Trump’s Special Relationship With Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton

Tom Fitton speaking with attendees at the 2018 Student Action Summit hosted by Turning Point USA at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

President Donald Trump seems to have a special relationship with Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton. On Wednesday, the president retweeted Fitton or Judicial Watch a total of 11 times on topics ranging from a critique of Attorney General William Barr to an accusation against former Secretary of State John Kerry for allegedly violating the Logan Act. 

Judicial Watch portrays itself as a conservative watchdog and legal operation, but appears to be more of a communications shop for the right’s messaging, cherry-picking findings gleaned from documents obtained through FOIA requests and actively promoting conspiracy theories that serve the right’s goals. Perhaps the most telling example of this is Judicial Watch’s recent lawsuit against the FBI for documents related to Seth Rich, whose death has been the source of numerous right-wing conspiracy theories.

Trump’s retweets Wednesday mostly focused on the latest controversy the president has waded into: the sentencing of Roger Stone, convicted felon and personal friend of the president. Last week, Trump tweeted that Department of Justice prosecutors’ suggested sentence for Stone of seven to nine years was “a miscarriage of justice.” The attorney general then intervened, and the DOJ withdrew the sentencing recommendation made by the prosecutors, prompting four prosecutors to resign from the case in apparent protest. Amid a deluge of criticism, and with more than 2,000 former DOJ officials calling for Barr’s resignation, Barr claimed last week that the president’s tweets made it hard to do his job, while sources this week reportedly said that Barr had considered resigning. 

In a series of tweets, Fitton defended Trump’s tweets and suggested that Barr wasn’t doing a good enough job of ridding the DOJ of corrupt government officials, which Fitton suggests are everywhere. Trump retweeted Fitton’s interview on Fox News:

“I’m hopeful that he [Barr] tries to get control of the Justice Department,” Fitton said on Fox News. “You know Judicial Watch is facing opposition from the Justice Department in getting accountability, even through the simple FOIA process. It’s troubling. The attorney general has to understand [that] it ain’t regular business at the Justice Department. This week began with a slap at the attorney general, an attack on the president through the disabuse of Stone, and it ended frankly with another slap and attack at the president and attorney general.”

“If he thinks he’s being well served by the careers surrounding him, he better take another look at who’s advising him,” Fitton continued. He then took a rhetorical shot Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the former member of the White House national security staff who testified before the House impeachment inquiry regarding Trump’s infamous July 25 phone call with the president of Ukraine, and another against the FBI director fired by the president for pursuing an investigation of the Trump campaign’s contacts with agents of the Russian Federation. “There are thousands of Vindmans, thousands of James Comeys, and they’re not not working for you and I,” Fitton said. “The president is still the constitutional officer in charge of the executive branch,” he added. 

Later in the interview, Fitton plugged the Spygate conspiracy theory, which claims that “deep state” actors spied on Trump from within the U.S. government during the 2016 presidential election, claiming that Barr hadn’t done enough to prosecute them.

“I’m not seeing indications–you know what real criminal investigation looks like–I’m not seeing any of that out of this Justice Department on the worst corruption scandal in American history–illegal spying on a sitting president. The president is right to be frustrated. He should be tweeting more and directing the Justice Department more on this.” 

In another tweet, Fitton appeared to defend Barr against the alleged deep state actors. 

And lastly, Fitton is of two–no, three–minds on Barr.