Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.
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Christian nationalist Russ Vought recently appeared on Turning Point USA co-founder Charlie Kirk’s radio show to discuss plans to purge at least 10% of federal career staffers under a new Trump administration. Vought described that portion of the federal workforce as “the roots of the problem” that prevented former President Donald Trump from fully implementing his agenda. During the interview, Kirk suggested that the next Republican administration subject civil servants to “ideological purity tests.”
Vought ran the powerful Office of Management and Budget under Trump and now heads up a right-wing think tank called the Center for Renewing America, whose mission is to “renew a consensus of America as a nation under God.” While at OMB, Vought helped develop a policy called “Schedule F” as a tool that would allow a new conservative administration to circumvent job protections typically enjoyed by federal workers who aren’t politically appointed.
Speaking on the September 23 edition of The Charlie Kirk Show, Vought claimed to have reclassified 90% of the workers in his own office under that job category.
“Schedule F is an authority that we discovered and developed at the end of the Trump administration to give the president the ability to reclassify career civil servants, who normally have permanency within the bureaucracy, to turn them into essentially at-will employees,” Vought told Kirk.
When asked by Kirk how many career employees he’d like to potentially sack using this authority, Vought set the floor at 10% of current workers, but suggested that he considers as much as 80% of the federal workforce to be ideological opponents.
“I would say that within my agency, we had, you know, 80% of it was left-leaning,” Vought said. “Their paradigms were all rooted in this permanent class, ruling class that defines the milieu of Washington, D.C.”
“And you can reason and work with that crowd, but there is about a 10% of activists that are animated by the wokeism, the anti-racist movement, to be able to come into these agencies and they're just activists,” Vought added.
Vought then told Kirk that someone in the human resources department at OMB described themselves and their colleagues as “committed anti-racists.”
Kirk responded by calling that person the leader of “a sleeper cell of a woke communist ideology who's just right there within our federal government.”
“You're going to have to figure out how to solve that, I don’t know,” Kirk continued. “But ideological purity tests are an interesting approach, but let's break up the federal government first and then we'll go from there.”
In July, Axios reported on discussions Trump allies were having about staffing their next administration, with the Schedule F being central to the framework. Vought reportedly has been a leader in these efforts: As Media Matters reported a week prior to Axios’ story, Vought stated publicly that he wants to build an “army” of hard-right activists with “Biblical worldview” to run the federal agencies that he can’t outright destroy. He’s been very clear that the goal is to get “ideologically committed individuals up and down the agencies,” and he’s been similarly clear that Schedule F is the way to do it.
Right-wing propagandist Christopher Rufo – known for launching bad-faith attacks on critical race theory and targeting children’s hospitals that provide care to trans youth – has pushed for a similar course of action.
“The idea is to centralize ideological control over the federal agencies in the White House and create a team at the Office of Management and Budget to enforce it,” Rufo said in an interview with conservative website IM-1776 in July.
In furtherance of those shared goals, Vought has attempted to turn the Center for Renewing America into a shadow government-in-waiting for Trump or another conservative president. In June, Vought brought on Jeffrey Clark, a former Department of Justice environmental lawyer and Trump’s top coup architect, as senior fellow at CRA. Kash Patel, another key figure in Trump’s attempt to subvert the 2020 election, is a CRA senior fellow as well.
In the recent interview with Kirk, Vought expressed a common regret among former Trump officials that the administration wasted precious time in its first years adjusting to the steep learning curve of running the government.
“My hope is that we don’t have to do that again because we're laying the groundwork now,” Vought said, later adding, “We want to make sure that can never happen again and make sure that from day one, we can ensure that the agenda is being done.”
Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.
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New text messages obtained by CNN on Monday have freshly exposed the depths of former President Donald Trump’s push to overturn the 2020 election and, more specifically, the involvement of his chief of staff Mark Meadows to meet that end.
The messages unearthed Monday were sent to Meadows by Phil Waldron, a retired U.S. Army colonel who became one of Trump’s most ardent peddlers of voter-fraud conspiracy theory ahead of the January 6 insurrection.
Waldron was responsible for circulating a PowerPoint presentation to numerous lawmakers in Washington recommending that Trump declare a national emergency over the so-called “fraud” in order to stay in power. He also reportedly helped write a draft executive order to seize voting machines. That executive order was never formally issued.
According to CNN, Waldron texted Meadows just two days before Christmas in 2020. He was frustrated that a judge in Arizona had tossed a lawsuit calling on state officials to seize voting machines there.
To Waldron’s mind, the ruling was dangerous because it gave Trump’s opponents too much time to oppose them.
The state of Arizona, Waldron wrote to Meadows on December 23, was the “lead domino we were counting on to start the cascade.”
When Donald Trump lost the election to now-President Joe Biden both popularly and by way of the Electoral College, the former president and several of his closest allies, advisers, and attorneys had their eyes focused on seven battleground states including Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
Trump insisted that his losses there were due to widespread voter fraud. As the January 6 committee’s investigation and a subsequent mountain of court filings from Trump’s advisers like overturn architect John Eastman have shown, there was no voter fraud on a wide scale—but it didn’t stop the Trump White House from trying to suggest otherwise.
Passing off bogus and unsanctioned pro-Trump electors to Congress was critical to getting the overturn scheme off the ground.
When Waldron lamented the court loss in Arizona to Meadows on Dec. 23, Trump’s then-chief of staff commiserated.
“Pathetic,” Meadows wrote.
Waldron has said publicly that he “contributed” to the 40-page proposal to seize voting machines entitled “Election Fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for 6 JAN.” And he’s admitted to sharing the proposal with lawmakers in Congress before the Capitol attack.
He’s also not made much of a secret of his proximity to Trump insiders like Meadows. As noted by the government watchdog American Oversight (who helped CNN obtain the new records released Monday), Waldron told reporters in 2021 that he spoke to Meadows at least eight to 10 times after the election. He also said he went to the White House for visits, as well.
Before the text to Meadows on December 23, Waldron had spent weeks asking Republican state legislators if he could show them “evidence” of voter fraud. He also offered legislators the chance to let him analyze their results.
One of Waldron’s most well-known reviews of “fraud” was one he launched in Antrim County, Michigan. That assessment ended up being widely panned and completely debunked.
But on December 28, 2020, the newly obtained text messages show Waldron was undeterred by the loss in Arizona. There was data coming in from multiple counties, he wrote to Meadows.
Waldron dubbed the “irregularities” the “Southern steal” by Democrats.
Meadows responded to the December 28 text: “OK.”
The former chief of staff’s replies may be succinct, but they also underline something important: Meadows responded to Waldron, meaning he had awareness of the push to overturn the election results after the safe harbor deadline for Congress.
Waldron’s testimony has recently been demanded by a grand jury in Georgia examining Trump’s push to reverse election results there. Meadows has also been asked to testify in that state’s investigation.
Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.
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