News of a conspiracy spreads quickly


U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson is at it again with those text messages between the infamous FBI lovers.

The Wisconsin Republican is the same guy who had previously read a light-hearted message to indicate there was some sort of secret society within the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and he was in the news again with a 25-page report on the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was secretary of state.

“The information available to the committee at this time raises serious questions about how the FBI applied the rule of law in its investigation of classified information on Secretary Clinton’s private email server,” the report said.

Johnson’s report found one message particularly troubling: The president, that message said, “wants to know everything we’re doing.”

Written in early September of 2016 by FBI attorney Lisa Page to her lover, FBI agent Peter Strzok, the message referred to President Barack Obama, and Johnson’s report cites the message as evidence that the former president might have been meddling in the investigation into Clinton’s emails.

News of Johnson’s report spread quickly in conservative media.

The Fox News headline read: “FBI lovers’ latest text messages: Obama ‘wants to know everything.’” Our current president, Donald J. Trump, was all over it.

“NEW FBI TEXTS ARE BOMBSHELLS!” the conspiracy theorist in chief declared on Twitter.

The fact that Barack Obama would want to know everything about an FBI investigation raised a lot of questions, the website said, particularly in light of the former president’s insistence that he had no involvement whatsoever in any ongoing investigations.

The website InfoWars even found a quote: “I do not talk to the attorney general about pending investigations,” the former president said in April 2016.

And he didn’t stop there.

“I guarantee it,” he said. “I guarantee that there is no political influence in any investigation conducted by the Justice Department or the FBI, not just in this case but in any case. Full stop. Period.”

The InfoWars report closed with a cartoon labeling the former president “the liar in chief.”

Here’s the problem: The FBI lawyer’s message wasn’t referring to the Clinton email investigation.

That investigation wasn’t active at the time. It would resume later when Clinton emails were discovered on disgraced former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner’s laptop, but the initial investigation had been closed in July when then-FBI Director James Comey announced he was recommending no criminal charges in the case.

Instead, FBI officials said the message involved the bureau’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Then-President Obama was set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a summit in China, and he apparently wanted to raise the issue at that meeting.

So maybe that text message wasn’t so suspicious after all.

Maybe the former president was doing what any president should do. He was gathering details about a foreign country’s effort to meddle in our election so that he could address the issue head on.

In a report, Wall Street Journal reporter Del Quentin Wilber went a bit further concerning the lovers’ text messages. He said his newspaper had examined many of the same messages reviewed by Johnson and had found “no overall conspiracy” against President Trump.

Of course, that hasn’t slowed down the conspiracy theorists.

They look at an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, and they see a conspiracy not by Russia, but by the FBI.

The world is a crazy place.

Kelly Hawes is a columnist for CNHI newspapers in Indiana. Send comments to [email protected].

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