More material surfaced over the weekend, via the results of a FOIA campaign by BuzzFeed and, later, CNN. The documents are reports known as “302s” that stem from interviews by Mueller’s investigators. The Mueller imperative, as authorized in a May 2017 Justice Department order, was to check into possible “links and/or coordination” between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia. Accordingly, Mueller’s folks interrogated a number of individuals with knowledge of the campaign’s activities.
And who shows up here and there in the documents? Hannity.
For instance, the 302 of Rick Gates, former Trump deputy campaign chairman, notes that Gates told investigators that “Trump and Manafort talked to Sean Hannity in their offices often.” The document dump, too, includes an email from Manafort just a few days before the 2016 presidential election that references a memo about “preserving the victory” that he expected on Election Day. “This memo deals with this concern. I sent this to Reince [Priebus], and briefed Rick Gates and Hannity,” wrote Manafort.
The material here is significant because it showcases Trump campaign aides attesting to the centrality of Hannity in their maneuvers. The effort to elect Trump, after all, couldn’t proceed without ensuring that their chief propagandist was looped in on all their talking points, their deflections and their innumerable attacks.
It is not surprising to find these tidbits on government documents. After all, there are the text messages between Hannity and Manafort referenced above; there’s the 2018 revelation that Hannity shared a lawyer — Michael Cohen, now serving a federal prison sentence — with the president; there’s the widely known fact that Hannity routinely chats with and advises President Trump over the phone; there’s the fact that Hannity paid to fly a vice presidential candidate to meet with Trump during the presidential election; there’s Hannity’s participation in a video promotion for the Trump campaign; and there’s Hannity’s appearance with Trump at a midterm election rally in November 2018.
All of which is to say that Hannity has followed a Trumpian strategy for breaking the news: Flood the airwaves with so much ethical depravity that people stop caring or they chalk it up to the routine activities of an opinion host. The Erik Wemple Blog asked Fox News if this activity violates any network guidelines, if Hannity ever reported any of the material that he discovered in all these briefings and whether Fox News had a right to all this information, so that it could inform its viewers. We have not received a response.
There are likely more Hannity references in the pages to come. As BuzzFeed reports, further installments from the FOIA’d materials “will be released every month for at least the next eight years.”
Fox News’s top host probably shouldn’t worry, however. He has a job in which he’s allowed to commit massive ethical transgressions of his own, blast other media outlets for picayune or nonexistent ones, and then rely on their reporting for his segments. No wonder he loves his country.
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