John Morganelli, who compared immigrants to the 9/11 hijackers and blamed President Obama for child rapes at the border, is running for Congress as a 'Democrat' in Pennsylvania. Now he's trying to hide his history of hateful comments that show him in lockstep with Trump and against American values.
John Morganelli is running for the Democratic nomination in Pennsylvania's 7th Congressional District. But in actuality, he's a right-wing conservative who has repeatedly touted hateful and bigoted views.
Morganelli once compared immigrants to the terrorists behind the 9/11 attacks. He blamed President Barack Obama and other Democrats for migrant children who had been raped, kidnapped, and killed at the border. And he has openly sucked up to Trump while echoing his worst hate speech.
Until recently, he was proud of his affiliation with the hardcore conservative movement that nominated, elected, and backs Trump. But now that it could come back to haunt him, he's trying to bury it.
Morganelli currently serves as district attorney in Northampton County, Pennsylvania. He brags on his campaign website that he's a "prosecutor who fights for us." Yet his own past words put the lie to that claim.
Morganelli was speaking to the Lehigh Valley Tea Party, a local offshoot of the groups that notoriously used racist signs and slogans against President Obama.
His invective-filled speech echoed many of the xenophobic themes Trump would later employ in his campaign for the presidency.
Morganelli spoke out against giving undocumented immigrants drivers' licenses, a practice which has been shown to contribute to public safety. And his supposed justification was downright abhorrent.
"The terrorists that blew up the World Trade Center and killed thousands of Americans all used fraudulent driver's licenses," he said.
Most of the speech continued in this vein. Morganelli complained that "a driver's license is a ticket into the American mainstream" because it could "allow people to open bank accounts, to establish identities, and gain a foothold in our communities."
Research has shown that immigrant families, once established, have been great contributors to communities, paying billions in taxes. But Morganelli was apparently unaware of or uninterested in facts that belied his bigoted views.
He slammed the DREAM Act, which would have created a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Morganelli insisted the effort by congressional Democrats and President Obama drove more immigrants to cross the border.
"I've testified in Washington years ago against the DREAM Act," he proudly told the conservative audience. He claimed the legislation was "offering amnesty."
He specifically complained about President Obama's "statements that encourage these poor kids to come here." Obama's advocacy, in his words, had created "a humanitarian crisis of the first order."
Morganelli said children at the border were "subject to such crimes like rape and kidnapping and extortion and even death, at the hands of the criminals enticed by promises like those made by the President and some senators."
He also decried local police departments that said they won't pursue immigration enforcement as a matter of public safety.
"If local law enforcement agencies like our local police and the County Prison ignore ICE detainers, then in effect we have no longer any immigration enforcement in this country," Morganelli said.
By 2017, Trump was having the same conflict with local police departments, many of which have resisted his demands. The police chiefs of Houston and Dallas were particularly outspoken about it. That approach "will lead to distrust of police and less cooperation from members of the community," they wrote.
Morganelli predicted Trump's racist and nativist beliefs, as well. He argued that undocumented immigrants would "allow the United States to be turned into a third world country." He said they were "a blight in our communities when we start letting criminals from across that border." And he referenced "gang members, drug dealers, criminals who've killed millions of- thousands of Americans."
Not long after, Trump smeared Mexican immigrants, saying many of them were rapists, as he announced his presidential campaign.
Morganelli also smeared Democrats as "the de facto illegal immigration party." They hold the "complete belief perhaps that that these illegals will then vote Democrat," he claimed.
When Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes, he alleged — based on nothing but paranoia and racism — that the margin was based completely on "illegal" votes.
With Morganelli, Trump appears to have a partner who, despite his party affiliation, will echo his most odiously right-wing positions.
But apparently, Morganelli understands how unpopular his and Trump's positions are with much of the country. And now he's in the midst of a cover-up.
CNN reports that he has been purging his Twitter account of right-wing messaging and support for conservative pundits and positions.
Morganelli tweeted that "feds" should be sent in to Chicago because it is "a mess," and attacked Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Trump and Fox News have cited Chicago and its large black population as a boogeyman while discussing gun crime.
Despite his website now parroting progressive positions, Morganelli previously tweeted, "The progressives who believe they are so open to ideas are the least tolerant of anyone who disagrees with them."
At one point, Morganelli wrote, "Illegal aliens are NOT "undocumented immigrants". Do we call people who break into our homes "uninvited guests"? No!! We call the police. 😀"
His tweets also show him sucking up to Trump after the election, perhaps hoping for a position with his administration.
"Thankful for your coming leadership. Waiting to hear from transition. Met you at Bedminister when I played in Member Guest," he wrote.
His desperation grew even more blatant. "Pres-elect sent personal note to my son. I worked with Barletta and Kobach against illegal immigration. Pa. most senior DA," he tweeted. "I am Pa.most senior prosecutor waiting to hear from transition," read another post.
When CNN asked him about the tweets, Morganelli said he changed his mind after Trump's inauguration speech. "His administration got off to a terrible start and has continued beyond that," he stated. But again, his words show marked dissonance with his own past.
After Trump pushed his Muslim travel ban, CNN noted that Morganelli's Facebook post "suggested that he agreed" with the bigoted policy.
He may be running in the Democratic primary. But it's clear from Morganelli's record that his mindset is firmly in the Trump wing of the Republican Party. He marches in lockstep with fellow conservatives in demonizing immigrants and the Democrats who back them.
Morganelli would be an ally to Trump if he is elected by Pennsylvania voters. He would certainly not be the friend to beleaguered communities that he claims to be. And he would truly be a "Democrat" in name only.