Fox News host Sean Hannity has welcomed disgraced conservative journalist and serial misinformer John Solomon back for regular appearances on his prime-time show to rail against the FBI search for classified government documents at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence.
In 2019, Solomon appeared over 50 times on Hannity’s show, where he regularly pushed Ukraine-linked conspiracy theories meant to undermine the validity of the Trump-Russia investigation that dominated headlines during the first years of the Trump presidency and was at the center of his first impeachment trial. Solomon was later fired from his position as a Fox News contributor for his role in coordinating a “disinformation campaign” to protect Trump, and his appearances on the network fell off.
During this period, Fox News' research division, dubbed the “Brain Room,” sent out a 162-page memo that outlined Hannity and Solomon's coordinated campaign to protect Trump and muddy the waters around the Russia investigation. The memo criticized the team of two for being unreliable and effectively led to Solomon's firing. Hannity, however, did not appear to be outwardly punished.
Now that Trump is in hot water again following the search for classified nuclear documents, Hannity has continuously invited Solomon onto his show to defend the former president.
Solomon’s appearances on Hannity skyrocketed after the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago. In the less than two weeks since the search on August 8, Solomon has appeared 6 times on Hannity’s show. By contrast, Solomon appeared sporadically on Hannity in the roughly seven months prior, with 6 appearances before August 8.
Solomon, who is currently the editor-in-chief of the right-wing news outlet Just the News, was named by Trump as a representative for the National Archives on June 19, allegedly to review documents relating to the Trump-Russia probe alongside former Trump official Kash Patel.
Solomon’s appointment came after the Justice Department issued a grand jury subpoena to Trump to recover missing materials. FBI agents were shown around Mar-a-Lago and seized documents on June 3 following the initial grand jury subpoena. According to Solomon, who first reported on the subpoena, Trump allegedly cooperated with the agents at the time.
Solomon claims that his role as Trump’s representative to the National Archives does not have to do with the classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. The Washington Post’s Philip Bump, however, has noted that the timing is peculiar.
Perhaps this is a coincidence. Perhaps Trump just got around to naming Patel and Solomon as he’d intended to do all along.
Or, perhaps, he and his team understood that the government’s interest in what he had in that storage room near the Mar-a-Lago pool hadn’t waned, and that it would be useful to loop his two allies into the community of people with some credible authorization for viewing what he’d taken from the White House.
Solomon’s Trump defenses return to Hannity
When Solomon was coordinating his propaganda campaign in defense of Trump during the Russia investigation, he worked closely with then-Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and two Soviet-born con men to implant disinformation into the conservative media ecosystem. Utilizing his position as executive vice president of digital video at The Hill, Solomon published at least 45 opinion columns that undermined the investigation into Russia interfering in the 2016 election. Solomon was fed information for these columns by Giuliani and his Ukrainian associates. Solomon then laundered his conspiracy theory-laden stories to millions of viewers on Hannity’s prime-time show.
Now, he’s using the same show to defend Trump after federal agents reportedly recovered 11 sets of classified documents from his Florida home.
While speaking with Hannity on August 8, Solomon declared that “the president is his own ultimate declassifying authority.”
During his August 12 appearance on Hannity, Solomon again claimed that the president has “absolute authority” to declassify documents.
Solomon, uncritically reading a statement from Trump’s team, said Trump has a “standing order” to declassify and “the power to classify and declassify documents rests solely on the president of the United States.”
On August 15, Solomon again defended Trump on Hannity’s program, claiming the FBI search had shown a “lack of precision” and was not following “basic rules.”
It’s worth noting that whether or not the documents at Mar-a-Lago were classified does not absolve Trump of any wrongdoing. As explained by The New York Times, “laws against taking material with restricted national security information are not dependent on whether the material is technically classified.”