The Trump Transition Team is continuing to shed moderates like former Rep. Mike Rogers in favor of hardliners and conspiracy theorists. Enter Frank Gaffney, an anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist.
Speaking to MSNBC on Wednesday morning, Trump spokesman Jason Miller said that Gaffney had not joined the team and is also not advising the transition team. However, when asked whether Gaffney had met with Trump in the past two days, Miller avoided answering.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Gaffney “was brought in to assist on national security issues” upon Rogers’ departure from the team. According to the New York Times, the team has started relying on “three hawkish current and former American officials: Representative Devin Nunes, Republican of California, who is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee; Peter Hoekstra, a former Republican congressman and former chairman of the Intelligence Committee; and Frank Gaffney, a Pentagon official during the Reagan administration and a founder of the Center for Security Policy.”
Gaffney has long advanced baseless conspiracy theories, including that President Obama might be a closet Muslim. The Southern Poverty Law Center has described him as “one of America’s most notorious Islamophobes.”
After being forced out of the Reagan administration nearly 30 years ago, he immediately began criticizing Ronald Reagan’s pursuit of an arms control agreement with the then-Soviet Union, starting down a path that has spiraled into wild conspiracy theories and extreme views, particularly against Muslims.
In 1988, Gaffney founded the Center for Security Policy. Over the years, particularly the Obama years, he has accused prominent government officials of being Islamic plants or of following Sharia law. He is perhaps most known for insisting that Obama administration officials, including Huma Abedin, are infiltrating the U.S. government on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic revival movement that organizes as a political party in places like Egypt.
In a series of columns in 2010, he claimed that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, then the dean of Harvard Law School, was trying to inject Islamic Sharia law into the country’s financial system. Gaffney also claimed that she was a cog in the “stealth jihad” machine helping the Muslim Brotherhood dismantle American capitalism. The columns ran alongside photoshopped images of Kagan wearing a turban.
He has even been banned from the Conservative Political Action Conference after, in 2010, he accused some of the organizer’s board members, including noted conservative and anti tax activist Grover Norquist of being agents of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Then-CPAC chair David Keene issued a statement saying that Gaffney had “become personally and tiresomely obsessed with his weird belief that anyone who doesn’t agree with him on everything all the time or treat him with the respect and deference he believes is his due, must be either ignorant of the dangers we face or, in extreme case, dupes of the nation’s enemies.”
He was also a birther even before Donald Trump became the leader of that movement. In a 2008 column, Gaffney said that Obama had “failed to provide an authentic birth certificate” despite the fact that his campaign released a copy of a birth certificate showing he was born in Hawaii. In 2012, he peddled in the fabricated quote that Obama admitted to not being born in the United States.
Gaffney even has claimed that a logo being used by the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency “appears ominously to reflect a morphing of the Islamic crescent and star with the Obama campaign logo.” He argued that the logo was evidence that Obama was trying to appease Islamic regimes.
And when Donald Trump stood in front of the nation last year and called for Muslims to be banned from entering the United States, he cited a poll from the Center for Security Policy.