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Tom Fitton

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Tom Fitton
Tom Fitton
Born
EducationGeorge Washington University (BA)
OccupationActivist
TitlePresident of Judicial Watch
MovementAmerican conservatism

Thomas J. Fitton is an American conservative activist and the president of Judicial Watch. Fitton is known for pro-Trump commentary.[1] Fitton is prominent for criticizing Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 United States presidential election; he has said that the investigation was a "coup" against U.S. President Donald Trump and called for it to be shut down.[2][3] In 2022, researchers found Fitton was the third-most prolific purveyor of election misinformation on Twitter during the late months of 2020.[4]

Fitton rejects the scientific consensus on climate change; under his tenure, Judicial Watch has filed lawsuits against climate scientists.[5][6]

Early life

Fitton was born in West Nyack, New York.[7] He graduated from Clarkstown High School South in 1986.[8] Fitton has a bachelor's degree in English from George Washington University.[9] His father was a manager at a supermarket and his mother was a nurse.[10]

Judicial Watch

Fitton has been the president of Judicial Watch since August 1998. The group primarily seeks access to government records by filing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and other public records act lawsuits and engaging in other forms of civil litigation.

In 2006, Larry Klayman, Judicial Watch's former chairman, attempted to reclaim control of Judicial Watch by suing Fitton, the organization, and its other officers and directors. Most of Klayman's claims, including all of the claims against Fitton and Judicial Watch's other officers and directors, were dismissed in 2009.[11]

On October 2, 2020, it was announced that Trump intended to appoint Fitton to the D.C. Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure.[12] He was officially appointed on November 10, 2020 and his term ends on July 29, 2025.[13]

Views

Zimmerman trial

In July 2013, Fitton falsely claimed that the Obama administration's Department of Justice had sent representatives to Sanford, Florida, following Trayvon Martin's death "to help organize and manage rallies and protests against George Zimmerman."[3]

Climate change

Fitton rejects the scientific consensus on climate change (global warming).[5] He said, "There has been scandal after scandal involving climate data and we are skeptical of government agencies that won't tell people what they are up to.... I’m sure scientists are concerned that funding for dubious research will be cut, but the truth will win out in the end."[5] Judicial Watch, which has claimed that climate science is "fraud science," has filed lawsuits seeking to force the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to release the correspondence of climate scientists who published a 2015 study in the journal Science.[6][14] The study had debunked one of the common claims made by climate change deniers: that there had been global warming "hiatus" from 1998 to 2012.[6] The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF), American Meteorological Society, and Union of Concerned Scientists condemned Judicial Watch by saying that the disclosure of private communications between scientists "would harm (or halt altogether) government scientists' ability to collaborate with colleagues, damage the government's ability to recruit or retain top scientists, and deter critically important research into politically charged fields like climate change."[6] The Judicial Watch lawsuit was inspired by US Representative Lamar Smith, who accused the authors of the study of "alter[ing] data" to "get the politically correct results they want."[6]

Support for Breitbart News

Judicial Watch has advertised for years on Breitbart News, the far-right website formerly run by Steve Bannon.[15] The site was defended by Fitton against calls for advertisers to drop them for advertising. Fitton stated, "Liberal activists want to destroy Breitbart, but we won't be cowed."[15]

Voting rights

Fitton said about voter fraud: "We have all heard about voter fraud and the attempts by liberal media organs like the New York Times and Ivory Tower academics to dismiss it as a nonexistent problem. But it is real, widespread, and substantial to the point that it can decide elections."[16] Fitton has alleged that hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants voted in the 2018 midterm elections.[17] There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in California or Texas.[17][18][19]

On February 3, 2020, the day of the Iowa caucuses in the Democratic presidential primary, Fitton suggested that voter fraud was afoot in Iowa by falsely claiming that "eight Iowa counties have more voter registrations than citizens old enough to register." Iowa's Secretary of State, Paul Pate, a member of the Republican Party, debunked Fitton's claim by linking to official voter registration data.[20][21]

In a video recording released in October 2020, in the lead-up to the 2020 election, Fitton called on fellow conservative activists at a conference to come up with ways to prevent mail-in-ballots from being distributed to voters.[22]

At the Conservative Political Action Conference in February 2021, Fitton falsely claimed that on the day of the 2020 United States presidential election, "President Trump had the votes to win the presidency. These vote totals were changed because of unprecedented and extraordinary counting after election day".[23]

Russian interference in the 2016 election

In 2017, Judicial Watch helped to stoke Republican attacks against Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.[24][2] He has referred to the Mueller probe as a "coup" against Trump.[25][26] Trump retweeted Fitton's remarks about a coup; PolitiFact rated the assertion that the Mueller probe was a coup as "pants-on-fire" false.[25] Trump frequently listens to Fitton and had mentioned Fitton at least five times in his tweets by August 2018, including a promotion of an upcoming Fitton appearance on Fox.[2] According to Politico, "Fitton's rhetoric is often indistinguishable from Trump's."[2] Fitton called for the Special Counsel investigation to be shut down and argued that prosecutors in the probe were too biased against Trump to conduct a credible investigation.[27] Fitton furthermore called for shutting down the Federal Bureau of Investigation "because it was turned into a KGB-type operation by the Obama administration."[28][29] Newsweek rated the claim "false", stating that "there is no comparison between the FBI and KGB."[30]

When Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney, pleaded guilty to crimes brought to light by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe in December 2018, Fitton dismissed the importance of the crimes. Fitton said it was "weak tea" and intended "to make President Trump look bad."[31]

COVID-19 pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Fitton has called on Trump to "reopen" the United States amid social distancing and lockdowns to prevent spread of the virus.[32] Fitton criticized Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House's leading epidemiology expert, and amplified right-wing conspiracy theories about Fauci.[33][34][35]

At an August 2020 meeting of the Council for National Policy, Fitton claimed that people on the American left are planning to delay the 2020 election tally until January 20, 2021, to allow House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to become acting president.[36] He later added that "it could cause civil war".[36]

Awards

Fitton received the American Conservative Union's 'Defender of the Constitution Award' during its annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in 2015.[37]

Works

  • Fitton, Tom (2014). The Corruption Chronicles: Obama's Big Secrecy, Big Corruption, and Big Government. New York: Threshold Editions. ISBN 978-1-4767-6705-5.
  • Fitton, Tom Clean House: Exposing Our Government's Secrets and Lies (New York: Threshold Editions, 2016). ISBN 978-1-5011-3704-4
  • Fitton, Tom (2020). A Republic Under Assault: The Left’s Ongoing Attack On American Freedom. New York: Threshold Editions. ISBN 978-1-9821-6365-5.

References

  1. ^ Rupar, Aaron (April 9, 2020). "Trump's case against mail-in voting has become increasingly desperate. His latest briefing showed it". Vox. Retrieved April 24, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d "'I know that he listens to Tom': Meet Trump's anti-Mueller ally". POLITICO. Retrieved August 14, 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Judicial Watch says Department of Justice unit organized protests against George Zimmerman". PolitiFact. July 12, 2013.
  4. ^ Hendrix, Justin (June 15, 2022). "Researchers Release Comprehensive Twitter Dataset of False Claims About The 2020 Election". Just Security.
  5. ^ a b c Milman, Oliver (February 22, 2017). "Climate scientists face harassment, threats and fears of 'McCarthyist attacks'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved December 25, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Climate scientists battle attacks on their research from conservatives, brace for more under Trump". InsideClimate News. February 6, 2017. Retrieved December 25, 2017.
  7. ^ "Q&A with Tom Fitton". C-SPAN. May 19, 2009. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  8. ^ "lohud.com | Celebrations | The Journal News". www.nyjnews.com. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  9. ^ "Thomas Fitton, Judicial Watch Inc: Profile & Biography". Bloomberg.
  10. ^ Neil NcCabe Washington Examiner
  11. ^ Klayman v. Judicial Watch, Inc., 628 F. Supp.2d 112, 118 (D.D.C. 2009).
  12. ^ www.whitehouse.gov
  13. ^ "Commission Membership | cjdt". cjdt.dc.gov. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  14. ^ Kurtz, Lauren (July 7, 2016). "Climate scientists are under attack from frivolous lawsuits | Lauren Kurtz". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved December 25, 2017.
  15. ^ a b Bhattarai, Abha (June 8, 2017). "Breitbart lost 90 percent of its advertisers in two months: Who's still there?". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved December 25, 2017.
  16. ^ Fitton, Tom (2016). Clean House: Exposing Our Government's Secrets and Lies. New York: Threshold Editions. p. 117. ISBN 978-1501137051.
  17. ^ a b "A resignation in Texas is a reminder of how Trump's vote-fraud claims come up empty". The Washington Post. 2019.
  18. ^ "Trump's latest California voter fraud claim is Pants on Fire". @politifact. Retrieved June 30, 2019.
  19. ^ Daniel Dale. "Trump makes yet another false claim about California voter fraud". CNN. Retrieved June 30, 2019.
  20. ^ Clayworth, Jason. "The misinformation campaign: Iowa SOS blasts Judicial Watch for insinuating voter fraud". Des Moines Register. Retrieved February 3, 2020.
  21. ^ "Conservatives push false claims of voter fraud on Twitter as Iowans prepare to caucus". The Washington Post. 2020.
  22. ^ "Videos show closed-door sessions of leading conservative activists: 'Be not afraid of the accusations that you're a voter suppressor'". The Washington Post. 2020.
  23. ^ Smith, David (February 28, 2021). "CPAC: pent-up Trump set to denounce Biden at rightwing summit". The Guardian. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  24. ^ Kranish, Michael; Barrett, Devlin; Demirjian, Karoun (December 24, 2017). "No longer a 'lonely battle': How the campaign against the Mueller probe has taken hold". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
  25. ^ a b "Was Donald Trump the target of a coup? No". @politifact. Retrieved May 12, 2019.
  26. ^ "Trump has video removed after rambling late-night Twitter storm about conspiracy theories and immigrants". The Independent. April 10, 2019. Retrieved May 12, 2019.
  27. ^ Barrett, Devlin; Sullivan, Sean (December 6, 2017). "Republicans hammer Mueller, FBI as Russia investigation intensifies". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
  28. ^ Anapol, Avery (December 14, 2017). "Conservative watchdog head: Do we need to shut down the FBI?". The Hill.
  29. ^ Davis, Julie Hirschfeld (February 2, 2018). "Trump Calls Justice Department and F.B.I. Conduct 'a Disgrace'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
  30. ^ "We fact-checked a Fox News guest's claim that Obama turned the FBI into the KGB". Newsweek. December 14, 2017. Retrieved December 17, 2017.
  31. ^ Nguyen, Tina (December 12, 2018). ""It's Weak Tea": For MAGA Super-Fans, Trump's Legal Nightmare is more fake news". Vanity Fair.
  32. ^ "Conservative Media's New Coronavirus Plan: Reopen The Country, No Matter Who Dies". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved April 2, 2020.
  33. ^ "As Trump signals readiness to break with experts, his online base assails Fauci". The Washington Post. 2020.
  34. ^ Singh, Maanvi (April 2, 2020). "Dr Fauci: security reportedly expanded as infectious disease expert faces threats". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved April 2, 2020.
  35. ^ Zilbermints, Regina (April 1, 2020). "Fauci given security detail after receiving threats". TheHill. Retrieved April 2, 2020.
  36. ^ a b O'Harrow, Robert (October 14, 2020). "Videos show closed-door sessions of leading conservative activists: 'Be not afraid of the accusations that you're a voter suppressor'". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  37. ^ Ross Hemminger (February 28, 2015). "Tom Fitton Presented with the Defender of the Constitution Award" (Press release). National Harbor, MD: American Conservative Union.

External links