Moving from a brand-name outlet to a DIY website, however, hasn’t much dimmed Solomon’s influence among conservatives on Capitol Hill. In a Fact Checker column on Wednesday, The Post’s Glenn Kessler sought explanations from reps for Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) for assertions the lawmakers had made about certain events in Ukraine bearing on the ongoing impeachment proceedings. Graham’s office referred him to a relevant news account, though Kessler determined that it didn’t quite corroborate a Nov. 21 letter that Graham had sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
So Kessler renewed his efforts, pressing Nunes’s office on the matter, as well. An hour or two later, he got a call — from Solomon. "Out of the blue we received a phone call from John Solomon, a former Washington Post reporter who apparently was the source for Republicans. He said two people from Capitol Hill had alerted him to our inquiry,” writes Kessler.
Which is to say, Solomon is now doing press for Republicans.
The Kessler fact-check is heavy on minutiae relating to a period in late 2015 and early 2016 when then-Vice President Joe Biden was pressuring Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to crack down on corruption, including a famous demand to fire Viktor Shokin, who was Ukraine’s prosecutor general at the time. A false narrative — in part enabled by Solomon’s reporting for the Hill — maintains that Biden lobbied for Shokin’s sacking to ease pressure on a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma Holdings, that was paying the vice president’s son Hunter up to $50,000 a month to serve on its board. As Kessler points out, the truth lies in the opposite direction: Biden, his colleagues in the Obama administration and Western allies wanted Shokin out because he was weak on corruption.
The episode illustrates the overlap between Solomon’s reporting and Republican talking points. Graham’s letter to Pompeo asks for documents that might shed light on “allegations that Vice President Biden played a role in the termination of Prosecutor General Shokin in an effort to end the investigation of the company employing his son.” The request is premised upon these considerations, per Graham’s letter:
Compare that with Solomon’s timeline:
Notice the overlaps? Asked about the Solomon situation, Senate Judiciary Committee spokeswoman Taylor Reidy responded in an email that Graham is continuing to investigate what Hunter Biden “was doing on the board of a Ukrainian gas company,” considering his lack of experience in the energy sector. “As we investigate these troubling issues we will continue to follow and consult with a number of sources both inside and outside the government, including John Solomon’s reporting. We welcome others, including the media, to join in investigating these issues as well. For the most part, many media outlets have chosen to simply scoff at the troubling, unanswered questions of Ukraine corruption.”
We’ve also sought comment from Solomon and from Nunes’s office. We’ll update this post if we get a response.
Kessler awarded Four Pinocchios to both Graham and Nunes for their assertions about Biden’s phone calls and how they allegedly coincided with raids on the home of Burisma founder Mykola Zlochevsky in February 2016. In reality, notes Kessler, “nothing significant” happened in this time period, “except primarily the reinstatement of a previous court order.”
The episode shows the continued demand for Solomon’s work, even after his departure from the Hill and a career steeped in flimsy, debunked and tendentious stories. There’s demand on the Internet, there’s demand on Fox News and there’s demand among powerful GOP lawmakers. That’s all good news for Solomon’s next step: a media start-up that might just have some eager funders.
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