The religious right’s bargain with Trump, in a nutshell, from Bob Garfield’s recent interview with CNP researcher, author Anne Nelson on his podcast Bully Pulpit:
GARFIELD: All right. Let’s now turn to the more-or-less present: the rise of Trump and the now violent assault on democracy. How was CNP involved in Trump’s ascent?
NELSON: The CNP was involved with Trump, initially, very reluctantly. He wasn’t one of them, he had no particular religious background, he was multiply divorced, and he really didn’t reflect their values in many ways. Their favored candidate was Ted Cruz, but they had a problem – which was that Cruz had a tremendous charisma deficit, and as he lost the primaries, they realized that either they supported Trump, the primary victor, or they lived with Hillary Clinton’s presidency, which was unacceptable to them.
GARFIELD: Oh, I – I’m sorry, I just – I just have to interrupt to remind you what then Senator Al Franken (laughs) said about Cruz.
AL FRANKEN: I probably like him more than most of my other colleagues like Ted, and I hate him (laughs).
NELSON: That is the case. Cruz is a formidable intelligence and strategist. He was not a winning candidate outside Texas. So the fundamentalists convened something like a thousand leaders and representatives in New York City in June of 2016 at the Times Square Marriott. They brought Trump out to parade him before them, and they had a number of leaders from the Council for National Policy there on the program. And publicly, what that event was about was to sell Trump to this thousand fundamentalist leaders, many of whom had been Never Trumpers, and they were like, “This is going to be your guy. You need to go home and tell your flocks that this is the plan.” But the second part of that agenda involved meetings where they cut a deal with Trump. They said, “You don’t have a war chest, you don’t have ground troops for the election canvassing, you don’t have a strategy. And all indications are you’re going to get creamed.” So we have all three of those that we can put into your service. But in return –
GARFIELD: We have a shopping list.
NELSON: We have a shopping list, and it’s basically got three items. The first one was enact some of our policies by executive orders. So when suddenly the Republican platform has this new anti-trans, anti LGBT language that was literally written by the president of the Council for National Policy, Tony Perkins, Trump enacted the anti-trans policy for the Pentagon against the Pentagon’s wishes, which, you know, the Pentagon said, “This is disruptive of our operations and trans people are not a problem,” but Trump had to deliver on his deal. The second part was to create an evangelical advisory council. Obama had a religious advisory council, but it included Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims. This one was 100% Protestant, and none of these other religions needed to apply. The leadership of this council were in and out of the White House on policy discussions and photo ops on a weekly basis. The third was by far the most important, far reaching, and devastating to our democracy. And that was when they got Trump to agree that any federal judges he nominated would be approved from a list that was submitted by three organizations run by members of the Council for National Policy. These were the Federalist Society, the Heritage Foundation, and the National Rifle Association. Now, what business the NRA has in recommending federal judge nominations? I do not know, but that’s how it played out, and after his first confirmation, he invited the representatives of these groups, most of them from the Council for National Policy, for a little victory luncheon at the White House.
GARFIELD: So that was the origin story of Trump’s deal with the devil, a man with not only no religion, but no ideology to speak of creating himself in the image of his political and financial sponsors. Over the ensuing – well, so then he was elected, more or less – and then over the ensuing four years, many of Trump’s 30,000 lies, big and small, find their provenance, what do you know, in the CNP. So, can we just tick a few of these off beginning with the COVID hoax, and the savior drug hydroxychloroquine?
NELSON: So if you get to the beginning of 2020, the Trump campaign is in trouble and the Council for National Policy recognizes it. They had hoped that the 2020 elections would be won with a popular vote, that was cast into doubt. COVID set in a couple of months later, and the whole strategy of the Trump campaign had been built around mass rallies and data harvesting from attendees of the rallies and building on that to secure a victory. Well, mass rallies became impossible because of COVID restrictions, so there was a critical phone call that involved the president of the Council for National Policy and members of the Trump campaign staff, where they said, “We need to open up society, get the economy roaring again, and people are afraid of COVID, but they trust doctors. We have a group of doctors who will say that COVID is a hoax, will argue for the reopening of society and the mass rallies.” So that summer, these doctors were convened by Jenny Beth Martin in Washington. Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots and a leading figure in the Council for National Policy. At that point, the point person – when Dr. Simone Gold announced that hydroxychloroquine was a cure for COVID – she was put on partner media platforms of the CNP, including the Charlie Kirk Show and the Christian Broadcasting Network, spreading this disinformation
SIMONE GOLD: With the tyranny of medical apartheid nipping at our heels, rise up. Rise up. Rise up.
NELSON: And that has now expanded into a small army of unethical physicians who are continuing the hydroxychloroquine hoax. They’ve added ivermectin as a cure and, in fact, they have online prescription services charging money to people who are ordering ivermectin as a COVID cure.
JAKE TAPPER: Poison control centers are reporting that their calls are spiking in places like Mississippi and Oklahoma because some Americans are trying to use an anti parasite horse drug called ivermectin to treat coronavirus, to prevent contracting coronavirus. What would you tell someone who is considering taking that drug?
FAUCI: Don’t do it.
NELSON: There’s no evidence that it helps against COVID and, in fact, there are several cases of deaths. Not just from COVID and the failed approach of ivermectin, but people taking overdoses of ivermectin. At the same time, they’re discouraging vaccination, and the purpose that lies behind this is, I believe, to discredit any federal agency, to discredit the CDC and the NIH, and to have their followers distrust any kind of fact based authority. Whether it’s science, whether it’s professional journalism, whether it’s federal agencies, and work them into this stoked anger and frustration that is then politically mobilized, and so is chaos.
GARFIELD: And not just because they’re elites and look down at the silent majority, as Nixon called Middle America, but because there is a vast conspiracy to make money for Bill Gates or to turn children against their country, or to put right wing political dissidents into concentration camps or, you know, whatever the crazy talk is. It wasn’t enough just to make people suspicious of – of expertise and authority, but to brainwash them that they were actually active enemies of the people.
NELSON: I would say that the strength of the Council for National Policy is to figure out what I call the raw nerves of our culture and to further inflame them. So right now, parents – with kids in public schools – are stressed on so many levels. Are the schools open or are they not open? Are there mandates? Are there not mandates? Can working mothers go to work if their kids aren’t in school? Right? These are real, real issues. And then you put on top of that our very difficult conversation nationally about race. When the Black Lives Matter protests happened, the way that the CNP’s media and other media systems played it was, “these are violent riots,” and they cherry picked photos of buildings and flame and violence in the streets and amplified it and exaggerated it. These were not invented or doctored photos, these things happened, it’s just that they happened as very, very few cases and very small percentage of the peaceful protests. But that’s not what their audience saw.
TUCKER CARLSON: This may be a lot of things this moment we’re living through, but it is definitely not about black lives. And remember that when they come for you, and at this rate, they will.
The rest of their conversation is HERE. Fascinating and horrifying, both.