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  • Indicted Trump confidant Roger Stone alleges the president is the victim of a “globalist” coup attempt

    Stone links his prosecution to an alleged coup attempt against Trump by a "globalist cabal"

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    During an appearance on conspiracy theory outlet Infowars, Roger Stone, a confidant of President Donald Trump, said that the president is the victim of a coup attempt. Stone also tried to delegitimize the Department of Justice (DOJ) and its special counsel office, the federal law enforcement division currently leading a criminal prosecution against Stone.

    During a February 18 appearance on The Alex Jones Show, Stone echoed recent comments made by Trump to allege that the president is the victim of a coup attempt orchestrated by “globalists” (a term historically tied to anti-Semitic sentiment) and the DOJ.

    Stone accused the FBI and DOJ Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein of “open sedition” and “treasonous activity” for a supposed plot to remove Trump from the presidency via the 25th Amendment, claiming the plot was undertaken as revenge for Trump breaking up “the globalist cabal.” (The 25th Amendment establishes a legal mechanism to remove the president from office if a majority of the cabinet secretaries plus the vice president determine he is unfit to serve.)

    Stone also implicated special counsel Robert Mueller’s office -- which is currently overseeing a probe that resulted in Stone’s indictment -- in the supposed coup attempt. Stone claimed that “there was a coup d’etat planned within the highest echelons of the FBI and the Obama Justice Department, and then they actually effectuated it under Donald Trump,” adding, “The Mueller investigation is the outgrowth of that same effort.”

    Stone was arrested on January 25 and charged with seven felonies as part of Mueller’s investigation. According to the charges, Stone lied to Congress about his dealings with WikiLeaks concerning emails hacked by Russia in the 2016 presidential election; obstructed an official proceeding; and intimidated a witness, radio host Randy Credico. Around the same time Stone was alleging on Infowars that there was a coup attempt against Trump, he posted an image to his Instagram account that showed Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is overseeing his criminal case, next to crosshairs. After getting blowback, Stone deleted the post and submitted a formal apology to the court. Stone, who is currently free on a signature bond, may have his conditions of release modified or revoked because of his post, depending on the outcome of a February 21 hearing.

    Throughout his February 18 Infowars appearance, Stone counseled Trump and flattered him in what seems like a possible attempt to angle for a pardon if he is convicted of the charges against him. Stone highlighted his efforts to counter arguments that Trump is incapacitated, saying, “If he’s so incapacitated, why do we have 4.8 million new jobs, for example?” He also backed Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the southern border, saying, “Trump is a leader” who is “keeping faith with the very people that voted for him.”

    Stone also advised Trump to take several actions relating to the DOJ, saying, “The president needs to immediately declassify all the information regarding the illicit use of FISA warrants to spy on his campaign, which is where this all began. The president needs to order his new attorney general to appoint a special counsel to examine not only the FISA warrants, but now to examine this illegal coup and to empanel a grand jury to grab those who were involved in it and bring them before that grand jury to begin the indictments for sedition. And lastly, the president needs to appoint a special counsel to examine the crimes of Uranium One.”

    He also painted himself as a victim of the same forces that he claims have entangled Trump, claiming, “I am a victim of the same witch hunt, the same effort that is being put forward to take down the president in an illicit coup is the same witch hunt which has indicted me, that is coming after Alex [Jones], that is running the campaign of censorship against Infowars. It’s all the same people. It’s the same globalist cabal.”

  • Alex Jones is souring on his indicted Infowars employee Roger Stone

    Jones: "Gateway Pundit can hire Roger"

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Conspiracy theorist and Infowars head Alex Jones is frustrated with Trump confidant Roger Stone because he thinks Stone gave a rival right-wing news outlet an “exclusive” about Stone’s criminal case.

    Stone, who is a co-host of the Infowars program War Room, was arrested on January 25 and charged with seven felonies as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. The charges allege Stone lied to Congress about his dealings with WikiLeaks concerning emails hacked by Russia in the 2016 presidential election; obstructed an official proceeding; and intimidated a witness, radio host Randy Credico.  

    Following Stone’s arrest, his first media appearance was on Infowars, and he has since appeared regularly on Infowars programs, including the show, War Room, that he co-hosts, to publicly litigate his criminal proceeding and fight with his critics. Stone has expressed fear at the possibility that he will be subject to a gag order and recently described his Infowars platform as “vital” to his criminal defense strategy.

    Now Stone has another problem, as his boss, Jones, has become angered that Stone shared an “exclusive” with far-right website The Gateway Pundit.

    The dispute centers around a February 13 motion filed by Stone’s legal team requesting a hearing concerning Stone’s allegation that the special counsel’s office improperly released Stone’s indictment before it was unsealed. Gateway Pundit was the first media outlet to publish a story about that filing, posting a piece bylined by Stone associate Jacob Engels.

    Discussing the Gateway Pundit story and the motion (which Jones initially mischaracterized as a “lawsuit against Robert Mueller”), a clearly perturbed Jones said during the February 13 broadcast of his show, “I like Roger as a friend, but he doles out exclusives ... some to Fox News, some to Daily Caller, and he works here. I pay his salary. … So I guess Roger Stone’s going to go to the woodshed here pretty soon.”

    Jones went on to say -- possibly facetiously -- that Stone now works for Gateway Pundit. He said, “This is a global exclusive. In the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, filed today, Roger Stone’s motion requesting a show cause order. So it’s on Gateway Pundit. Well that’s good. Gateway Pundit can hire Roger. … In fact, Roger Stone now works for the Gateway Pundit, which is good.”

    An annoyed Jones added, “People call us to find out what Roger’s up to and I just -- I can’t tell you; I don’t know. So Roger Stone now works for the Gateway Pundit, ladies and gentlemen -- seriously, as of about 10 seconds ago. I’m like, ‘Roger, get a job with the Gateway Pundit.’ Because -- here, let me check my other phone. I don’t want to go off half-cocked. Maybe he called this other phone and gave me the exclusive. Nope, doesn’t look like it.”

    Just the day before, Stone had emphasized how important his Infowars platform was to him. During the February 12 broadcast of War Room, Stone said that “one of the main reasons” he was indicted is that he works at Infowars. He went on to say, “I’ve told you about the vital role that Infowars plays in the strategy for my defense. If I can’t come here, if I can’t come on The Alex Jones Show, if I can’t come on the morning show with David Knight, if I can’t come on the War Room, then there’s no forum where I can really go to tell people the complete story about what’s going on.”

    Stone then said, “I guess the best thing to remind everybody is that please go to the Infowars store” to support the outlet’s operation. Then he transitioned into an extended pitch for a supplement called Brain Force that Infowars sells:
     

    ROGER STONE: One of the main reasons I think I’m targeted, Rob [Dew], is because I’m on Infowars. Because I work with you and Alex Jones and [War Room co-host] Owen Shroyer and [Infowars host] David Knight and so many others to bring people the stone cold truth, the unvarnished truth about what’s going on in the struggle against the globalists. And I’ve told you about the vital role that Infowars plays in the strategy for my defense. If I can’t come here, if I can’t come on The Alex Jones Show, if I can’t come on the morning show with David Knight, if I can’t come on the War Room, then there’s no forum where I can really go to tell people the complete story about what is going on. Everywhere else you appear you’re edited, you're censored, you're limited. But here at Infowars nobody tells us what we can and cannot say, nobody tells us what we can and cannot cover. We just go for where the facts lead us. So I guess the best thing to remind everybody is that please go to the Infowars store. It is vitally important that Infowars continue to thrive.  

    On February 13, after Jones complained about Stone giving away exclusives, Stone did not appear in his regular slot on War Room.

    Jones’ attack on Stone is the latest example of infighting at Infowars over Mueller’s investigation. Previously, Jones and Stone teamed up to feud with former Infowars D.C. bureau chief Jerome Corsi. Corsi, who is also entangled in Mueller’s probe of what happened with WikiLeaks, is referenced throughout Stone’s criminal indictment. Jones and Stone have sought to discredit Corsi’s public statements about the probe and in some cases even appear to have attempted to influence how Corsi testifies under oath to Mueller’s grand jury. For his part, Corsi, who is an obvious witness for Stone’s trial, has suggested Stone is guilty of witness tampering because of Stone’s interactions with him. Most recently, Corsi filed a lawsuit against Stone alleging Stone was attempting to induce him to have a heart attack or stroke by causing “emotional distress.”

  • The founder of this extremist armed militia had a front-row seat to Trump’s rally

    Stewart Rhodes and his Oath Keepers embrace white supremacist talking points and have provided security to far-right extremists while endorsing the use of “lethal force” against left-wing protesters

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and members of his far-right armed militia were spotted in the front row at President Donald Trump’s February 11 rally in El Paso, TX. Rhodes has advocated for training armed militias to do Trump’s bidding, embraced white supremacist conspiracy theories, endorsed using “lethal force” against left-wing protesters, and called on armed Oath Keepers to stand guard outside of schools and to spot unauthorized crossings at the U.S. southern border.

    Rhodes founded Oath Keepers “in the direct aftermath of the election of the nation’s first black president,” Barack Obama, in reaction to the baseless claim that the federal government was hellbent on destroying liberties protected by the Constitution. The militia holds radical anti-government beliefs and is made up of “current and formerly serving military, police, and first responders” claiming to uphold the oath they made to “support and defend the Constitution.”

    In reality, the group and its founder openly espouse radical beliefs. Some of these include calling transgender rights “nuts,” dismissing the racist use of blackface as “nonsense,” and claiming Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is using identity politics focused on “anyone not white” to “weaponize them against their own nation.” In the Obama years, the group promoted conspiracy theories such as "mass, forced internment into concentration camps" and claimed that they were operation to "prevent dictatorship" in the United States. In 2015, Rhodes reportedly said that Sen. John McCain "should be hung by the neck until dead"; Rhodes also was one of the far-right figures pushing the Jade Helm conspiracy theory. Rhodes also reportedly claimed that the Obama administration was using Ferguson riots and the Ebola virus to "spark a race war."

    Rhodes has repeatedly pushed baseless claims of massive voter fraud by undocumented immigrants and directed his armed militia to combat it. In the days leading up to the 2016 presidential election, he announced “Operation Sabot 2016,” and asked fellow Oath Keepers to “go out into public on election day, dressed to blend in with the public … with video, still camera, and notepad in hand, to look for and document suspected criminal vote fraud or intimidation activities.” While he asked that they not bring guns, the Oath Keepers are closely associated with open carry protests, including the open carrying of firearms during protests against police brutality in Ferguson, MO, in which armed members looked down from rooftops.

    After the February 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, Rhodes called on Oath Keepers to “post up armed outside your local school” and some members obliged.

    On December 5, Rhodes went on Alex Jones’ Infowars outlet to push the white supremacist talking point that a caravan of immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border was evidence of “globalists” (a term with anti-Semitic connotations) executing what he described as “the latest tactic or assault in an ongoing war on the West to flood us with Third World people and then overwhelm us and kill our countries.” He called for the Justice Department to indict “all these NGOs that are assisting these illegal aliens coming into the United States.” A similar white supremacist conspiracy theory that migrant caravans are the result of a Jewish plot to replace white people was embraced by the shooter who went into a synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA, and killed 11 Jewish people in October.

    Two days after Infowars posted Rhodes’ appearance, his group issued a “call to action” on Twitter, asking members to head to the southern border “to conduct surveillance and to spot and report any suspected illegal infiltration of the U.S.”

    Rhodes has also talked about forming an armed militia to do whatever Trump wants. During one of his frequent guest appearances on Infowars, Rhodes announced the launch of “a new program called Spartan training groups.” Rhodes said that the program is for “the average American” to learn combat skills to be available if “called out by the president of the United States to serve as a militia of the United States to secure the schools, protect our borders, or whatever else he asks them to do.”

    He also talked about the group’s involvement in providing security for far-right rallies and advocated for armed militias to recruit retired police for their nationwide concealed carry privileges as a “final line of lethal force” against anti-fascist protesters in any jurisdiction. Rhodes alluded to working alongside other violent extremist groups such as Patriot Prayer -- the group responsible for a cache of firearms found on a Portland, OR, rooftop in preparation for a protest last summer -- and the self-identified gang Proud Boys.

    In another appearance on Infowars, Rhodes hinted at the Oath Keepers murdering anti-Trump protesters, saying that left-wing protesters were coming close to “forcing” militias like his to have “no choice” but to “kill them.”

  • Far-right media smear Democratic women wearing suffragette white at State of the Union by comparing them to the KKK

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    After dozens of Democratic congresswomen wore “suffragette white” to the 2019 State of the Union address, some far-right media figures smeared them by comparing them to the Ku Klux Klan.

    Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL) wrote on Twitter that she and some of her colleagues were wearing white outfits to “honor all those who came before us & send a message of solidarity that we're not going back on our hard-earned rights!”

    Far-right media seized on the pro-women’s rights action by depicting the congresswomen as members of the KKK.

    Far-right troll Jack Posobiec wrote, “I haven’t seen so many Demcorats (sic) dressed in white since Republicans freed their slaves”:

    During an Infowars broadcast covering the State of the Union speech, a doctored image depicted Klan hoods on the congresswomen while host Alex Jones said, “You wait until those women are running the country for foreign banks and the Chicoms and up against the Russians and everybody else. I mean, my God. Look at them. I mean, this is pathetic.”

    Other Infowars personalities made similar claims on Twitter.

    Ann Coulter promoted a tweet from right-wing New York radio host Mark Simone that depicted the women as wearing Klan hoods:

    Turning Point USA’s Richard Armande Mills wrote, “All they’re missing are hoods and grand-wizard [Virginia Gov. Ralph] Northam to lead the way.”

    Pro-Trump YouTuber Joey Salads also likened the congresswomen to the KKK:

  • Dan Bongino’s rise from the swamps of Infowars and NRATV to contributor at Fox News

    ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Dan Bongino, the latest addition to Fox News’ lineup of contributors, is a former NRATV host and tea party congressional candidate who honed his conspiracy theories on the fringe platform Infowars. He is now bringing his attacks and smears on the investigation into whether President Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election to Trump’s favorite network.  

  • Roger Stone tries to explain his witness tampering charge: I advised Randy Credico to plead the Fifth so his liberal friends wouldn’t get mad at him for helping Trump

    Indictment against Stone says he told Credico to “prepare to die” and threatened to take his therapy dog

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Trump confidant Roger Stone has a laughably innocuous explanation for the actions that led him to be charged with corruptly influencing comedian and radio host Randy Credico’s interactions with the House intelligence committee.

    Prior to his arrest on January 25, Stone was under investigation over whether he had inside information about emails hacked by Russia and then released by WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential election. Specifically, investigators on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team looked at whether Stone used Credico and conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi (whom Stone is now feuding with) as intermediaries between himself and WikiLeaks.

    Following his arrest, Stone was charged with seven crimes: five counts of making false statements to Congress about his interactions with WikiLeaks, one count of obstructing an official proceeding, and one count of witness tampering for attempting to corruptly persuade Credico, who is referred to throughout the indictment as “Person 2," to provide certain testimony before the House intelligence committee.

    Stone attempted to explain away the witness tampering charge during an appearance on Alex Jones’ Infowars outlet. Stone, who also co-hosts Infowars program War Room, discussed the charge during the show’s January 28 broadcast.

    In Stone’s telling, the repeated attempts documented in the indictment that show him urging Credico to assert his rights against self-incrimination or to lie under oath were merely suggestions to prevent Credico’s liberal friends from getting mad at him for supporting President Donald Trump:

    ROGER STONE: There is a tremendous rush to judgment by attorneys who have never read my entire testimony and therefore can’t see the context of anything. To the extent, for example, Stone told Credico, a witness, to plead the fifth. Yes, when he said, “My left-wing friends, my progressive friends are going to go crazy when [they] find out that I helped you. They’re going to think we helped elect Trump. I don’t know what to do.” To which I said, “Well, you have the option of pleading the fifth.” I didn’t tell him to do it; I said it was possible.

    Stone’s innocent retelling of his interactions with Credico is at odds with the indictment, and it belies reason that Stone was merely helping Credico avoid having his friends become upset with him. What seems more likely is that Stone was worried Credico would implicate him in a crime.

    The indictment includes several instances of Stone urging Credico to assert his right against self-incrimination. According to the indictment, Stone told Credico, “Stonewall it. Plead the fifth. Anything to save the plan,” apparently referencing a statement made by President Richard Nixon while attempting to hinder the Watergate investigation. Stone also repeatedly told Credico to be like Frank Pentangeli, a character in The Godfather: Part II. In the film, Pentangeli, a mobster in the Corleone crime family, lies to a congressional committee about protagonist Michael Corleone's role as the head of that organization, covering up Corleone's own perjury before that committee. (An imprisoned Pentangeli later commits suicide after being assured the Corleones will take care of his family.)

    The indictment shows that Stone later became angry with Credico for repeatedly balking at his advice and exhorting Stone to testify truthfully. Stone called Credico a “rat” and a “stoolie,” threatened to take away his therapy dog, and told him, “Let’s get it on. Prepare to die [expletive].” (In May, Stone explained his “prepare to die” comment to Mother Jones by saying, “He told me he had terminal prostate cancer.”)

    Stone and an Infowars crew traveled to Washington, D.C., for his January 29 arraignment at which Stone pleaded not guilty. The conspiracy theory outlet is using Facebook’s live-streaming feature as its primary counter-messaging measure in Stone’s legal troubles. While Facebook banned several pages associated with Alex Jones last year for repeatedly violating community guidelines, the page for the show Stone co-hosts, War Room, remains active.

  • After Roger Stone was released from custody, his first stop was The Alex Jones Show

    Stone: “There is no circumstance under which I would plead guilty to these charges. There’s no circumstance in which I would bear false witness against the president.”

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    President Donald Trump confidant Roger Stone’s first media appearance following his departure from a courtroom -- where he was charged with several crimes related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation -- was on Alex Jones’ Infowars outlet, which employs Stone as a show host.

    During his appearance, Stone denied committing crimes, repeatedly promoted his legal defense fund, and promised that he would never testify against Trump.

    Stone was arrested the morning of January 25 and charged with five counts of making false statements, one count of obstructing a proceeding, and one count of witness tampering. He had been under investigation by the special counsel’s office over whether he had inside information about emails hacked by Russia and then released by WikiLeaks in the 2016 election cycle.

    Stone, who co-hosts the Infowars program War Room, gave a lengthy phone interview to Jones, which he started by saying, “I can say I’ve had greater, better moments -- better mornings, shall we say.” He went on to describe the early morning raid of his home and denied committing any crimes.

    Claiming that the special counsel’s office tried to “destroy [him] financially” to force him to plead guilty to “completely bogus” charges, Stone asked viewers to contribute to his legal defense fund. For his part, Alex Jones claimed the charges are part of an effort to “mak[e] journalism illegal.”

    Stone went on to say, “There is no circumstance under which I would plead guilty to these charges,” and added, “There’s no circumstance in which I would bear false witness against the president.” Trump previously encouraged Stone not to testify against him, leading to accusations of witness tampering.

    When Jones asked if he had a statement for Trump, Stone said, “Once again, there is no evidence of Russian collusion, WikiLeaks collaboration, and I’m not charged with doing anything inappropriate or illegal to assist in his election, even though I think I’m being persecuted for being a 40-year friend and supporter of his.”

    During a later segment, Stone again promoted his legal defense fund, claiming he will have $2 million in legal fees. There were technical difficulties on Stone’s phone line that interrupted the interview, and Jones speculated that someone might be breaking into his phone or cutting his line to silence him.

  • Mueller target Jerome Corsi was allegedly being paid $15,000 a month by Alex Jones’ Infowars until last week

    Corsi claims special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating payments he received from Infowars

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Jerome Corsi, a conspiracy theorist who has become entangled in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, was earning $15,000 a month from Alex Jones’ Infowars outlet until last week, according to a legal complaint filed by Corsi.

    In recent weeks, Corsi has been in a protracted battle with Infowars, which employed him as the outlet’s Washington, D.C., bureau chief between January 2017 and June 2018. Beginning in September 2018, after Corsi was subpoenaed to testify before Mueller’s grand jury, Infowars took several actions that appeared to be attempts to influence Corsi’s testimony in a way favorable to Infowars host and Trump confidante Roger Stone. (Stone, like Corsi, is under investigation over whether he had foreknowledge of emails hacked by Russia and then released by WikiLeaks in the 2016 election cycle.) Then in November, as Corsi’s legal troubles worsened, Infowars turned on him, with Stone and Infowars head Alex Jones using the outlet to viciously attack Corsi as a traitor.

    To read more about the dispute between Corsi and Infowars, how Infowars suggested Corsi testify before Mueller’s grand jury, Infowars’ subsequent attacks, and how Stone and Corsi garnered Mueller’s attention in the first place, click here.

    The latest flare-up in the Infowars-Corsi dispute occurred on January 18, when Infowars.com published an article stating, “The Washington Post is set to publish a false story claiming that Jerome Corsi was hired by Infowars at the behest of Roger Stone as part of a ‘hush money’ operation and that this is a line of inquiry for the Mueller investigation into Russian collusion.” The Infowars article claimed that the outlet fired Corsi in June 2018 for poor performance and gave him six months of severance pay.

    Corsi subsequently also claimed that the money he was receiving from Infowars wasn’t a hush payment, though he alleged that he was fired just last week. Corsi’s claims came via a legal filing in which he added The Washington Post as an additional defendant in a lawsuit he filed in December against Mueller and various federal agencies; he is claiming Mueller is violating his Fourth Amendment rights and attempting to force him to lie about Trump. (Corsi is being represented in the lawsuit by crackpot attorney Larry Klayman.)

    In Corsi’s January 21 amended complaint, he says a Washington Post reporter called “to question him about information that Defendant WaPo had obtained from unspecified sources in the Office of the Special Counsel that Defendant Mueller was investigating monthly payments, which were characterized falsely and maliciously published as hush payments to Dr. Corsi so he would not provide ‘incriminating evidence,’ about Alex Jones, InfoWars and Roger Stone before Defendant Mueller and the grand jury.”

    Corsi’s complaint alleges that rather than being hush money, the payments were legitimate, but that after the Post began investigating them, “the very next day Plaintiff Corsi learned from [Alex Jones’ father and Infowars employee] Dr. David Jones that he was being terminated and would no longer be receiving $15,000 per month.” Corsi’s claim that he was terminated only last week is at odds with Infowars’ claim he was fired in June 2018 and was then paid a severance:

    The complaint goes on to allege that the defendants -- The Washington Post, Mueller, the Department of Justice, the FBI, the NSA, and the CIA -- are attempting to bankrupt Corsi in order to force him into giving false testimony to Mueller’s team:
     

    In November, Corsi shared a plea agreement from Mueller’s office that would have had Corsi plead guilty to lying to the FBI while being questioned about the WikiLeaks matter. Corsi said he rejected the agreement. On January 15, it was reported that several Corsi associates, including his stepson, had also been subpoenaed by Mueller’s team.

    Corsi, Stone, and Alex Jones are all inveterate liars and conspiracy theorists, so it is difficult to evaluate the veracity of their claims in the ongoing dispute, but the fact that Corsi is alleging in federal court that Mueller is investigating Infowars payments is an eye-popping development.

  • In an apparent bid to protect Roger Stone, Infowars has been waging a war on former employee Jerome Corsi

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Alex Jones’ Infowars outlet is waging a public relations campaign against its own former Washington, D.C., bureau chief Jerome Corsi, who appears to be increasingly entangled in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

    After reports surfaced on September 5 that Corsi had been subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury convened by Mueller, Infowars used its website and social media account to signal how Corsi should testify. The since-suspended Infowars Twitter account tweeted on September 5, “Want to know what former InfoWars DC bureau Cheif (sic) Jerry Corsi will tell Mueller’s grand jury?” The tweet linked a 2017 Infowars article authored by Corsi that attempted to defend Donald Trump confidant and Infowars host Roger Stone -- who is also embroiled in the Mueller investigation -- against accusations that Stone was involved in the release of emails that Russian intelligence officers stole from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. The implicit suggestion of the tweet was that Corsi, a former Infowars employee, should give testimony absolving Stone, a current Infowars employee, of any wrongdoing.

    The Infowars tweet presaging Corsi’s testimony echoed a tactic employed by President Donald Trump during Mueller’s investigation. On December 3, Trump tweeted: “‘I will never testify against Trump.’ This statement was recently made by Roger Stone, essentially stating that he will not be forced by a rogue and out of control prosecutor to make up lies and stories about ‘President Trump.’ Nice to know that some people still have ‘guts!’”

    Trump’s public coercion of Stone raised questions about whether the tweet constituted criminal witness tampering.

    Later, as Corsi’s legal woes increased -- beginning in November when Corsi said he expected to be indicted -- Infowars turned on him and labeled him a traitor, with Stone driving the majority of attacks.

    In evaluating the conflict between Infowars and Corsi, it’s hard to know whose claims about the hacked emails to believe -- if any -- because the major players are all inveterate liars. But it's clear that after trying to play nice with Corsi, Infowars has taken out its knives.

    How Corsi and Stone got tangled in Mueller's investigation

    Corsi and Stone are both reportedly under investigation by Mueller’s team for the same reason. On October 7, 2016, WikiLeaks released emails stolen from Podesta just hours after news broke of a 2005 recording in which Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women. According to U.S. intelligence agencies, the emails were hacked by individuals working on behalf of the Kremlin. Part of Mueller’s investigation is to determine if Trump associates colluded with Russia, and Corsi and Stone’s contacts with WikiLeaks in 2016 have brought them both under scrutiny. Stone, who testified about WikiLeaks before a closed session of the House Intelligence Committee in September 2017, has denied having knowledge of the hacked emails before they were released, but he has also offered an ever-changing story in public remarks about what happened in 2016. Corsi is under investigation because Mueller reportedly has emails suggesting that he served as an intermediary between Stone and Wikileaks.

    Background: Jerome Corsi and Infowars

    Corsi, a conspiracy theorist best known for driving the “birther” smear about President Barack Obama that Trump later championed, joined Infowars as the outlet’s Washington, D.C., bureau chief on January 30, 2017. Corsi had spent years working at conspiracy website WND, and he was friendly with Infowars prior to joining the outlet. (For example, a July 2015 Infowars article references an appearance Corsi made on The Alex Jones Show in support of then-candidate Trump.)

    Corsi’s role with Infowars helped the fringe outlet gain additional access within the Trump administration. In May 2017, Infowars announced that Corsi had been granted temporary credentials to attend press briefings at the White House, and controversy quickly erupted because of the outlet’s history of pushing conspiracy theories about the 2012 Sandy Hook mass shooting and numerous other tragedies. Sure enough, on May 22, 2017, Corsi broadcast live from an empty James S. Brady Press Briefing Room and discussed his hopes of obtaining a permanent pass. Infowars founder Alex Jones, clearly pleased with the imbroglio, told his listeners that the press pass wasn’t that important because “most of the meetings don’t happen at briefings, they happen at dinners, like he was at one with the vice president a few nights ago,” adding, “Oop, maybe I’m not supposed to say that.”

    In March 2018, when Corsi still worked at Infowars, he threw a major on-air tantrum about Mueller. Corsi was upset about reports that the FBI had recently detained and questioned Ted Malloch at the direction of Mueller’s team. Malloch, an informal Trump campaign adviser and frequent Infowars guest, was reportedly questioned about Stone and about WikiLeaks’ release of the hacked Podesta emails. (When Malloch was detained, Infowars called him an “Infowars Correspondent” in an article.)   

    Corsi repeatedly tweeted about the detention on March 28 and 29, writing that he was going to “POUND” Mueller, claiming, “MUELLER in PANIC MODE grabs Ted Malloc (sic),” and writing that he was joining an “EMERGENCY BROADCAST” on Infowars to talk about the detention. In an appearance on the March 29 broadcast of The Alex Jones Show, Corsi challenged Mueller to a fistfight, saying, “I'm fed up with this. I want to say to Mueller, let's go out in the backyard of the Justice Department. You got to have some -- let's duke it out. I mean, you want to behave like a thug? … Well this is what you deserve.”

    Perhaps it was Corsi who was in “PANIC MODE.” In November, it was revealed that Mueller is in possession of emails that suggest Corsi and Stone knew that WikiLeaks had Podesta’s stolen emails before they were released. Stone emailed Corsi in 2016 telling him to “get to” WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and Corsi forwarded the message to Malloch before later reporting back to Stone to share what he said Assange’s future plans were.

    A January 17 Infowars article claimed that Corsi was dismissed by the outlet in June 2018 “because of his failure to adequately establish a Washington bureau, his failure to maintain White House press credentials, and his generally poor work performance.” The article further claimed that “The Washington Post is set to publish a false story claiming that Jerome Corsi was hired by Infowars at the behest of Roger Stone as part of a ‘hush money’ operation and that this is a line of inquiry for the Mueller investigation into Russian collusion.”

    Did Infowars attempt to influence Corsi’s testimony before Mueller’s grand jury?

    Infowars’ response to the September 5 report that Corsi had been compelled to testify could easily be interpreted as an attempt to influence Corsi’s dealings with Mueller’s team. The since-suspended Infowars Twitter account tweeted on September 5:

    The tweet linked to an Infowars.com article authored by Corsi and published in March 2017, which denied that Stone had anything to do with WikiLeaks’ release of hacked emails.

    Then on September 12, Infowars published a video with the headline “What Will Jerome Corsi Tell Mueller’s Grand Jury?” that teased Stone’s appearance with “Alex Jones live via Skype to discuss former Infowars Bureau Chief Dr. Jerome Corsi’s upcoming testimony before Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s grand jury.” In the video, both Jones and Stone claimed that they had not spoken to Corsi since Mueller subpoenaed him. Stone went on to say that if Corsi testified “truthfully,” it would be “entirely exculpatory” for him “because you see it was Dr. Corsi who educated me to the fact that Tony Podesta along with his brother John were deeply involved in Ukraine.” Stone’s reference to Podesta and Ukraine is an attempt to argue that his infamous August 2016 tweet that “it will soon the Podesta’s time in the barrel” was not a reference to having foreknowledge of the hacked emails, but instead referred to a different matter. As with the September 5 Infowars tweet, the article and video appear to pressure Corsi to testify in a certain way about Stone.

    Infowars turns on Corsi

    As Corsi’s legal troubles worsened over the following months -- on November 26, Corsi said he would reject a plea deal from Mueller, and in January, it was reported that several Corsi associates, including his stepson, had also been subpoenaed -- Infowars turned on its former Washington, D.C., bureau chief. A search of Infowars.com shows headlines about Corsi began to take on a more negative tone in November (i.e., “Explosive! Roger Stone Responds To Corsi’s Flip-Flop Concerning Working With Assange”).

    In January, Infowars has turned up the heat even more. On January 2, it published an article with the headline “Roger Stone Believes Jerome Corsi Works for Mueller,” and on January 17, it posted an article titled “Roger Stone Explains His Beef With Jerome Corsi and Larry Klayman.” The outlet also promoted a video where “Roger Stone calls out Jerome Corsi for lying about fabricating a cover story together to hide foreknowledge of Wikileaks publishing of the Podesta emails.”

    Here’s a list of all the Infowars headlines and subheads mentioning Corsi since September:

    September 2018

    [9/5/18]

    [9/12/18]

    November 2018

    [11/26/18]

    [11/27/18]

    [11/27/18]

    [11/27/18]

    [11/28/18]

    [11/28/18]

    [11/29/18]

    [11/30/18]

    January 2019

    [1/2/19]

    [1/17/19]

    Infowars broadcasts have followed a similar pattern; the January 2 broadcast of The Alex Jones Show was advertised with the tagline: “Joining today’s broadcast is Roger Stone breaking down what he calls the ‘treachery’ of Dr. Jerome Corsi.”

    Jones set up Stone’s appearance by making a number of very personal attacks on his former employee Corsi. He began by claiming that “I don’t go after Corsi with any pleasure” before saying that he fired Corsi after encountering him at a Washington, D.C., restaurant “drunk off his ass.” Jones also said that Corsi started “talking massive crap about me, Roger, everybody” at the restaurant, that Corsi is a “lunatic,” that he is “like fruit, his expiration date has hit,” and that he has no respect for Corsi.

    For his part, Stone said that Corsi “was perfectly willing to bear false witness against me on multiple points that are complete fabrications.” Jones ended the segment with a rant, screaming, “I will not sit there and watch some piece of crap Russian agent like Mueller accuse [Stone] and me of being goddamn -- I said I wouldn’t do it, lord, I apologize -- accuse me of something I haven’t done. I’m sick of it.”

    Update (1/22/19): Corsi sued The Washington Post on January 21 and alleged in a civil complaint that he had remained on the Infowars payroll until January 18, earning $15,000 a month. He claims that the payments were terminated after a Washington Post reporter made inquiries about them at Infowars.

  • 2018 was marked by anti-abortion extremism, lies, and harassment

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE TULBERT


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Anti-abortion figures and right-wing media continued to push misinformation about reproductive health in 2018 and tried to insert abortion into nearly every major news story -- no matter how tenuous the connection. The past year also included ample efforts by anti-choice groups to influence federal policy under President Donald Trump, as well as several anti-abortion acts of harassment and violence. Here are some lowlights of anti-abortion extremism this year:

    Right-wing and anti-abortion media attempted to distract from various news stories by drawing inaccurate comparisons to or blaming abortion

    As the Trump presidency entered its second year, right-wing and anti-abortion media attempted to deflect from the administration’s various crises by drawing ridiculous comparisons to reproductive rights or blaming abortion.

    Parkland shooting and the gun-control debate


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    • After a February 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, left 17 dead, Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan compared the debate around gun violence prevention policies to calls from the anti-abortion movement to restrict access to abortions after 20 weeks. Noonan argued that lawmakers should “trade banning assault weapons for banning late-term abortion. Make illegal a killing machine and a killing procedure. In both cases the lives of children would be saved.”
    • LifeNews.com’s Steven Ertelt tweeted:
    • During a February 22 appearance on Fox News’ Fox News @ Night, Townhall's Guy Benson talked about the supposed media bias of outlets reporting on the NRA’s political donations but not covering donations from Planned Parenthood’s political arm.
    • Writing for Townhall, conservative blogger Erick Erickson also compared Planned Parenthood to the NRA, saying that “elite opinion makers in America champion Planned Parenthood, which actually does kill thousands of children each year, while savaging the National Rifle Association, which has never killed a child and whose members have actually saved others' lives.”
    • On the March 1 edition of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight, host Tucker Carlson asked Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI), “What would drive a 19-year-old to want to murder strangers?” In response, Duffy partly blamed abortion, saying, “We dehumanize life in those video games and in those movies, and with abortion.”
    • During the March 2 edition of Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle, host Laura Ingraham claimed that people should be angier about Planned Parenthood performing abortions than about the role that the NRA plays in facilitating easier access to firearms. Ingraham stated, “If we're going to judge people based on an organization’s blood spilled, well, I hope Planned Parenthood is going to lose all of its partnerships or affiliations given the fact that we have about 57 million babies who never got to see the light of day.”
    • During the March 4 edition of Fox News’ Fox and Friends Weekend, conservative radio host Kathy Barnette said that although the Parkland shooter “killed 17 little souls on that day, but Planned Parenthood kills over 800 babies on a daily basis, and where is the moral outrage on that?”

    Family separation policy


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    • On the June 18 edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, Carlson attacked Democrats for opposing the Trump administration’s policy requiring the separation of immigrant children from their parents as they cross the U.S. border, saying that the “same people who support third-term, post-viability abortion for purposes of sex selection” were “lecturing” others about “the holiness of children.”
    • Rep. Steve King (R-IA) tweeted:
    • On Westwood One’s The Mark Levin Show, host Mark Levin said that “suddenly the Democrats care about children” after Trump’s family separation policy went into effect. Levin went on to claim inaccurately that “when it comes to abortion,” Democrats support it “right up to the last second. It can be eight months, 29 days, and they still support abortion.”
    • Anti-abortion outlet LifeNews.com responded to a tweet from Planned Parenthood saying children shouldn’t be separated from their parents by alleging that Planned Parenthood was “ignoring how its own practices permanently and violently separate children from their fathers and mothers” and that the organization “does that 876 times a day in abortions.”
    • An article on the website for CRTV’s Louder with Crowder claimed that Planned Parenthood “separates babies from mothers every day. With surgical brutality. These babies are not being stored in chain-linked cages, waiting for processing. Planned Parenthood stores their children in jars. A calvarium in one jar, legs in another. Parts shipped, and sold, separately.”
    • Media Research Center’s Dan Gainor posted this since-deleted tweet:

    Confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    • On September 16, The Washington Post published an exclusive interview with Christine Blasey Ford, sharing her previously anonymous account of being assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh when they were both in high school. On September 17, Erick Erickson wrote a post claiming that "the left" was amplifying her account as a tactic to keep abortion legal: “This entire thing is about the right to kill kids, not about the veracity of the accusation.” He continued, “The left is perfectly willing to destroy a man's reputation in order to keep destroying children,” adding that Democrats would use an “uncorroborated, single sourced, 35 year old claim … to protect the right to kill girls in utero.”
    • During the September 17 edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, Carlson made a similar argument, claiming that Ford’s report came out only because Kavanaugh would likely be the deciding vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. “Does anyone really believe this story would have surfaced if Brett Kavanaugh had pledged allegiance to Roe v. Wade?” he asked. “Of course it wouldn't have. … Whatever the story is, it's not about protecting women. Don't buy that spin.”
    • From the Washington Examiner:

    • Micaiah Bilger, who writes for anti-abortion outlet LifeNews.com, tweeted at the Planned Parenthood Action Fund account: “If allegations are enough to disqualify someone from something, shouldn't all the allegations against you, Planned Parenthood, disqualify you from getting half a billion of our tax dollars every year?”
    • Anti-abortion group Operation Rescue tweeted a link to a bizarre website that claimed Ford’s account was politically motivated because of the potential impact Kavanaugh’s confirmation would have on the production of a so-called abortion pill. This is a false claim attempting to conflate her research for a pharmaceutical company that developed mifepristone to treat hyperglycemia related to Cushing's syndrome with pills used in medication abortions:
    • On Fox & Friends, Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera said that Ford’s motivation was “all about abortion” because “Kavanaugh is a pro-life guy and this is what it's all about.”
    • Right-wing site RedState argued: “The whole reason Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is in the crosshairs of a sexual assault allegation ... is because the left is 100 percent focused on making sure their ability to abort children and profit from it goes uninterrupted.”
    • Religious news site The Stream wrote, “The anti-Kavanaughs — i.e. the Left, the Democrats — could not care less whether he’s innocent or guilty.” Rather, “this is about abortion. It’s about the larger sexual ideology as well, but abortion first and foremost,” because “abortion is both sacrament and god” to those groups.

    Some right-wing media and anti-abortion groups pushed extremist narratives or engaged in harassment

    Harassment, extremism, and violence are not new tactics to the anti-abortion movement. But 2018 featured some particularly notable instances when anti-abortion groups and right-wing media engaged in perpetuating harmful misinformation, conspiracy theories, and extreme narratives about abortion, or fueled anti-abortion harassment:


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    • In January, the extreme anti-abortion group Operation Rescue started signal-boosting a series of posts targeting Planned Parenthood originating from a far-right message board on 8chan as the organization began delving into the QAnon conspiracy theory. The group leaders Troy Newman and Cheryl Sullenger -- the latter having served time for conspiring to bomb an abortion clinic -- further slid into full embrace of the QAnon conspiracy theory over the course of the year.
    • The founders of a group connected to Operation Rescue, Abortion Free New Mexico, also started promoting QAnon-related conspiracies, which the outlet New Mexico Political Report called “a concerning shift in focus and organizing, contradicting their stated goals of non-violence and inclusive outreach.”


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    • In March, National Review writer Kevin Williamson was hired by The Atlantic even though Williamson had previously expressed misogynistic and homophobic viewpoints. Among these was his statement that “women who have had abortions should face capital punishment, namely hanging.” After initially defending Williamson’s hiring as an exercise in ideological diversity, Atlantic Editor-in-Chief Jeffrey Goldberg announced in April that the outlet was “parting ways” with Williamson. In particular, Goldberg noted that Williamson’s doubling down on his argument that those who have had abortions should be hanged -- made in a podcast uncovered by Media Matters the day before Williamson’s firing -- “runs contrary to The Atlantic’s tradition of respectful, well-reasoned debate, and to the values of our workplace.”
    • On June 1, right-wing outlet Infowars livestreamed a protest at a Planned Parenthood clinic the day after the anniversary of the murder of abortion provider Dr. George Tiller. This stunt continued a long line of right-wing media fostering or encouraging anti-abortion harassment, including the 2015 Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooter who had a penchant for right-wing media such as Fox News and Infowars.
    • In November, right-wing media and anti-abortion figures had a tantrum over what they called a "horrible new ad” attributed to Planned Parenthood -- despite the so-called ad actually being a 2015 video from a political action committee, not Planned Parenthood. However, as conservative figures continued to express disgust, people on social media started to make threats of violence against the health care organization citing shares of the 2015 video online.

    Right-wing media celebrated the Supreme Court giving a boost to anti-abortion fake health clinics

    Fake health clinics (also known as anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers) engage in deception and manipulation in their advertising and interactions with clients with the goal of stopping that person from accessing an abortion. This year, fake health clinics were front and center at the Supreme Court in a case called National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra. The Supreme Court decided in favor of the NIFLA, stopping the implementation of a California law designed to deter some of the manipulative practices of these fake health clinics. Right-wing media celebrated the decision as a “win” for free speech:


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    • National Review’s editors lamented that the vote was only 5-4, writing that it “should not have been a narrow one,” and that the closeness occurred because “four of the Court’s justices were so hell-bent on promoting the manufactured right to abortion that they were prepared to jettison” the right to free speech. The editors called the California law “an obvious and malicious violation of the First Amendment” and argued that it was “perhaps the best example of the rapidly growing extremism of the abortion-rights movement.”
    • National Review's Alexandra DeSanctis:
    • The Catholic Association’s Andrea Picciotti-Bayer wrote an op-ed for Fox News arguing that the decision “vindicates women and the pregnancy centers who help them” because “the most important service found at a pregnancy center is caring.”
    • In a Newsmax article titled “SCOTUS Gives America a Free Speech, Pro-Life Birthday Gift,” Priests for Life National Director Frank Pavone celebrated the NIFLA decision as “a victory to the fundamental rights which America promised to guarantee at its inception.”
    • Alliance Defending Freedom’s Jessica Prol Smith wrote for The Federalist that "even Americans who call themselves ‘pro choice’ can celebrate this court’s decision to protect authentic options and protect freedom for a woman to choose motherhood.”

    Anti-abortion groups continued to push misinformation about abortion and to allege that they were being censored to rally support and raise money

    Anti-abortion groups continued to promote misinformation on reproductive rights and to use claims that they were being censored by social media companies and news outlets as a tactic to rally support and raise money:


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    • In honor of the annual anti-abortion rally the March for Life, right-wing outlets published several articles claiming that the anti-choice movement has science on its side. For example, Fox News’ opinion page published an article by Lauren DeBellis Appell about the March for Life that praised the anti-abortion movement and said it was “winning” in the United States because of technological advancements, including ultrasounds. Christianity Today similarly quoted Denise Harle, legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, as saying that “science and technology are on our side” specifically in the context of the myth that fetuses feel pain at 20 weeks. As The Atlantic noted in a January 18 piece, the anti-abortion movement’s embrace of science could be seen as a “dramatic reversal” because “pro-choice activists have long claimed science for their own side.” Demonstrating support for this view among anti-abortion groups, the January 18 article was picked up by organizations such as the March for Life, Democrats for Life, and the Charlotte Lozier Institute. The March for Life rally adopted the idea that “pro-life is pro-science” as part of its official theme for 2019.
    • Anti-abortion outlet LifeSiteNews asked for donations in light of supposed censorship by social media companies. The site posted in March 2018 about the “surprising and disturbing reason why LifeSite’s Spring campaign is struggling.” The reason, according to LifeSiteNews, “is an almost declared war by the globalist social media giants – Facebook, Google, Twitter and YouTube against websites, blogs and individuals who promote conservative views.” LifeSiteNews pleaded to its readers, writing, “To those of you who were not blocked from reading this letter, we are depending on you much more than normal to help us to reach our goal.” Unsurprisingly, the outlet provided zero evidence of the censorship it was allegedly experiencing.
    • Following Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress in April 2018, anti-abortion organization Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) emailed supporters to detail instances where the group claimed to have been censored by social media companies. SBA List then asked supporters to “please make a generous donation of $250 to help win the fight against pro-abortion Silicon Valley elites!”
    • On October 24, SBA List tweeted that Facebook was “censoring” the organization because it had pulled two of its 2018 midterm elections ads which urged people to “vote pro-life” and to oppose a candidate who allegedly “supports painful late-term abortions.” After the ads were pulled, the group sent out a fundraising email asking people to “Please RUSH a contribution … to help us fight back and get this ad in front of voters in key swing-states DESPITE the ongoing censorship of pro-life voices by the abortion lobby.” SBA List also tweeted that “deleting these ads just weeks before the midterm elections advances the pro-abortion argument" and again claimed that “censoring a #prolife ad that respectfully exposes the brutality of late abortions” meant that Facebook was “publicly taking a stand that they SUPPORT painful late-term abortions of VIABLE children.”


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    • A 12-month-long Media Matters study of evening cable news programs found that Fox News dominated discussions of abortion and reproductive rights, but the network’s coverage was wrong 77 percent of the time about four common abortion-related topics: the discredited anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress (CMP), abortion funding rules, Planned Parenthood’s essential services, and so-called extreme abortion procedures.
    • On One America News Network’s Tipping Point with Liz Wheeler, host Liz Wheeler frequently alleged that liberals were ignoring right-wing anti-abortion conspiracy theories about Planned Parenthood misusing federal funds, supposedly promoting abortion for profit, or engaging in the cover-up of sexual abuse of minors.

    Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services continued to be a hot bed for anti-abortion groups and misinformation

    Last year, Media Matters documented how Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was filled with appointees promoting anti-choice “alternative science” about contraception and abortion. While some of those people have moved to other areas of the administration or just moved on, Trump’s HHS has continued to employ and promote the work of anti-abortion movement darlings in 2018:

    • In January, Politico reported that people like Roger Severino, the head of the Office of Civil Rights in HHS, and Shannon Royce, the director of the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, are part of “a small cadre of politically prominent religious activists inside” HHS who “have spent months quietly planning how to weaken federal protections for abortion and transgender care — a strategy that's taking shape in a series of policy moves that took even their own staff by surprise.” Royce used to be chief of staff and chief operations officer at the anti-LGBTQ group Family Research Council and had previously promoted harmful “ex-gay” conversion therapy.
    • Scott Lloyd became known for denying abortion care to unaccompanied immigrant teens in his custody as the head of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). Lloyd left his position at ORR in November, but he still works with HHS as part of the Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives and is also planning to write an anti-abortion book. Before his move, Lloyd had reportedly inquired whether a teenager in HHS custody could have her abortion “reversed,” an anti-abortion scam that is not based in science. According to The New York Times, Lloyd also kept a weekly spreadsheet of the “unaccompanied minors who have asked” for an abortion, with information about “how far along” their pregnancy was during his time at ORR. Lloyd was also responsible for slowing down the release of detained children under Trump’s family separation policy as he decided “to personally review requests” for “hundreds of kids.” This resulted in detained children spending “extra time in the jail-like facilities, which have been associated with far more allegations of abuse and mistreatment than the shelters and homestays that hold most of the children in ORR custody.”
    • In May 2018, Diana Foley became deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Population Affairs, which oversees the Title X family planning program. As Rewire.News noted, Foley had “served as the president and CEO of Life Network, which, according to its website, promotes ‘life-affirming alternatives to abortion’ and operates two anti-choice clinics.” Beyond this, Foley had also given a 2016 presentation in which she expressed support for the discredited idea that people pathologically experience emotional and physical difficulties as a direct result of having an abortion.
    • In 2018, Steven Valentine became the chief of staff for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health. As Rewire.News reported, Valentine served as SBA List’s interim legislative director where he actively worked to draft and pass anti-abortion legislation. His brother Billy Valentine still works for SBA List as the organization’s vice president of public policy.
    • Before Matthew Bowman became deputy general counsel at HHS in 2018, he worked for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) as part of the organization’s team “litigating some of ADF’s most prominent religious imposition cases.” Rewire.News wrote that during these cases, “Bowman repeatedly promoted the false claim that intrauterine devices and emergency contraceptives cause abortions. His distaste for ensuring access to contraceptives extended to writing a January 2015 post for the conservative site TownHall.com with the headline: ‘How the contraception mandate may spread measles.’”

    Anti-abortion violence and harassment continued against abortion providers and clinics

    Every year, the National Abortion Federation releases a report documenting the previous years’ incidents of anti-abortion harassment and violence against providers, patients, and clinics. This year’s report found that “trespassing more than tripled, death threats/threats of harm nearly doubled, and incidents of obstruction rose from 580 in 2016 to more than 1,700 in 2017. We also continued to see an increase in targeted hate mail/harassing phone calls, and clinic invasions, and had the first attempted bombing in many years.” The harassment of abortion providers, clinics, and supporters continued in 2018:


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    • In February, a man crashed a stolen vehicle into a Planned Parenthood in New Jersey “injuring a pregnant woman and two others.” According to prosecutors, the man had begun “researching the locations of Planned Parenthood clinics more than a year before.” He was later charged with terrorism, but pleaded not guilty.
    • Flip Benham, the former head of anti-abortion extremist group Operation Save America, was arrested in North Carolina and “charged with communicating threats” outside of a clinic in Charlotte, according to The Charlotte Observer.
    • In March, a man in West Virginia was “charged with making threats on Facebook against the Pittsburgh office of Planned Parenthood,” according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Before the alleged threats, he had written on Facebook “that his girlfriend got an abortion against his wishes in 2010. He said he found out who the clinicians were who aborted his child and said he knew five houses where he could steal an AR-15.”
    • A man suspected of setting off a series of bombs in Austin, TX, was reported to have “previously wrote online that he was opposed to abortion and same-sex marriage.”
    • A Planned Parenthood in San Diego was vandalized twice in six weeks.
    • In April, a man who crashed his car into barriers outside of a Planned Parenthood in Seattle was “charged for the assault and the damage but not for targeting the provider of women’s health services,” though he told police in an interview, “Damn right … I blew up Planned Parenthood...Blew Planned Parenthood the fuck up.”
    • A man in New Hampshire pleaded guilty “to leaving a 9 mm bullet at a Beverly medical office where his girlfriend had just terminated a pregnancy.” He told police, “I left the bullet there because they killed my baby."
    • A Planned Parenthood clinic in California closed because a partner organization “received ‘hostile communications’ from anti-Planned Parenthood activists.”
    • Abortion clinics in California and Iowa sustained property damage from targeted actions. In July, a Planned Parenthood in California was set on fire and caused “moderate damage” before being put out. In September, a man was arrested “after allegedly grabbing a log and throwing it at a window of an abortion clinic” in Iowa.
    • A man who was a “self-proclaimed misogynist,” according to BuzzFeed News, killed two women at a yoga studio in Florida in November. In a series of videos he had posted in the years before the attack, “he said that he resented having to subsidize as a taxpayer ‘the casual sex lives of slutty girls’ through the Affordable Care Act’s contraception provisions.”
    • In December, a man was charged with threatening “to murder a United States official” after he left death threats in a voicemail with an unidentified female U.S. Senator’s office. According to Newsweek, the man “became ‘very angry’ after watching online video clips of the senator discussing reproductive rights and criticizing Trump.”