Dylan Byers (of rival CNN) asks a good question. Why did they pull Napolitano off the air for making this claim in the first place if they were only going to let him keep making it once he returned? That was supposed to be a punishment, wasn’t it?
Also, it should probably matter that one of Napolitano’s sources — allegedly — claims he got details of the story wrong, right? Larry Johnson, a former intel officer who’s famous online for, er, mostly other reasons, told the New York Times two weeks ago that “Mr. Napolitano called him on Friday and requested that he speak to The New York Times. Mr. Johnson said he was one of the sources for Mr. Napolitano’s claim about British intelligence.” CNN invited him on to discuss that, whereupon Johnson accused Napolitano of having distorted some of the information:
Johnson, a former CIA analyst and former Fox News contributor, told CNN’s “Reliable Sources” on Sunday that Napolitano made him a source unknowingly and “didn’t get it right, [or] accurate either.”…
Johnson said two sources told him that the British intelligence agency GHCQ had been passing information through back channels about the intelligence community’s meddling in U.S. politics, even before Thursday’s press briefing. That was when Spicer cited allegations Napolitano made — apparently fueled partially by Johnson — earlier in the week on Fox News that the GHCQ had spied on Trump.
“Now, I had known about the fact that the British through GHCQ were passing information back-channel. This was not done at the direction of Barack Obama. Let’s be clear about that. It was being done with the full knowledge of people like John Brennan and Jim Clapper,” Johnson said Sunday…
“I’m not saying the British GHCQ was wiretapping Trump’s Tower. … [Napolitano] shouldn’t have used the word wiretap. I call it an ‘information operation’ that’s been directed against President Trump and people like John Brennan,” Johnson said.
How did Johnson and Napolitano come to discuss this? It’s not clear that they did. Johnson claims he heard it from people who were in a “position to know,” then posted something about it on an online discussion board. “I posted that on the discussion board and one of the individuals there shared that with the judge,” Johnson told CNN. And bing bang boom — before you know it, it was on the air on Fox News, then being repeated by Sean Spicer in the White House briefing room, and then being addressed by the president of the United States in a joint presser with the chancellor of Germany. Information travels fast in Trump’s America.
Here it is traveling again this morning on Fox. Exit question: Will Republicans nuke the filibuster to confirm Justice Napolitano?