Fact Checking Brian Stelter and Judge Napolitano’s GHCQ Claims

brian stelter

On March 16th I wrote extensively on Fox News tip-toeing around an absolute bombshell brought up by their contributor Judge Andrew Napolitano, who claimed 3 separate intelligence sources told Fox News that the Obama administration had used GHCQ [British Intelligence] to spy on President Trump during the transition period.

We reported:

“Now Fox News is finding itself it hot water again. It may turn out that they are vindicated, but it also may be that the sources will forever stay anonymous. The example is Judge Andrew Napolitano, a Fox News contributor. He told both Varney & Co and Fox & Friends that three intelligence sources have told Fox News that President Obama enlisted the help of Great Britain to use British intelligence to do surveillance on Trump Tower. It is an understatement to say that if proven true, a sitting President using foreign intelligence sources to spy on political rivals borders on treason. This type of charge should not be made lightly. The rest of the day the charge was widely ignored by Fox News. Even rabid Trump supporter Sean Hannity ignored it, even though his evening show was focused on charges President Obama may have ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower during the election. The next day, Napolitano mentioned it again on Fox and Friends. The only follow up so far is that Fox has sent out a tweet with the allegation. Other than that…Crickets.”

“The question I am having difficulty answering is whether Fox News doesn’t believe that this charge has any credibility, which is so they should issue both a retraction and apology to President Obama. The other question, and even more importantly, if they believe this is credible, why the caution? If this is credible, this could be one of the biggest stories of all time. Could it be they are afraid of what the revelation could do to their other contributors? Their reputation on Social Media? Only time will tell.”

Fox News failed to report/expand on this story until almost 2 days later, and only with a single tweet and article. Then Fox News “benched” (not suspended, they claim) Judge Napolitano “indefinitely” because their news division could not verify the Judge’s claims and now, ‘Nap is back. Not only has he returned to Fox News, but he stands behind his claims that the GCHQ was spying on Donald Trump and his team. Washington Examiner reported:

“Yes, I do and the sources stand by it,” Napolitano said when asked if he’s sticking by the story. “And the American public needs to know more about this rather than less because a lot of the government surveillance authority will expire in the fall and there will be a great debate about how much authority we want the government to have to surveil us, and the more the American public knows about this the more informed their and the Congress’ decision will be.”

He added that “a lot more is going to come” on the issue.

One of Napolitano’s three alleged sources appeared on Brian Stelter’s CNN program Reliable Sources.” Larry Johnson, a former CIA analyst and State Department Counter terrorism employee was contacted by Judge Napolitano, who told Johnson that Johnson was a source. On “Reliable Sources” Johnson refuted the claim that he ever said anything about President Trump specifically being spied on, but he had two intelligence sources who that told him that GHCQ was passing surveillance information of American citizens on to the NSA (National Security Agency). Brian Stelter is quick to go on the offense and attack Johnson for not having direct evidence. Johnson refutes that claim by telling Stelter that yes, his sources are direct, as they are “in a position to know.”

judge napolitano

Judge Andrew Napolitano, contributor to Fox News & Fox Business

So in a world of fake news and anonymous sources (which CNN seems to use and promote often), what exactly constitutes “direct evidence.” If you’re a prosecutor, physical evidence and/or witness testimony in the presence of the accused is Constitutionally required. If those were the standards for journalism, not many, if any stories would break. Whistle-blowers would be risking far more if they had to get physical evidence (many already do) along with their testimony. Now journalists can abuse this power and make up sources, and it has happened in the past, but is highly unethical and can ruin a career. Even in the arguably most blatant “fake news” to come out recently, Buzzfeed’s “Piss-gate” Dossier, they were still relying on their sources. Terrible sources, but still actual sources.  When a journalist publishes a story based on the source, they are putting their reputation, career, and publication’s reputation on the line. They are ‘going to bat’ for these sources. That being said, Johnson has a good reputation and he is claiming that his sources have direct knowledge, not second-hand information, the GHCQ does the NSA’s dirty work.

If Judge Napolitano used Larry Johnson and Larry Johnson’s two sources/forum posts as his sources and then twisted their claims to fit President Trump’s claims, then we have ourselves a case of fake news. It is possible that Andrew Napolitano used Johnson’s sources as his own and twisted claims to break a story. One (Larry Johnson) plus two (Larry Johnson’s two sources) equals three, and Judge Napolitano claims that three separate intelligence sources made Fox News aware of this. For those accusing him of fake news, it could just be coincidence, but the numbers line up. It is also possible that through Johnson and/or his sources, Judge Napolitano was able to have direct contact with those sources or other sources familiar on the matter. It seems that Fox News, while not mentioning the GHCQ allegations on any programs or through any other anchors/contributors, is standing by Judge Napolitano’s claims and that he may be partially or completely vilified. House Intel Committee Chairman Devin Nunes briefed the President on information passed to him by a whistle blower, being made aware of intelligence documents that showed members of the Trump team had been victims surveillance and ordered to be unmasked by a high-ranking Obama Administration official. Fast forward to late April 2nd, Mike Cernovich broke the story that Susan Rice, Obama’s National Security Adviser, had ordered unmasking of Trump officials. Fox News and others confirmed through their sources that this is not only true, but the surveillance began when Donald Trump became the Republican nominee.

Judge Napolitano and President Trump are right about politically-motivated surveillance taking place. Brian Stelter shouldn’t be so quick to dismissing claims that GHCQ does the things at the behest of the NSA. Through one of Stelter’s favorite things, direct sources, The Guardian learned that GHCQ was paid over $125,000,000 over three years (2010-2013) by the NSA to conduct surveillance.

The funding underlines the closeness of the relationship between GCHQ and its US equivalent, the National Security Agency. But it will raise fears about the hold Washington has over the UK’s biggest and most important intelligence agency, and whether Britain’s dependency on the NSA has become too great.

In one revealing document from 2010, GCHQ acknowledged that the US had “raised a number of issues with regards to meeting NSA’s minimum expectations”. It said GCHQ “still remains short of the full NSA ask”.

Ministers have denied that GCHQ does the NSA’s “dirty work”, but in the documents GCHQ describes Britain’s surveillance laws and regulatory regime as a “selling point” for the Americans.

This President Trump wiretap/surveillance saga is exploding and there is only more information that will be coming out. For Brian Stelter to deny there is at least a half-truth to Judge Napolitano’s claims is dangerous. It is a fact that through leaks The Guardian was made aware of a special, hundred million dollar/pound relationship between two powerful intelligence agencies with little oversight. Make assumptions and conclusions on your own about what exactly transpired between the GHCQ and the NSA, but Brian Stelter can consider himself “fact-checked” for not recognizing the most reliable sources: the direct ones.

If the video of Brian Stelter’s interview with Larry Johnson is taken down for any reason, Halsey News has mirrored it on YouTube.

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About the Author

Justin Farrell
Justin is Conservative and accounting student. He is a Correspondent/Editor for Halsey News Network, as well as our in-house meme master. Send any tips or inquiries to justin@halseynews.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter @JustinFarrell96