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‘The Hill’ Posts Damning Report On Solomon’s Role In Ukraine Scandal

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

The Hill on Wednesday published its internal review of former columnist John Solomon’s role in the Trump-Ukraine scandal, in which he pushed a series of smear narratives against key Democratic figures — smears that have continued in Solomon’s new role as a Fox News contributor, and which that network’s own internal research division knows to be false.

Not that the review itself can just easily wash away The Hill’s sins. The article states: “This review was conducted independently by The Hill’s news staff under the direction of Editor-in-Chief Bob Cusack.” While The Hill perhaps means it was done “independently” of the opinion section, where Solomon officially worked, the supervision of the paper’s editor-in-chief and the involvement of its own news staff would also mean it’s not really “independent” — which would have required some kind of outside oversight.

The report is also flawed in that it only focuses on Solomon’s work in the Ukraine story — not branching out into other stories in which he clearly committed the same ethical transgressions. For example, the connection between Solomon’s reporting and his attorneys Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing — a point of criticism in The Hill’s review — was also apparent in his columns pushing the Uranium One narrative. (Solomon had cited an anonymous source for the anti-Clinton conspiracy theory, who turned out to be another one of Toensing’s clients, lobbyist William Douglas Campbell.)

National security reporter Marcy Wheeler noted another missing line of inquiry:

Despite these shortcomings, the report is still quite damning of both Solomon’s behavior and The Hill’s longtime tolerance of it.

The review explains how Solomon misused his official title as an opinion columnist, while seemingly offering up investigative news reports — and The Hill didn’t do anything about it, thus creating an opportunity for Fox News to further spread Solomon’s stories around:

While Solomon’s columns on Ukraine were labeled as opinion, they largely read like news stories. Adding to the potential confusion between opinion and news, Solomon was identified as “an award-winning journalist” in his column tagline. When appearing on television to discuss his Ukraine columns, Solomon was not typically labeled an opinion writer by the broadcast programs. The Hill did not contact television producers to label Solomon as an opinion columnist. It should have.

Lending further support to an impression that the columns were more like news stories, rather than opinion columns, Solomon’s Ukraine columns were longer than typical opinion pieces, in many cases contained what could be viewed or was identified by him as original reporting, and stuck to one general topic. This may have suggested to many readers it was an investigative series, which normally resides in the news department, rather than opinion. Solomon’s subsequent appearances on Fox News where he was often identified as an investigative journalist further potentially blurred the distinction between news and opinion in the minds of some readers.

A cursory search on Nexis shows that Hannity and other Fox News hosts have referred to Solomon as an “investigative journalist” or “investigate reporter” over 100 times since January 2018. (Indeed, this point was a bone of contention in the internal Fox News document, as well.)

As for Solomon’s actual columns, The Hill’s review goes into Solomon’s crucial omissions of his sources’ own agendas: “In certain columns, Solomon failed to identify important details about key Ukrainian sources, including the fact that they had been indicted or were under investigation. In other cases, the sources were his own attorneys.”

Those attorneys are diGenova and Toensing, who also have previous legal ties to President Donald Trump and have made over 100 appearances on Fox News, though they are currently missing from the network. (Solomon has also revealed recently that diGenova and Toensing introduced him to indicted Giuliani associate Lev Parnas.)

The review also further exposes Solomon’s role in working with Trump personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who ran a shadow foreign policy campaign in Ukraine to smear Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. At one point, the report uses some rather dry and legalistic language to call out Solomon’s dishonesty about his ties to Giuliani, Parnas, diGenova, and Toensing:

Solomon has said the notion of Giuliani being a principal source for his Ukraine columns is a “bogus narrative.” In November 2019, Solomon said Giuliani was “never an on-the-record, off-the-record or on-background source for any of those stories.”

Since the publication of Solomon’s columns, Parnas delivered Ukraine-related communications to Congress that show repeated contact among Parnas, Giuliani, Solomon, and Victoria Toensing of the Washington law firm of diGenova & Toensing, among others.

Solomon need not worry too much about fallout from The Hill’s review, thanks to his new gig at Fox News. After all, the reporting earlier this month on the Fox News internal research document showed that his new employers were fully aware that he had “played an indispensable role in the collection and domestic publication of elements of this disinformation campaign.” But the network continued to run with his stories as part of its overall push to aid Trump throughout the impeachment process, and Solomon is still appearing there to this very day.

And hey, at least The Hill went to the trouble of investigating some of the disinformation they’d been peddling. Meanwhile, it’s been years and we’re still waiting on that promised review of Fox’s own lies about the Seth Rich case.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

As Ukraine Purge Continues, Trump Fires Top Pentagon Official

Top Pentagon policy official John Rood, who spoke out against Trump’s Ukraine effort, was asked to step down from his position, continuing the purge of administration officials who were against Donald Trump’s Ukraine scheme, CNN reported Wednesday morning.

A copy of Rood’s resignation letter, obtained by CBS, made clear the request came from Trump.

“It is my understanding from Secretary Esper that you requested my resignation,” Rood wrote to Trump.

Rood, who served as the defense undersecretary for policy, spoke out against Trump’s plan to withhold military aid to Ukraine in order to force the country to announce an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden.

Rood wrote in an email to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, hours after Trump’s infamous July 25 call with the Ukrainian president, “Placing a hold on security assistance at this time would jeopardize this unique window of opportunity and undermine our defense priorities with a key partner in the strategic competition with Russia,” according to CNN.

Rood is the latest member of the administration who Trump has ousted over the Ukraine scandal. Trump was impeached over the scheme, but Senate Republicans acquitted him — saying that, while Trump’s behavior was wrong, they felt Trump had learned his lesson and thus did not warrant removal from office.

However, immediately after his acquittal, Trump began purging officials who testified in the impeachment probe, including Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, and Gordon Sondland, the now-former United States ambassador to the European Union and a key figure in the Ukraine plot.

Rood, for his part, is expected to depart his position soon.

At the Pentagon, Rood worked on implementing the Trump administration’s efforts to counter aggression from Russia and China.

In his resignation letter, Rood wrote, “I leave with the utmost admiration for the outstanding team with which I worked at the Defense Department.”

Updated with additional information for John Rood’s resignation letter.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Graham Promises Senate Probe Of Bidens

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

From the February 2 edition of Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo:

MARIA BARTIROMO (ANCHOR): Schumer this morning signaling that the Democrats will not accept an acquittal as legitimate. Nancy Pelosi hinting that she is going to call Bolton in the House. John Bolton. What’s the dems next move? And how are you going to get anything done, Senator, if you actually got the other side constantly pushing to find out dirt on Donald Trump?

LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Well, the president has been successful in spite of all of this. I hope we can turn the page as a nation and focus on issues important. But as Nancy Pelosi calls Bolton, here is what I would say. They’re impeaching the president for suspension of aid that was eventually received, trying to leverage an investigation that never happened. This is ridiculous. Mueller broke their heart. They won’t let it go. They hate this man. Pelosi is no longer Speaker of the House. Just in name only. I don’t know if they will ever let it go. Here is what I’m going to do. If they talk to Bolton, I will bring in State Department officials, and ask them why didn’t you do something about the obvious conflict of interest Joe Biden had? Joe Biden’s effort to combat corruption in the Ukraine became a joke, when Joe Biden got before the Ukrainian parliament talking about sweetheart deals, and reforming the energy sector, I can only imagine how they were laughing under their breath. What about your son, Vice President Biden, sitting on the most corrupt board in Ukraine, Burisma, receiving $3 million dollars. I can only imagine if a Republican done what Biden had done. But we’re going to get to the bottom of this. And I can prove beyond any doubt that Joe Biden’s effort in the Ukraine to root out corruption was undercut because he let his son sit on the board of the most corrupt company in the Ukraine and we’ll not give him a pass on that.

BARTIROMO: So you’re not going to give him a pass. How are you going to get to the bottom of it? Should we expect your committee to call to testify Hunter Biden, whistle employer, Adam Schiff, all of those names you’ve been talking about. Is this going to happen this upcoming week, then?

GRAHAM: It’s going to happen in the coming weeks. Jim Risch is the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. Jim, if you’re watching the show, I hope you are, we need to call chief of staff to John Kerry who was told about the conflict of interest with Hunter Biden being on Burisma’s board early on. Heinz, the stepson of John Kerry was a business partner of Hunter Biden and Devon Archer. And he told the State Department, I’m not part of this deal. I don’t think it is right. George Kent told the State Department it would be a conflict for Hunter Biden to be on the Burisma board. Let’s start there. Let’s call these people in. Eventually, we’ll get to Hunter Biden. And I want to know why the Obama administration did nothing about this obvious conflict of interest. Joe Biden should have given up the Ukrainian portfolio or Hunter Biden should have been taken off the board. Because they ruined America’s ability to effectively deal with corruption in the Ukraine by having Hunter Biden on the board of Burisma. That is just a fact. And we’re going to get to the bottom of it.