Jeremy W. Peters reports at The New York Times on right-wing conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec, who tweeted in May that James Comey had denied under oath that Trump had asked him to stop the Kremlingate investigation. The claim was false: Comey had answered a question about DOJ, not Trump.
Once Mr. Posobiec pushed the send button on Twitter, the conservative media machinery kicked into gear. Later that day, Breitbart News published an account of Mr. Comey’s May 3 testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee under the headline “Comey Under Oath: ‘Have Not Experienced Any Requests to Stop FBI Investigations.’”
GotNews.com, a website that often misrepresents media accounts of the Russia investigation to cast Mr. Trump in a more favorable light, repeated the claim but also raised the possibility of a more serious offense. Mr. Comey, the site said, might have perjured himself if he had claimed in a memo — as outlets including The New York Times have reported — that Mr. Trump pressured him to call off an investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn.
The next day, the perjury question was the subject of an article on InfoWars, the home of Alex Jones, a conspiracy theorist who has called the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks an inside job and questioned whether the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., really happened. InfoWars had almost five million visitors in the last month.
That afternoon, Mr. Limbaugh was also onto the story, telling his audience, “Comey said, under Senate oath, he had never been pressured to halt any investigation.” As evidence, Mr. Limbaugh read straight from the GotNews.com article. The whole Russia investigation, he declared, is “a political witch hunt.”
That account of the Comey testimony has lived on in the weeks since, with Sean Hannity of Fox News citing it as recently as Tuesday night. “And by the way,” he insisted on his program, “James Comey also said it never happened.”