Cruz names controversial new adviser who questioned Obama birthplace

Cruz names controversial new adviser who questioned Obama birthplace
© Getty Images

Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea GOP state lawmakers meet to plan possible constitutional convention MORE named an archconservative who has questioned President Obama’s birthplace and has been labeled “one of America’s most notorious Islamophobes” to his national security team on Thursday.

Frank Gaffney, the president of the right-leaning Center for Security Policy and a former Pentagon official, was named as one of 24 new foreign policy advisers for Cruz’s presidential campaign.

The Cruz campaign’s rollout of its national security advisers appears designed to counter Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden slams Trump over golf gif hitting Clinton Trump Jr. declines further Secret Service protection: report Report: Mueller warned Manafort to expect an indictment MORE, the clear front-runner in the GOP presidential race, who has repeatedly declined to say who is advising him on the issue.

“I am honored and humbled to have a range of respected voices willing to offer their best advice,” Cruz said in a statement announcing the list of foreign policy hands. “These are trusted friends who will form a core of our broader national security team.”

Gaffney has come under criticism from the Southern Poverty Law Center, which claims he's “gripped by paranoid fantasies about Muslims destroying the West from within.” 

In 2008, Gaffney wrote an op-ed in The Washington Times claiming, falsely, that “there is evidence Mr. Obama was born in Kenya rather than, as he claims, Hawaii.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center claims that Gaffney was “once a respectable Washington insider” but “is now one of America’s most notorious Islamophobes.”

As recently as last year, he was calling for government watchdogs to explore the “extensive” connection between longtime Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden slams Trump over golf gif hitting Clinton Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax hit by earlier hack | What to know about Kaspersky controversy | Officials review EU-US privacy pact Overnight Tech: Equifax hit by earlier undisclosed hack | Facebook takes heat over Russian ads | Alt-right Twitter rival may lose domain MORE aide Huma Abedin and the Muslim Brotherhood, “as well as [Abedin’s] other problematic, and possibly criminal, activities.”

Gaffney’s inclusion on the list of Cruz advisers is notable because he is surrounded, largely, with more conventional thinkers from the Republican Party establishment.

Also on the list is Elliot Abrams, a former diplomat and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. So is former National Security Agency general counsel Stewart Baker, ex-Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.) and Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council think tank.

Two other people from Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy are listed as Cruz advisers: former CIA analyst Fred Fleitz and research and analysis vice president Clare Lopez.  

In an interview with Bloomberg columnist Eli Lake, Cruz’s campaign claimed that the presence of both Gaffney and the more mainstream voices is intentional.

“Both Frank and Elliott are people I went out of my way to set up meetings with the Senator,” Victoria Coates, Cruz’s primary national security adviser, told the outlet. “He has met with both of them individually for years.”