Who were Fox analyst's sources on Obama claim? Consultant explains his side

Tracing the origin of the UK wiretapping lie
Tracing the origin of the UK wiretapping lie

A blogger and former CIA analyst says he was a source for an uncorroborated claim made on Fox News about supposed spying at Trump Tower -- but he says he didn't mean to be.

Larry Johnson outlined a complicated series of events on CNN's "Reliable Sources" on Sunday that he says led Judge Andrew Napolitano, Fox News' top judicial analyst, to make his explosive claim. Napolitano had tried to back up President Trump's baseless accusation that President Obama had his "wires tapped" during the 2016 campaign.

Napolitano initially cited "intelligence community members" who believed British intelligence spied on Trump. During a later segment, he said his sources told him President Obama asked Britain to spy.

Related: Reporting or commentary? Napolitano claim shows Fox's blurry line

It's still not clear who all of Napolitano's sources were, and Fox News has declined CNN's requests to elaborate. Johnson's name emerged this weekend when Napolitano asked him to speak to the New York Times about the claim.

Johnson once worked for the CIA, but left the government three decades ago to start a consulting business. He worked as a television analyst for several years before starting his own blog on terrorism and intelligence.

On Sunday, Johnson said his phone call with Napolitano this weekend was the first he had heard from the judge, and that he wasn't "knowingly" a source.

Instead, Johnson said he floated the gist of what would become Napolitano's report — that the British were gathering information on Trump and passing it to the United States — during an interview with RT, the news network funded by the Russian government. He appeared on the network earlier this month after Trump tweeted his wiretapping claim.

Johnson cited his own anonymous sources within the intelligence community as the basis for his claims in that interview. And his information differed from what Napolitano said on Fox News, he said.

"This was not done at the direction of Barack Obama. Let's be clear about that," Johnson said Sunday.

Related: Donald Trump: A Fox News president

Johnson said he also posted that information on an Internet discussion board, which another member shared with Napolitano.

Napolitano's report has caused international controversy. British officials denounced the story as "ridiculous" after White House press secretary Sean Spicer cited Napolitano to back up President Trump's wiretapping claims.

The network's news division says it does not have any proof of Napolitano's claims. Fox News says Napolitano stands by his report.


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