For almost four decades, the Council for National Policy (CNP) has convened secret organizing meetings for leaders and donors on the right in U.S. politics. The members and meeting attendees include the leaders of groups like the Heritage Foundation, the Federalist Society, Alliance Defending Freedom, the Family Research Council, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and Tea Party Patriots, alongside senior Republican politicians, strategists and activists. Vice President Pence and President Donald Trump have both spoken since 2016, as have Trump administration aides and Trump political campaign senior staff.

The meeting agendas, stamped “confidential”, along with the group’s membership lists and other materials, are highly guarded, and members risk their good standing in the network if they reveal them. Members of the press are not welcome at the events, and participants are warned against revealing anything that is said. Despite this, Documented has obtained and is publishing 59 recordings from inside CNP meetings between 2017 and 2020, providing an insiders perspective on how the right has organized during the Trump administration. Documented is also publishing many other internal CNP materials, including membership brochures spanning 2017 to as recently as September 2020, and a variety of other internal documents, available here.

The CNP mission can broadly be described as being to coordinate actions amongst its membership to push the U.S. to the right culturally and politically. An internal 2016 CNP policy, a copy of which was obtained by Documented, makes clear the secretive nature of these meetings. It reads:

“CNP meetings are off the record. To promote free discussion and a lively exchange of ideas, CNP members may not disclose the source of what is said at a meeting, whether by CNP members, invited guests or speakers.”

“…CNP members may not record, stream, “tweet”, or post on Facebook or via other social media forums, any CNP meetings, events, communications or other content.”

Members who breach the policy risk having their CNP membership revoked.

Below are the 59 recordings from the sessions at CNP meetings obtained by Documented and released together here for the first time. Copies of the meeting agendas, stamped “confidential” and also obtained by Documented, are available here.

To learn more about CNP and its members, see our investigations page.

Previous Reporting

In conjunction with the Intercept, Documented has previously reported on some of these meetings and remarks:

Additionally, the Washington Post published remarks made by Federalist Society’s Leonard Leo from the February 2019 meeting.

Nick Surgey

Nick is the Executive Director of Documented and an investigative reporter. He is an occasional contributor to the Intercept. His work has been featured in The Guardian, the New York Times, the Los...

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