Speed Reads

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Trump repeats conspiracy theory Fox News distanced itself from 2 years ago

President Trump on Wednesday repeated a conspiracy theory that British intelligence spied on his 2016 campaign, an idea that Fox News backed away from years ago.

Trump tweeted out a quote from a former CIA analyst, who on the right-wing One America News Network alleged that U.K. intelligence helped former President Barack Obama's administration spy on Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. Trump added that eventually, "the truth comes out."

If this sounds familiar, it should. This conspiracy theory was previously promoted by the White House in 2017, with Press Secretary Sean Spicer referencing it in a briefing. He got the idea from Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano, who had used former CIA analyst Larry Johnson as a source, per The New York Times.

After this theory was elevated by the White House, Fox News pushed back on it, with Shepard Smith saying on air, "Fox News cannot confirm Judge Napolitano's commentary. Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now-president of the United States was surveilled at any time, any way. Full stop.”

Napolitano was subsequently pulled from the network for a time, while Spicer defended himself as simply "passing on news reports." A spokesperson for U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May called the claims "ridiculous," also saying that "we've received assurances that these allegations won't be repeated," per CNN.

Still, Trump repeated the allegations two years later on Wednesday, just one day after announcing his upcoming U.K. visit — a visit that likely just became a lot more awkward.