will stop bickering and get things done.

Here are the highlights—and lowlights—from the fifth Republican presidential debate.

Rubio and Cruz take their long-simmering foreign policy conflict to the stage: Egged on by moderator Wolf Blitzer, Rubio launched an attack against Cruz’s record on defense. “Three times he voted against the Defense Authorization Act, which is a bill that funds the troops,” Rubio said. “And I have to assume that if you vote against it in the Senate, you would also veto it as president.”

“You can’t carpet bomb ISIS if you don’t have planes and bombs to attack them with,” Rubio continued.

Cruz responded by tying Rubio to President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, whom he claims destabilized the Middle East and opened the region to “radical Islamic terrorists.” But Cruz also used the moment to draw a distinction with Rubio over their foreign policy approaches. “We need to focus on killing the bad guys,” he said, “not getting stuck in Middle Eastern civil wars that don’t keep America safe.”

Paul goes after Rubio on his immigration bill—by talking about terrorism: Paul used the issue of terrorism to light into Rubio for his work on a comprehensive immigration bill—a key weakness for Rubio among Republican primary voters who are wary of immigration and oppose the maligned immigration bill Rubio helped craft in 2013. “To defend the country, you have to defend the border,” Paul said.

Trump defends targeting the families of ISIS fighters: Paul laid into Trump for proposing to go after the families of ISIS fighters. “If you are going to kill the families of terrorists, realize that there’s something called the Geneva Convention we’re going to have to pull out of,” Paul said. “It would defy every norm that is America. So when you ask yourself, whoever you are, that think you’re going to support Donald Trump, think, do you believe in the Constitution? Are you going to change the Constitution?”

Trump’s response? “So they can kill us but we can’t kill them? That’s what you’re saying?”

Trump would be willing to shut down parts of the internet to keep ISIS out: In his bid to claim his spot as the most anti-ISIS candidate, Trump has suggested that he’d keep the group off the internet. How exactly, Blitzer wondered, would Trump achieve this? Was he worried about the implications for freedom of speech?

Trump wasn’t worried. “You talk freedom of speech, you talk freedom of anything you want,” Trump said. “I don’t want them using our internet.” His explanation was short on details—”I wanted to get our brilliant people from Silicon Valley and other places and figure out a way that ISIS cannot do what they’re doing”—but rest assured, Trump would shut that all down. “I sure as hell don’t want to let people that want to kill us and kill our nation use our internet,” he said.

Jeb finally pounces on Trump: “Donald, you’re not going to be able to insult your way to the presidency,” Bush said about 45 minutes into the debate, midway through a minor skirmish with Bush. The former Florida governor came into the debate clearly angling to diminish Trump’s standing as the front-runner. “This is another example of the lack of seriousness,” Bush said of Trump’s line about ISIS family members. “It’s just crazy. It makes no sense to suggest this.”

Bush had opened the night rebutting Trump’s proposal to ban all Muslim visitors from the country, saying it was not a serious proposal. “Donald is great at the one-liners,” Bush said, “but he is a chaos candidate, and he would be a chaos president.”

Trump hits back at Jeb: But Trump didn’t let Bush get the last laugh. Later in the debate, Trump steamrolled the former Florida governor. “This is a tough business, to run for president,” Bush said sternly in a back-and-forth with Trump. “Oh yeah,” Trump said sarcastically, almost rolling his eyes, “you’re a real tough guy Jeb, I know.”

“You’re never going to be president of the United States by insulting your way to the presidency,” Bush responded, perking up with life. But alas for Jeb, Trump was ready with a zinger. “I’m at 42 percent and you’re at 3,” Trump quipped. “So far I’m doing better, so far I’m doing better. You know you started off over here, Jeb”—Trump pointed next to himself at center stage—”you’re moving over further and further. Pretty soon you’re going to be off the end.”

Fiorina claims she aided government intelligence work after 9/11: “Let me tell you a story,” she said. “Soon after 9/11, I got a phone call from the NSA. They needed help. I gave them help. I stopped a truckload of equipment. I had it turned around. It was escorted by the NSA into headquarters.”

As recounted recently in a story by Yahoo News, as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Fiorina got a call from NSA chief Michael Hayden, who needed computer equipment for a secret new program. Fiorina chose to help and rerouted a shipment of computer servers headed to a retailer to the National Security Agency instead. Those servers were used in the secret, warrantless collection of data that was exposed in 2013 by Edward Snowden.

Paul calls Christie Dr. Strangelove: Christie was vehement: A no-fly zone meant no planes would be flying over Syria, even if that required attacking a Russian aircraft.

“Well, I think if you’re in favor of World War III, you have your candidate,” Paul said in response, pointing to Christie, who was standing right beside him. “Here’s the thing. My goodness, what we want in a leader is someone with judgment, not someone who is so reckless as to stand on the stage and say, ‘Yes, I’m jumping up and down, I’m going to shoot down Russian planes.'”

Paul didn’t leave it at that, slipping in a dig against Christie for the Bridgegate controversy that’s dragged down his presidential ambitions. “When we think about someone who might want World War III, we might think about someone who might shut down a bridge because they don’t like their friends, they want to get a Democrat.”

Originally posted here – 

The 8 Biggest Moments of Tuesday’s Republican Presidential Debate

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Trump Says He Predicted Osama Bin Laden. He Didn’t.

Mother Jones

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On Wednesday afternoon, Donald Trump, the GOP presidential front-runner, appeared on the internet-based talk show of Alex Jones, a so-called 9/11 truther who promulgates a wide variety of wild conspiracy theories. Jones heaped praise on Trump for being a modern-day George Washington who could save this nation before it falls into utter ruin in the next few years, and he begged Trump to vow that he will not pull out of the race (even under pressure from dark globalist forces). Trump, for his part, also heaped praise on Trump.

In touting his own national security credentials, Trump pointed to a book he published in 2000 called The America We Deserve. He noted that in this work, he brilliantly foresaw the threat posed by Osama bin Laden:

I said in that book that we better be careful with this guy named Osama bin Laden. I mean I really study this stuff. I really find it very interesting, even though I am a businessman…I said we better be careful with Osama bin Laden. There’s a guy named Osama bin Laden. Nobody really knew who he was. But he was nasty. He was saying really nasty things about our country and what he wants to do to it. And I wrote in the book in 2000—two sic years before the World Trade Center came down—I talked to you about Osama bin Laden, you better take him out. I said he’s going to crawl under a rock. You better take him out. And now people are seeing that, they’re saying, “You know, Trump predicted Osama bin Laden.” Which actually is true.

Really? Trump, in a 2000 book, fingered bin Laden as a primary threat who had to be neutralized, and he did this before others saw the Al Qaeda leader as a danger?

Okay, by now you know where this is heading. In the Kindle version of this book, there is no index. But according to the search function, there is only one—yes, just one—brief reference to Osama bin Laden or Al Qaeda in the entire book. Here it is:

Instead of one looming crisis hanging over us, we face a bewildering series of smaller crises, flash points, standoffs, and hot spots. We’re not playing the chess game to end all chess games anymore. We’re playing tournament chess—one master against many rivals. One day we’re all assured that Iraq is under control, the UN inspectors have done their work, everything’s fine, not to worry. The next day the bombing begins. One day we’re told that a shadowy figure with no fixed address named Osama bin-Laden is public enemy number one, and U.S. jetfighters lay waste to his camp in Afghanistan. He escapes back under some rock, and a few news cycles later it’s on to a new enemy and new crisis.”

That’s it. Nothing prescient. Nothing that was not known publicly at the time. Nothing about putting bin Laden on the top of the national security to-do list. In the book’s opening chapter, Trump did note, “I really am convinced we’re in danger of the sort of terrorist attacks that will make the 1993 bombing of the Trade Center look like kids playing with firecrackers.” But he did not connect this to bin Laden. And in the book’s short chapter on terrorism, Trump had no mention of bin Laden or Al Qaeda. He focused instead on the terrorist threat—such as a “biobomb”—posed by the governments of Iran, Iraq, Libya, and North Korea. And he proposed “The (Trump) National Security Lottery,” which “would sell tickets just like in a Powerball Lottery, but dedicate every cent to funding an anti-terrorism campaign.”

So Trump is wrong. In this book, he did not predict the rise of bin Laden. He and his co-writer were simply riffing off the clips of the day.

Not surprisingly, Jones did not call out Trump on this. Instead, he cheered on the tycoon and said Trump’s campaign is “epic.” Trump repaid the compliment. As the segment was ending, he told Jones, “Your reputation is amazing. I will not let you down.”


Trump Says He Predicted Osama Bin Laden. He Didn’t.

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