CPAC: Charlie Kirk Insists He's Not Already Running for President - Rolling Stone
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Charlie Kirk Insists He’s Not Already Running for President

A candid conversation with the conservative campus culture warrior

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A cardboard cutout of Charlie Kirk

John Hendrickson

NATIONAL HARBOR, MARYLAND — Charlie Kirk holds court a few steps away from a cardboard cutout of himself. Real-Life Charlie is taller than Cardboard Charlie, but Cardboard Charlie has red lipstick on one cheek, presumably from a real-life kiss. Both Charlies wear navy blue suits with sneakers — no tie. Within seconds of meeting a CPAC attendee who says he’s from Korea, Real-Life Charlie says the two need to set up “Turning Point Korea.” He signals to a member of his team. “Korea!!!” he shouts while vigorously pointing to the man from Korea.

The 25-year-old runs Turning Point USA, a “nationwide grassroots student activist movement.” If you don’t know him you probably know his associate, Candace Owens, with whom he’ll co-headline the upcoming “Campus Clash” speaking tour. (Catch them March 4th at Utah Valley University.) Last spring, when Kanye West revealed himself to be MAGA-curious, he cited Owens as a political influence. (West has since shied away from politics.)

With the notable absence of Ben Shapiro at this year’s CPAC, Kirk has assumed the mantle of conservative millennial wonderboy. On Thursday morning, he stepped to the podium inside the Potomac ballroom for a speech that covered everything from the “de-platforming” of conservative voices to the perils of socialism to the media’s treatment of Brett Kavanaugh. Kirk’s appearance was part of a programming bloc that included NRA President Oliver North and Mike Lindell, the CEO of My Pillow.

Downstairs at the Turning Point booth, the “Capitalism Cures” buttons are free, but Kirk’s team hocks $20-dollar T-shirts with slogans like “I DON’T TRUST THE GOVERNMENT” and “Socialism Sucks,” the latter written in the style of Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign logo. Kirk cycles through various grip-and-grins. He appears relieved when an aide hands him a large green tea (two bags). “I’m doing this whole month-without-coffee thing,” he says. “Horrible.” Kirk’s eyes dart around the room. He’s only at CPAC for one day, and appears happy to talk with Rolling Stone as his publicist hovers in earshot. The conversation follows, lightly edited for length and clarity.

Rolling Stone: Did you catch any of Michael Cohen’s testimony? What did you make of it?
Charlie Kirk: I’ve met him a couple times. I don’t know him well. I found the media coverage focusing on him versus what was going on in Vietnam to be totally disproportionate. And the fact that the Democrats planned it on that day — they could’ve moved it by two days. They could’ve moved it to Monday. But they wanted it to be while the president was brokering peace, and I thought that was inappropriate and wrong.

Do you think Cohen was being truthful yesterday?
Oh, he’s a total liar. He’s a pathological liar.

Even now?
Yes, he was even caught in lies yesterday. The thing that struck me the most is that he would give up recordings of other clients under privilege. That’s an unbelievably unethical thing to even entertain, let alone say, in a moment’s notice. I’m not a lawyer, I have no ambition to go to law school, but lawyers that I spend time with would go to prison before they would give up any sort of privileged and confidential information. So the fact that he would do that shows the kind of scum of the earth that he really is.

What about the check he has? The reimbursement check.
I can’t speak to that specifically. From what I understand there was a lot of news around this. You’d have to enlighten me, I actually don’t … you’d have to enlighten me and then I’m gonna have to give you the best answer I can on that.

That’s fine. I’m talking about the reimbursement payments for the pre-election hush money. President Trump allegedly gave him a $35,000 personal check that he signed while in office.
You’d have to ask a much smarter constitutional lawyer like Alan Dershowitz about this. I’m gonna recite what I’ve heard from other lawyers. The issue that is being discussed is whether or not this is a campaign finance violation, right? From what I understand, and from my own interpretation of it, and my opinion, is that it’s not. It was a personal payment. There’s nothing illegal about that. There’s contracts that happen all the time based on agreements of what can be said or what cannot be said, what can be dealt with in a private matter. That’s my interpretation of it.

Do you think the president has done anything impeachable?
No, absolutely not. Absolutely not, no. So, let’s talk about this. If you look at the original intention of impeachment, it’s not for anything around this. And I actually looked back — I was six years old, so I don’t have a record of it. I don’t think they should have impeached Clinton. Impeachment was supposed to be an emergency measure for when a president gets so reckless, when a president gets so out-of-line, that [he or she] can be removed.

The only president that was ever impeached was Andrew Johnson, before Bill Clinton. And there was good reason for that. He basically tore the country apart and was doing some very, very illegal and unethical things. So to say you want to impeach a president because you don’t like what he’s doing, and based on … if you even have to ask the question, that shows you that it shouldn’t be even discussed.

United States President Donald J. Trump, left, shakes hands with with Charlie Kirk, Founder and Executive Director of Turning Point USA, right, after participating in a panel discussion.Generation Next Summit in DC, Washington, USA - 22 Mar 2018

President Donald J. Trump shakes hands with Charlie Kirk, founder and executive director of Turning Point USA, in March 2018.


Do you think the Mueller investigation is partisan?
Of course. It’s unbelievably partisan. Every person he has working for his investigation are Clinton Democrats. [Editor’s note: No.] Andrew Weissmann, look at what that guy has done in his life. If it was really about Russian interference, I want to see the documents in Mueller’s office that show that they investigated Hillary Clinton’s allies around Russia. If they did actually go after the Podesta brothers the way they should have — because they had Russian clients, the same as Manafort did! I want the probe of Bill Clinton’s speaking fees when he went to Russia when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State. That’s a question, right?

Andrew McCabe admitted in his recent interviews that he was part of an intergovernmental coup to try to put a check and balance against the president, and that’s what led to the Mueller investigation, which originated with the firing of Jim Comey. There has been no oversight of Mueller. Did Manafort commit crimes? Yes, absolutely. He’s been convicted of them. Were those crimes of anything having to do with the 2016 presidential election? Not one!

George Stephanopoulos [Editor’s note: Papadopoulos], was he indicted and served short prison time? Yes. What’d he do? He lied to the FBI. What did Flynn do? He lied to the FBI. By the way, the Flynn thing, which no one talks about, the FBI was roaming the halls of the White House and entrapped him. We used to be able to trust core institutions in this country, and it seems that they’re crumbling in front of our very eyes. There’s a two-tier justice system: one for people that know those insider access, and those that don’t.

I’d love a special investigation into the fact that Loretta Lynch met, in a private plane, two days before Hillary Clinton got excused from emails with Bill Clinton, in Arizona, and that got basically no coverage. I want to know the conversation, I want to know if there were tapes, I want the under-oath. Could you imagine if a Republican did that? Could you imagine if Jeff Sessions sat with former President George W. Bush, and George W. Bush’s wife was running for the presidency? Every media person in the world would be asking for what happened on that private plane, and we conveniently forget it. So, that’s a long-winded answer.

Does it make any difference if you think about the fact that Mueller is a Republican, and he was in the FBI, a traditionally Republican institution…?
No. I mean, McCabe was a Republican. Mueller has 12 people working for him that are all Democrats. And just because you’re a Republican doesn’t mean you’re gonna be fair. I dismiss that wholeheartedly. Look, I guess we’re gonna have to wait for the Mueller report. His indictments have been … if he has something that we don’t know, then I  guess that’s what the investigation is for. It should’ve been wrapped up a long time ago. 

I was part of the campaign, I traveled the country for 90 days with Don Jr. — there was no Russian interference. It’s absolute B.S., and I can say that from authority. I was part of Don Jr.’s body team. I retrieved Red Bulls and gave him Diet Cokes and took selfies with him. He’s one of the greatest people I’ve ever had a chance to meet in my life, and I consider him a friend. And so it makes me viscerally angry when I see this sort of narrative continued.

Look at Cohen: mostly lying to Congress and tax medallion malfeasance in the Southern District of New York. Stephanopoulos, [Editor’s note: Papadopoulos] lying to the FBI. Manafort, illegal foreign lobbying, wire fraud and bank fraud, nothing to do with the presidential campaign.Can someone show me a crime that has to do with the 2016 election? Some would say Roger Stone. If that’s the best they have, that a non-official was communicating with a guy who’s domiciled in the Colombian embassy [Editor’s note: Ecuadorian] in England, that’s what their idea of Russian collusion is? Then I’m speechless.

What do you think the average person doesn’t understand about Don Jr.? You talked highly of him just now.
He’s unbelievable. He’s one of the greatest people I’ve ever met in my life.

His character. His honesty. His love of people. I’ll go to events with him, and he feels bad he can’t take pictures with everyone in the room. Like, he actually feels regret. He wants to take a picture with every single kid, and sometimes he does. He always asks how he can help Turning Point or help me. He has a deep love for the country. He’s a wonderful father. I see how much time he spends with his kids. And I’ve seen a lot of not-so-good fathers in my life, and I can tell you he’s a wonderful father. I think that some people in the media go out of their way to mislabel and demonize him in a horrible, horrible way, and I think it’s really unfair.

I hope this is helpful.

I’m giving you probably a lot of good lines.

What would it take for you to no longer support the president?
I get asked this question a lot, which I find funny. I’m not even gonna entertain it because he’s a keeper of promises, and as long as he continues to keep his promises, and do what he said he was gonna do, he’s gonna continue to have my loyalty and my support. He gets relentlessly attacked by the media. I think that’s ridiculous, unfair scrutiny. And yet, it never did cross his mind to not do what he said he was gonna do on the campaign trail, and I think that is a really amazing thing.

Do you want to be president?
No. Do I?

I’m 25 years old.

I’m not saying right now.
Look, I’m running a youth organization. .. I refuse… no, the answer is, come on, that’s a silly question. I mean, I’m 25. I’m running a conservative campus student organization. I have no ambitions to run for office except to continue to be a cultural warrior for the things I believe in.

In This Article: CPAC, Millennials, Republicans


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