This powerful group groomed Mike Pence for the White House. Impeachment could complicate their plans - 2019-10-25
Over the past few decades the traditional GOP has been overtaken by partisans of the Radical Right, now entrenched in the party's infrastructure. This shadow network of hardline organizations, activists and donors stands ready to outlast the Trump presidency. The story of the CNP, a hub in this network, is a case study in how the durability and strategic capacity of right-wing institutions have shaped the American political landscape.
The Council for National Policy had its origins in the Southwest, where the social agenda of Christian fundamentalists and the economic interests of the oil industry converged. They founded the CNP in 1981 to capitalize on the election of Ronald Reagan; Reagan's former attorney general, Edwin Meese III, would serve as the CNP's president from 1993-1997.
The organization meets several times a year, maintaining secrecy for its membership and its proceedings. But a 2014 membership roster was leaked and published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, illustrating the span of the political network: major donors such as the DeVos family; evangelical powerhouses such as Southern Baptist leader Richard Land; and heads of influential media interests, including the Salem Media conglomerate. Kellyanne Conway has belonged to the CNP's executive committee, and Jay Sekulow, lead attorney on Trump's personal legal team, has served on the board of governors. The organization also, critically, includes the heads of membership organizations such as the National Rifle Association and the Susan B. Anthony List (a group that funds anti-choice candidates), whose ground troops can be deployed in coordinated political canvassing. In the words of former CNP president Richard DeVos (father-in-law to Education Secretary Betsy), the CNP convenes the "donors and the doers."