Cruz names controversial new adviser who questioned Obama birthplace

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

Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Finance: GOP criticism of tax bill grows, but few no votes | Highlights from day two of markup | House votes to overturn joint-employer rule | Senate panel approves North Korean banking sanctions GOP criticism of tax bill grows, but few ready to vote against it Anti-gay marriage county clerk Kim Davis to seek reelection in Kentucky 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 TrumpDems win from coast to coast Falwell after Gillespie loss: 'DC should annex' Northern Virginia Dems see gains in Virginia's House of Delegates 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 ClintonGOP rushes to cut ties to Moore Papadopoulos was in regular contact with Stephen Miller, helped edit Trump speech: report Bannon jokes Clinton got her ‘ass kicked’ in 2016 election 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.”