The Council for National Policy (CNP) is a Christian Right influence organization that has set the movement’s agenda for decades, focusing on political strategy, media, and grassroots organizing. CNP describes itself as bringing “together the country’s most influential conservative leaders in business, government, politics, religion, and academia to hear and learn from policy experts on a wide range of issues.” It was co-founded by Paul Weyrich, co-founder of The Heritage Foundation and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has characterized the organization as a “key venue where mainstream conservatives and extremists mix.” SPLC describes CNP members as “activists of the religious right and the so-called ‘culture wars,’ along with a smattering of wealthy financiers”—among them, Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council (FRC), an anti-LGBTQ hate group, and Frank Gaffney, head of the Center for Security Policy (CSP), an anti-Muslim hate group. CNP is characterized as a highly secretive organization, barring press and other uninvited guests from its events in Washington, D.C.
CNP’s membership consists of prominent right-wing figures including Steve Bannon, Mike Pence, Kellyanne Conway, and David Bossie, head of Citizens United. The Washington Post reports that Trump courted CNP during his 2016 campaign by raising his profile as an anti-abortion advocate.
January 6, 2021
- According to The Washington Post, at least six current or former members of CNP “played a role in promoting” the rallies that culminated in the storming of the Capitol and temporary cessation of the congressional certification of Electoral College votes.
- Ali Alexander, a former CNP fellow and prominent right-wing ideologue, promoted the Stop the Steal campaign and the D.C. rallies that preceded the attack on the Capitol. Alexander was one of several public figures on the Right to refer to Jan. 6 as a modern-day “1776,” referencing the American Revolution.
- Charlie Kirk, head of Turning Point USA, a pro-Trump student advocacy group that offered transportation to Washington, D.C. that day, is also a CNP member.
The Big Lie
- According to the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), at the group’s 40th anniversary celebration in May 2021, “CNP awarded its Lantern of Liberty award to Republican lawyer and CNP member Cleta Mitchell, a Big Lie fueler.” Mitchell had “participated in a January call in which Trump asked Georgia election officials to ‘find’ votes to overturn the results and make him the winner of the state’s electoral votes.”
- According to The Washington Post, Mitchell also offered former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows thousands of pages of documents that she claimed offered evidence of election fraud.
- The Washington Post reported that CNP, alongside the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), prepared to dispute the outcome of the 2020 election. Lisa Nelson, chief executive of ALEC, “told a CNP Action session that ALEC, in collaboration with Mitchell and other CNP members, had begun prepping state lawmakers on rules they could invoke during an election dispute. ‘And I think we’ve identified a few,’ she said at the meeting. ‘They can write a letter to the secretary of state questioning the validity of an election and saying, ‘What did happen that night?’ So we are drafting a lot of those things. If you have ideas in that area, let us know and we’ll get those to the state legislators, and they can start to kind of exercise their political muscle in that area.’”
- During meetings leading up to the 2020 election, The Washington Post reported that CNP members “discussed the upcoming election in breathless terms,” arguing that mail-in voting would expose the vote count to fraud.