Fox News Contributor John Solomon Contacted Trump Allies Before Peddling Dubious Claims by Ukranian Officials Regarding Biden Family
Inquiry Seeks to Determine Whether Trump Officials Directed Solomon’s Reporting, Pushing a Misinformation Campaign on the American Public in Violation of Anti-Propaganda Laws
Washington D.C.— Today, Democracy Forward submitted a Freedom of Information Act request with the Department of State for communications between Trump administration officials and Fox News contributor John Solomon. Solomon, a former reporter at The Hill, was the first to publish a series of disputed articles containing unsubstantiated allegations of corruption involving Biden family business dealings in Ukraine, which served as a pretext for President Trump’s infamous July 25, 2019 call with Ukranian President Zelensky. Reports show that Solomon was in contact with several of President Trump’s allies for his Ukraine-Biden stories. In addition, Solomon’s reporting was featured in a section entitled “Circumstances leading up to the 25 July Presidential phone call” in a whistleblower complaint outlining concerns that the call and related actions pose risks to “U.S. national security and undermine the U.S. Government’s efforts to deter and counter foreign interference in U.S. elections.”
“The public deserves to know whether high-level Trump administration officials used John Solomon as a vehicle to spread misinformation that President Trump used to justify his request that a foreign government investigate a political rival,” said Democracy Forward Press Secretary Charisma Troiano. “The requested records could expose potentially illegal government propaganda.”
Solomon has long been criticized for biased reporting, and many of his former colleagues reportedly saw his stories as “overtly ideological, convoluted, and often lacking in crucial context.” The FOIA request seeks records of communications between Solomon and State Department officials including, among others:
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
William “Bill” Taylor, U.S. chargé d’affaires in Ukraine
Kurt Volker, former special U.S. envoy to Ukraine
George Sondland, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union
The FOIA request includes messages sent via encrypted apps such as WhatsApp and Signal, a tactic Trump administration officials have used to evade scrutiny, despite such use potentially violating the Federal Records Act.
Democracy Forward is investigating further efforts by the Trump administration to coordinate with Fox News and similar media outlets in ways that may violate anti-propaganda laws.
The FOIA request was submitted Wednesday, October 16, 2019.
Democracy Forward is a nonprofit legal organization that scrutinizes Executive Branch activity across policy areas, represents clients in litigation to challenge unlawful actions, and educates the public when the White House or federal agencies break the law.