The New York Times has done everyone a favor and demonstrated that when Judge Andrew Napolitano said on Fox News that Britain had spied on Donald Trump at the behest of President Barack Obama, he got his information from the Russians.
The go-between was what Media Matters for America calls a “discredited” former CIA analyst:
“This analyst, Larry C. Johnson, floated the conspiracy theory on the Russian state-sponsored news network RT on March 6, the week after Trump’s original accusation that Obama was responsible for an illegal wiretap.”
As we all saw, this is what happened next:
On March 13, Napolitano told hosts of Fox News’ Fox & Friends that Obama circumvented the American intelligence community to ask “the British spying agency” for “transcripts of conversations involving candidate Trump” without “American fingerprints.” Napolitano’s claims were cited by White House press secretary Sean Spicer while defending Trump’s baseless claims that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential election.
Media Matters goes on to explain that “On March 14, Media Matters uncovered the link between Napolitano’s claims and an interview Johnson gave to RT” and this report was confirmed by The New York Times on Friday, March 17.
Spicer ended up apologizing to Britain for his false accusation, all based on information the Russians wanted Fox News to have, knowing it would go straight to the Oval Office and come out of Sean Spicer’s mouth.
The whole fiasco could have been avoided if the Trump administration did not use Fox News rather than U.S. intelligence agencies as its sole source of intelligence.
According to Trump at a joint press conference Friday with Angela Merkel,
“And just to finish your question, we said nothing. All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television. I didn’t make an opinion on it. That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on Fox. So you shouldn’t be talking to me, you should be talking to Fox.”
Now, along with the usual blame-shifting (Fox said it, not me!) there is plenty of egg-on-face to go around, as CNN’s Brian Stelter and CNBC’s John Harwood demonstrate:
1st Napolitano said his sources "believe" Brits spied on Trump for Obama. The next day, he said his sources said it DID happen — no hedging https://t.co/BygitNx9WF
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) March 18, 2017
"very talented legal mind" https://t.co/FgSf0YmEe5
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) March 18, 2017
Obviously, not a very talented legal mind at all, but a very useful tool for Vladimir Putin and Russia.
Donald Trump not only heard what he wanted to hear, but what Vladimir Putin wanted him to hear, with predictable, and embarrassing results, not only for the White House but for the United States of America.