Donald Trump’s call to halt all Muslims from entering the United States was, in typical Trump style, a ratcheting up of xenophobia fervor simmering just beneath the surface. Two of his rivals, Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), had already called for a moratorium on refugees from Middle East countries with an Islamic State presence.
But it also was the fulfillment of a long-held fever dream of an anti-Muslim think tank with ties among the hard-right Republicans. In his statement Monday, Trump cited a poll by the Center for Security Policy to argue that “the hatred is beyond comprehension” and that “until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad.”
A spokesman for Center for Security Policy told TPM via email that none of its members had been in contact with Trump as he crafted his position. But those connected to it have invoked logic similar to Trump’s in the past, including proposals to ban granting Muslims entry visas to the United States.
CSP’s founder Frank Gaffney is a former Reagan administration official who has suggested U.S. officials have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, that the appointment of Justice Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court was a move by the “stealth jihad” movement and that President Obama is secretly a practicing Muslim.
CSP’s outside general counsel is David Yerushalmi, who according to a 2011 New York Times profile, has also represented Pam Gellar, of the anti-Muslim bus ad fame. The Times credited Yerushalmi for spearheading the legal battle against so-called “creeping Sharia” which has, in turn, rippled into presidential politics — not just this cycle, but in 2012, when Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann were railing against Sharia law from the campaign stump.
Yerushalmi pushed back at the Times profile for suggesting he has called for discrimination against Muslims. But ThinkProgress surfaced a 2008 blog post in which the lawyer called for “the Muslim youth be taught from the cradle to reject the religion of their forebears.”
Furthermore, as ThinkProgress highlighted, Yerushalmi’s other organization, Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE) posted draft legislation banning Sharia “adherents” from entering the United States and requiring those who wish to enter from a country that “advocates or implement” Sharia to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that he or she is not Sharia “adherent.”
In 2013, the Anti-Defamation League published its own report accusing Yerushalmi of “demonizing Islam” in his crusade against Sharia law.
Gaffney himself, as well as his think tank, maintain some connection to Washington’s neo-con universe, while being ostracized by other Republicans. He was banned from the conservative confab CPAC for accusing other participants — specifically Suhail Khan and Grover Norquist — of bringing about a Muslim Brotherhood infiltration.
But that hadn’t stop the GOP 2016ers — some of whom who are now decrying Trump’s anti-Muslim immigrant stance — from appearing at a forum in New Hampshire over the summer hosted by Gaffney.