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USAID appointee alleges 'rampant anti-Christian sentiment' at agency

A controversial political appointee at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) on Monday unleashed a series of tweets that accused the agency of having a "rampant anti-Christian" bias, railed against gay marriage and accused lawmakers of a "corrupt campaign" to remove her. 

Merrit Corrigan, who served as deputy White House liaison at USAID, had faced scrutiny for her anti-LGBTQ views and has been criticized for misogynistic and xenophobic rhetoric. 

She was no longer in her position as of 3 p.m. Monday, acting USAID spokesperson Pooja Jhunjhunwala said.

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"Effective 3:00 P.M., on August 3, 2020, Ms. Merritt Corrigan is no longer an employee at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID),” Jhunjhunwala said. “USAID takes any claim of discrimination seriously, and we will investigate any complaints of anti-Christian bias Ms. Corrigan has raised during her tenure at the Agency."

Corrigan laid out her views explicitly on social media Monday in an explosive Twitter thread railing against same-sex marriage, transgender individuals and her view that U.S. taxpayer dollars are provided to countries that “celebrate sexual deviancy.”

She accused USAID of holding a “rampant anti-Christian sentiment” and said she was horrified by a document circulated at the agency that purportedly said people couldn't tell the gender of an individual just by looking at them. 

“I watched with horror this week as USAID distributed taxpayer funded documents claiming 'we cannot tell someone’s sex or gender by looking at them' and that not calling oneself 'cis-gendered' is a microagression,” Corrigan wrote on Twitter. “I’m not cis-anything. I’m a woman.”

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She said she would hold a press conference Thursday where she said she will “expose” a “corrupt campaign” by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelProgressives target Manchin, Sinema with new PAC State Department sets up new bureau for cybersecurity and emerging technologies How Congress dismissed women's empowerment MORE (D-N.Y.) and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezSenate confirms Thomas-Greenfield as UN ambassador The Memo: Biden bets big on immigration Biden pushes expanded pathways to citizenship as immigration bill lands in Congress MORE (D-N.J.).

Corrigan went on to attack Sens. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOvernight Defense: Biden sends message with Syria airstrike | US intel points to Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi killing | Pentagon launches civilian-led sexual assault commission Biden administration to give Congress full classified briefing on Syria strikes by next week Senators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence MORE (D-Va.) and Cory BookerCory BookerObama says reparations 'justified' Congressional Black Caucus unveils '100 Day Plan' Menendez reintroduces corporate diversity bill MORE (D-N.J.) saying they pushed for her ousting “purely because of my Christian beliefs.”

Corrigan had come under intense scrutiny from Democratic lawmakers who took issue with her earlier online comments where she had criticized the U.S. as a “homo-empire” under a “tyrannical LGBT agenda.”

The comments were first reported by Politico in November.

In July, Engel led 20 Democratic lawmakers calling for USAID’s acting administrator John Barsa to dismiss Corrigan over her comments, saying they were “appalling” and “has no place in a federal agency.”

Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee doubled down on that statement in a hearing the following day, pressing Acting USAID administrator John Barsa over whether the agency deemed Corrigan a qualified employee based on her beliefs.

They also questioned the administrator on the employment of Mark Lloyd, a USAID advisor on religious freedom who had called Islam a “barbaric cult”, reported by The Associated Press in 2016.

“Are those people’s views representative of yours, or of the current philosophy governing AID?” Rep. Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyOvernight Defense: Biden sends message with Syria airstrike | US intel points to Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi killing | Pentagon launches civilian-led sexual assault commission The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Divided House on full display Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House MORE (D-Va.) asked Barsa at the hearing.

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Barsa responded by saying that "ethical standards have always existed."

“While someone is working for me at USAID regardless of hiring category, civil servant, foreign service officer or political appointee — everyone is held to the same high, moral, legal, ethical standards that have always existed,” Barsa said.

David Stacy, the Government Affairs Director of the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy organization for LGBTQ rights, said in a statement that Corrigan’s beliefs are “not unique in the Trump administration.”

“She is the exact type of anti-LGBTQ zealot that Trump recruits and places in positions of power. Corrigan’s biased and harmful beliefs are not shared by the vast majority of Americans,” the statement read. 

Updated at 5:40 p.m.