The New York Times Magazine is out with a long attack piece, smearing Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife Ginni. We can say with certainty based on personal experience that at least one aspect of their coverage is fake news.
On January 24, 2019, we, along with a number of conservative leaders from the Groundswell working coalition, met with President Trump in the West Wing to humbly offer our support to help him achieve his agenda.
The primary point we sought to emphasize to the president that day was our belief he was not being served by many NeverTrumpers getting plum appointments in the first half of the Trump Administration. Establishment Republicans who opposed his agenda were filling administration vacancies. Genuine Trump supporters were being shut out. Trump personnel were undermining Trump policy to the detriment of the president and those who voted for him.
In response to the president’s request for specific concerns, attendees identified former John Boehner staffer and head of the Office of Presidential Personnel, Johnny DeStefano, as an official uniquely responsible for preventing political appointees who shared the president’s agenda from entering his administration.
This evidently struck a chord and energized the room, as DeStefano was in attendance.
The group proceeded to discuss a number of other topics concerning policy and politics with the president, such as suggested themes for the upcoming State of the Union address.
Soon after our meeting with President Trump, several hostile White House staffers colluded with the left-wing media to craft a series of hit pieces about our meeting. While we have continued to abide by the confidentiality request attached to the meeting, those insiders who were stung by our message to the president leaked details that were slanderous, cartoonish, and, in some instances, complete lies. The swamp-friendly staffers provided the New York Times with anonymous false accounts about the meeting with the president.
The goal was to smear Trump’s strongest supporters—those of us not on the payroll, but championing him for “free.” As the hit pieces demonstrated we were often supporting the president at great cost to ourselves and in a hostile political environment. But they also wanted to smear the meeting’s organizer, Ginni Thomas.
Ginni was uniquely suited to organize the meeting as a leader in the conservative movement who has spent her career building coalitions—a conservative movement we felt was shunted aside deliberately by some of the president’s advisers. Taking concerns about personnel to President Trump was, and is, the right thing to do—personnel is of paramount importance, and every administration hosts vigorous debates surrounding staffing concerns.
Evidently, the president heard our group’s concerns, because just a few months later, DeStefano would leave the White House. His ultimate replacement was committed to selecting people who wanted to implement the president’s agenda and root out those who were not.
In the most recent attack piece on the Thomases, the New York Times brings the lies and distortions about this meeting with the president down to a new low. Among them isthe absurd assertion people were praying throughout the meeting so loudly that it was hard to hear. This is an outright lie that Times reporters Danny Hakim and Jo Becker fell for hook, line, and sinker. No such thing happened.
Members of the group did not “denounce transgender people” nor did the female with 20 years of active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps who spoke to the issue “denounce . . . women serving in the military.” This, too, is an outright lie. The admonition to carefully review a forthcoming report about military transgender policy in no way amounted to anything like these suggestions.
We are compelled to set the record straight about what actually happened in the West Wing, given this renewed assault on Ginni Thomas. It is utterly outrageous that Ginni continues to take slings and arrows for having done her patriotic duty in trying to connect the president with his base. If the argument is that the group got the meeting because of Ginni’s last name, well, only leftists and political adversaries would define a conservative woman who has spent decades in political activism by her husband’s job.
One White House staffer who attended the same meeting and was not quoted in the New York Times said to the participants:
Once again, the characterization in the leftist media of the meeting with President Trump in the Roosevelt Room is false. The meeting was a serious, respectful exchange of ideas and tactics. Everyone who had something to say was heard. Most importantly, the invited guests alerted the President that some people on his team were actually slowing the advancement of his agenda.
This Roosevelt Room episode should serve as another example to the American people of the nefarious ways in which the swamp operates. Those of us in the room watched fake news created in real time so the swamp could protect itself, and hobble those who would drain it.
Perhaps most of all, it should serve as an example to the next Republican president of the kind of resistance he should expect to face, and must be prepared to overcome, even from wolves posing in GOP sheepskin.
Christian Adams, President, Public Interest Legal Foundation
Richard Manning, President, Americans For Limited Government
Sandy Rios, Director of Government Affairs, American Family Association
The Honorable George Rasley