WASHINGTON ― Donald Trump is reportedly considering appointing Clare Lopez, an anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist, to serve as his deputy national security adviser.
Lopez is the vice president of the Center for Security Policy, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that focuses on the threat of Islamic jihad. She was on a short list of names that the Daily Caller reported as coming directly from the Trump transition team.
According to Lopez’s biography, she spent 20 years working for the Central Intelligence Agency before she became a popular writer for conservative websites like Breitbart News and World Net Daily. She served as an adviser to the presidential campaign of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and while she didn’t hold an official post within Trump’s campaign, the president-elect regularly cited her work to support his anti-Muslim positions.
Lopez and Frank Gaffney, the president of the Center for Security Policy, have both promoted the idea that the executive branch is teeming with Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters. Their conspiracies became popular during the age of Trump, with members of the alt-right spreading the discredited theories in order to justify their support of the president-elect.
In 2014, Lopez declared that President Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden shared the same vision for the Middle East. “The Obama administration very clearly has switched sides in the war on terror, what used to be called the war on terror,” Lopez said in an interview with the conservative site TruNews. “And we have provided arms and intelligence and funding and assistance and NATO warplanes to help al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Lopez regularly promotes the conspiracy that the Muslim Brotherhood has taken root within the United States government. “The infiltration is obviously very deep and very broad within the bureaucracy, not just the top level, but throughout the federal system, including the intelligence community,” Lopez said in a 2012 speech.
That someone who has peddled those beliefs would be a top national security adviser is a big concern, said Patrick Eddington, a policy analyst in homeland security and civil liberties at the Cato Institute.
“This isn’t ‘The X-Files,’” Eddington told The Huffington Post. “The last thing we need are alt-right conspiracy theorists in positions of responsibility in our government.”
Lopez called Abedin a “Muslim Brotherhood operative” and has intimated that Abedin, along with Obama, has assisted the Islamic organization.
“I think in the White House, in the president’s office, Barack Obama was motivated by a desire to elevate the Muslim Brotherhood to government across North Africa,” Lopez said in an interview with The United West organization, a hard-line conservative group. “I think that was ideological; it goes to the deep penetration by the Muslim Brotherhood of the Obama administration in many different positions of appointees and advisers, including Huma Abedin.”
Trump used Lopez’s report and comments to support some of his policy positions during his campaign.
“You know, by the way, take a look at where [Abedin] worked, by the way, and take a look at where her mother worked and works,” Trump said in August, referring to Abedin’s mother’s role as an editor of the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs. “You take a look at the whole event.”
Trump has also cited research from the Center for Security Policy dozens of times in press releases and speeches during his presidential campaign. When Trump called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, he justified it by citing a discredited CSP study that claimed to show that 25 percent of Muslims in the U.S. believe violence against America is justified “as part of the global jihad.”
Earlier this year, Lopez suggested that the United States must return to the era of communist-hunting Joe McCarthy to prevent an Islamist infiltration. McCarthy was “spot on” about communists infiltrating America in the 1950s, she said, and America should engage in a similar plan to get rid of Muslim extremists in “the top levels of national security in our government.”
Trump’s consideration of Lopez and his appointment of the controversial former Breitbart executive chairman Steve Bannon as a top adviser suggest Trump will not pivot away from the fringe elements of the conservative movement that he embraced during the election.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit organization that works to combat hate and discrimination, has labeled Lopez’s organization an anti-Muslim hate group. Heidi Beirich, who directs SPLC’s Intelligence Project, told The Huffington Post that Trump’s reported consideration of Lopez for a White House job was a “tragedy,” and “means nothing good for the Muslim American community.”
“We don’t want members of hate groups who have raging bigoted ideas about Muslims in the White House,” said Beirich. “That’s the last place they should be.”