The Council for National Policy (CNP), a highly secretive right-wing extremist group that is known to help draft policies for Republican presidents, organizes protests across the country in response to state lockdowns. The first protest, as far as we know, takes place April 20th in Pennsylvania.
CNP has been working with allies at other far-right organizations like FreedomWorks, the Heritage Foundation, Convention of States Action, and anti-LGBTQ group Eagle Forum to organize the protests online under names like “ReOpen PA” and “ReOpen America.” In June, when mosts states are already re-opened, the Facebook groups for the protests become the center of far-right conspiracy theories and calls to murder COVID-19 contact tracers.
The Save Our Country Task Force, a CNP initiative, has also been directing the Trump administration’s COVID-19 response efforts since at least early April. The task force is chaired by Trump economic adviser Art Laffer. Trump gave Laffer the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2019.
Much of the conversations from April through June are focused on how Trump should plan to win re-election despite the pandemic.
The Council for National Policy is so secretive that its members and event information are kept confidential, even though they play such a vital role in Republican presidencies. (Trump even tests his RNC speech at an event for CNP in August). CNP members have only been revealed thanks to a leak of 2014 members and a more recent leak of the 2018 membership list.
Other people connected to CNP that have been involved in conference calls and emails about the COVID-19 response and the protests include:
Robert Alt (Koch-funded Buckeye Institute)
Ed Meese (Heritage Foundation)
Stephen Moore (FreedomWorks, Heritage Foundation, Unleash Prosperity)
Lisa Nelson (ALEC – American Legislative Exchange Council)
Scott Rasmussen (conservative pollster)
Al Regnery (CNP’s Conservative Action Project)
Matt Schlapp (American Conservative Union)
Mercedes Schlapp (Trump Campaign senior adviser)
Tracie Sharp (State Policy Network)
Bill Walton (President, CNP)
Update: This was our first post about the Council for National Policy, but there are now many more here.
Photo: Paul Weaver