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Factsheet: Louie Gohmert

Published on 16 Jul 2020

IMPACT: Louie Gohmert is a Republican representative from Texas with a long history of anti-Muslim rhetoric, including claims that “terror babies” were being raised to destroy the American “way of life.” Gohmert has connections with prominent anti-Muslim organizations, including ACT for America, and associations with individuals in the transatlantic anti-Muslim movement.

Louie Gohmert is a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Texas’ first congressional district since 2005. He is a member of the Tea Party caucus, a socially and fiscally conservative movement within the Republican party. According to a report by the Center for American Progress, Gohmert is “famous for delivering fiery speeches on the House floor, often making hateful and bigoted remarks about Arabs and Muslims.”

During a speech on the House floor in June 2010, Gohmert called for stricter border control, stating that “there are people coming into this country who want to destroy our way of life.” He claimed that “terrorist cells” overseas had “figured out how to game our system,” outlining a plot involving pregnant women being sent to the U.S. to give birth, only to return back to their homes where the babies “could be raised and coddled as future terrorists.” Gohmert then claimed that in “twenty, thirty years down the road…[the children would] be sent in to help destroy our way of life.” Gohmert’s claim was debunked by former high ranking FBI official Tom Fuentes who stated, “There was never a credible report — or any report, for that matter — …to indicate that there was such a plan for these terror babies to be born,” describing Gohmert’s assertion as “ludicrous.”

In August 2010, Gohmert defended his claims of “terror babies” on Anderson Cooper 360. At one point in response to Cooper’s questions Gohmert shouted, “You’re attacking the messenger,” while repeatedly failing to provide any evidence for his [Gohmert’s] claims.  

In July 2012, Gohmert and three fellow Republican members of Congress signed on to letters led by then-congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, calling on various departments in the federal government to investigate  the possibility of the Muslim Brotherhood infiltrating the U.S. government. A July 2012 article in U.S. News noted that the “letters quickly attracted attention with one specifically mentioning the State Department’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Huma Abedin, a long-time Hillary Clinton aide, by name.” The letter claimed Abedin’s family members were connected to the Brotherhood.

The allegation of a Muslim Brotherhood plot to infiltrate the U.S. government comes from the Center for Security Policy, which is led by Frank Gaffney, a well-known anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist. CSP has repeatedly claimed there are ties between Abedin’s family and the Brotherhood. There was a “near universal condemnation” of the allegations made against Abedin by many members of Congress spanning across party lines, such as the then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), and the then-Senator John McCain (R-AZ). 

Following the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013, Gohmert went on C-SPAN to discuss U.S. homeland security policy and proposed immigration legislation. During his interview, Gohmert discussed the need to secure the border, referencing Israel’s illegal border wall as something America should copy. He claimed that “Al Qaeda has camps on the Mexican border. We have people that act Hispanic when they are radical Islamists. We know these things are happening.”  No government official corroborated Gohmert’s claims.

In a 2014 congressional speech, Gohmert again spoke out against immigration, describing migrants entering the United States to seek asylum as an “invasion,” and pointing out that Congress has the “power to call for the military during an invasion.” He equated migrants’ desire for safety and security to the Normandy landings in World War II (D-Day invasion), claiming, “In just two months, we’ve had nearly 300,000 people invade the United States through Texas.”

In 2016 following the Orlando Pulse club shooting, the House of Representatives introduced the Countering Terrorist Radicalization Act. Gohmert stated that he voted against the legislation aimed at combatting terrorist recruitment because “it never mentions the term ‘radical Islam,’ and after the Orlando shooting, we have an obligation when the administration won’t call it what it is, to start calling it what it is.” The representative from Texas claimed, “Every Republican I heard speak on this issue, including those from Homeland Security, have acknowledged the president and our intelligence need to start talking about jihad, Muslim, Islam, radical Muslim, radical Islam, Muslim Brotherhood.…”

In 2017, Gohmert said the FBI under director Robert Mueller had “blinded” the country from being able to see “our enemies” by the 2012 purging of FBI training materials.  According to a 2011 Wired article, the training materials had identified Islam’s Prophet Muhammad as a “cult leader” and claimed the meaning behind the obligatory almsgiving in Islam was “a mechanism for combat, combat support, and combat service support operations.” On September 20, 2011, the FBI released a statement that it was “conducting a comprehensive review of all training and reference materials that relate in any way to religion or culture.” A February 2012 Washington Post article reported that the FBI had reviewed 160,000 pages of documents and training materials, removing more than 700 documents and 300 presentations. In the same article, Christopher Allen, an FBI spokesman, noted the agency was “developing guidelines so it won’t happen again in the future.” In response to the FBI’s review, Gohmert claimed that the FBI was “looking at these presentations from a political standpoint instead of from an educational standpoint.”

In July 2012, Gohmert introduced into the congressional record an open letter from ACT for America, described by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as the largest anti-Muslim organization in the U.S., opposing the FBI’s removal of documents from its counter-terrorism training materials.

Gohmert has worked closely with David Horowitz, an American writer with a history of promoting conspiracy theories and falsified information about Muslims. Gohmert attended numerous conferences hosted by Horowitz, including as the keynote speaker for Horowtiz’s 2014 retreat. In his speech, Gohmert criticized Congress’ immigration policies aimed at providing a path toward legal status for undocumented individuals. Gohmert stated that when people refer to Dreamers (individuals protected by the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors—DREAMAct), they are “not talking about your children, my children […] they’re talking about people whose parents bring them or send them illegally into the country and they just forget about the children that are here that had dreams of their own.”

In 2014, Gohmert spoke at “The Uninvited: National Security Action Summit” co-hosted by Breitbart News, a right-wing media outlet described by its former chairman Steve Bannon as a “platform for the alt-right,” and EMPact America. The event, moderated by Frank Gaffney, took place at the same time as the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and featured many speakers not invited to CPAC. Among the panel topics advertised were the Muslim Brotherhood, “Amnesty and Open Borders: The End of America – and the GOP,” and “Benghazigate: The Ugly Truth and the Cover-up.” Gohmert was scheduled for “remarks” along with other prominent attendees such as Senator Ted Cruz.

In 2017, Gohmert attended and spoke at the ACT for America Security Conference. In both 2017 and 2018, Gohmert attended the “Hold Their Feet to Fire” conference hosted and funded by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which has been labeled a “hate group” by the SPLC. Other attendants included Representative Steve King, Frank Gaffney, and Robert Spencer. A 2017 report by FAIR also noted that the group held “key meetings” with numerous members of Congress, including Gohmert.

Gohmert has interacted with anti-Muslim and anti-Islam voices and organizations beyond the United States. In December 2014, Gohmert traveled to Vienna with a U.S. Congressional delegation to meet with Austrian-based Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, a central figure in the transatlantic network of anti-Muslim and anti-Islam organizations and activists. In 2011, Sabaditsch-Wolff was convicted for “disparaging religious doctrines” during a 2009 incident in which she referred to the Prophet Muhammad as a pedophile. In 2018, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) upheld the conviction. Her website, Save Free Speech, states that “Rep. Gohmert and the other congressmen said they were appalled by the decision” of the court.

Gohmert has interacted with far-right anti-Muslim Dutch Member of Parliament Geert Wilders on numerous occasions, including at Horowitz’s 2014 retreat. At the retreat, Gohmert greeted Wilders, “It’s so good to see you again; you’re welcome back to Capitol Hill anytime. We got three members here…; we’d love to sponsor you again anytime you come.” He also noted that “Friday Muslim prayers were conducted in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C” and then referred to the praying Muslims as “these terrorists.” In 2015, Gohmert’s office along with Representative Steve King invited Wilders to speak on Capitol Hill.

Updated July 14, 2020