Editor’s note: This speakout was published in the Feb. 12 edition of The Brookings Register with a portion inadvertently omitted.
Rev. Carl Kline’s hatred for President Trump first surfaced during the 2016 Presidential campaign: “Let me state in no uncertain terms, Donald Trump is morally abysmal” (Register Oct 27, 2016). Three months later he was back, charging Trump with promoting “racial” warfare and expressing “horror” (Kline’s words) over Trump’s impending inauguration (Register, Jan 21, 2017).
Meanwhile, Alveda C. King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., had stated unapologetically that same week, “I voted for Mr. Trump.” She further included these heartening acknowledgements: “While I voted for Mr. Trump, my confidence remains in God, for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…. Prayers for President-elect Trump, Congressman Lewis, and everyone including leaders” (Daily Mail, Jan 16, 2017).
King, an evangelist and fierce pro-life champion, is a “Pastoral Associate and Director of Civil Rights for the Unborn.” She had met personally with Trump earlier in the campaign and had praised Trump’s plans for the black community as “promising.” Trump is also a fierce pro-life champion.
Kline’s anti-Trump aggressions have overflowed these pages for the past three years, promoting divisiveness and sowing discord, and attacking the President from every angle and at every opportunity, primarily in the form of political half-truths and innuendo.
In a column last fall, Kline described poring over the Mueller Report and how “the first 137 pages” had established that “there was cooperation between the Trump campaign and the Russians” and affirmed that “the Russians had influenced our election” (Register, Aug 3, 2019).
Kline’s testimonial is not supported by the American Bar Association’s review of the summary findings of that report. The Mueller investigation “did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts, despite multiple efforts from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign” (americanbar.org, March 2019).
Kline’s charge regarding Russian influence in the 2016 election also leaves readers with a distorted perspective. According to a Wall Street Journal Report (Aug. 16, 2018), the Russia-connected Internet Research Agency spent “$46,000 on Facebook ads during the 2016 election.” At the same time, “the official Clinton and Trump campaigns alone spent $81 million on Facebook ads.”
The report continued: “For every 25,000 items the typical Facebook user saw in his news feed, only one came from the Russians.” The Russians’ Facebook presence during 2016 was a mere drop in the ocean. There is no evidence whatsoever that a single vote was changed.
Kline also neglected to mention that shortly after Nov. 8, 2016, that same Russian-connected troll farm was actively “fomenting discord about the validity of his [Trump’s] election,” according to Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch, testifying before a Senate Judiciary panel, Oct. 31, 2017.
One Trump protest rally held Nov. 12, 2016, organized by the Facebook page for a Russian-linked group, was shared with 61,000 users: “Join us in the streets! Stop Trump and his bigoted agenda.” Over 16,000 attended the anti-Trump event.
The Russians have also been active in supporting and encouraging other protest movements in the U.S., according to C-SPAN3 coverage of a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, March 30, 2017. Dr. Eugene Rumer, a former U.S. National Intelligence Council Officer for Russia and Eurasia 2010-14, confirmed that “Russia’s support of left-wing ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protests is a ‘perfect example’ of the Kremlin’s willingness to play both sides in U.S. politics.”
There is an ironic twist to this revelation. It just so happens that Kline had previously praised the “Occupy Wall Street” protest movement in his Register column, Dec. 17, 2011, for its noble struggle to “reclaim the American dream.”
Kline has consistently failed to properly disclose relevant political relationships such as these and omitted many fascinating details consequential to his arguments.
“Occupy Wall Street” had been earning a colorful reputation for itself with its protest rallies across the U.S. at the time of Kline’s praise, inciting riots, setting American flags ablaze, and destroying private property (Denver, Charlotte, Portland – November 2011). The group continued on, desecrating churches and burning the American flag (Richmond Times-Dispatch, Feb. 2, 2012), and vandalizing property and desecrating Bibles (San Francisco – January 2012).
“Occupy Wall Street” was also one of the “partner” groups invading Washington on Jan. 21, the day following President Trump’s inauguration ceremony, to participate in massive protest rallies. They were joined by a rich diversity of fellow Trump-hating organizations: The American Humanist Association, American Atheists, Planned Parenthood, National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), People for the American Way, MoveOn.org, National Abortion Federation, Climate First!, and many others. Overall, 50 of the official “partner” groups had well-documented ties to atheist billionaire George Soros (NY Times, Jan. 20, 2017).
Kline’s alignment with these types of groups is curious enough in its own right. But falsely accusing President Trump of Russian ties, while Kline himself has promoted the political goals of a Russian-affiliated group adds a whole new element of intrigue to his weekly columns.
I would like to thank The Brookings Register for this opportunity to respond on these important issues.