by Peter Hasson
Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe has habitually spread conspiracy theories, but that hasn’t prevented him from maintaining a presence in the national media.
Tribe was among several high-profile figures to amplify a false conspiracy theory in February that President Donald Trump had teamed up with Saudi Arabian Prince Mohammed bin Salman to leak Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s affair to the National Enquirer.
“Are Donald Trump and the murderous Saudi Prince bin Salman co-conspirators with David Pecker and AMI in a failed criminal plot to blackmail and extort Jeff Bezos as owner of the Washington Post? Asking for a friend in the Southern District of New York,” Tribe wrote on Twitter, where he has more than 492,000 followers.
His conspiratorial post was shared thousands of times across Twitter.
Are Donald Trump and the murderous Saudi Prince bin Salman co-conspirators with David Pecker and AMI in a failed criminal plot to blackmail and extort Jeff Bezos as owner of the Washington Post? Asking for a friend in the Southern District of New York.
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) February 8, 2019
The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the Enquirer had paid the brother of Bezos’s mistress $200,000 for text messages between the two lovers, confirming a Daily Beast report that identified the brother — not the Saudis — as the Enquirer’s source. Tribe’s tweet was still up as of Wednesday evening.
The Harvard Law professor has made a habit of spreading baseless conspiracy theories, seemingly without repercussion.
In one instance, Tribe implied that a Russian plane crash in February 2018 was a cover-up of collusion between Trump and Russia.
His tweet, which again received thousands of retweets, read: “Among those killed in the tragic plane crash yesterday: Sergei Millian, a Papadopoulis [sic] friend who had emailed Kushner and is said to be behind one of the most salacious claims in the dossier on Trump’s involvement with Russia. Probably just coincidence. .”
He sarcastically added that the “coincidence” “[s]ounds plausible.”
Tribe’s viral claim was nowhere close to the truth. Millian wasn’t on the plane.
In December 2018, Tribe shared a left-wing blog post titled “Mueller Hints That Mike Pence May Be Indicted Soon.” There is no evidence to support that headline, and the vice president has not been indicted.
“The title of this piece gets well ahead of its skis in terms of actual substance,” Tribe conceded, before continuing “but the evidence described provides rich food for thought. And if Pence is truly in Mueller’s cross-hairs, that’s a huge game-changer.”
No reporting to date supports the claim that Pence is “in Mueller’s cross-hairs.” The blog Tribe cited, PoliticusUSA.com, has a track record of spreading misinformation.
In January, Tribe cited the same blog to say that Trump’s announcement of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plans to travel to Afghanistan during the government shutdown bordered on “treason” by giving “aid and comfort” to the Taliban.
Tribe’s role as internet conspiracist hasn’t prevented national media outlets from elevating his profile, quoting him in their articles and hosting him on their panels.
Tribe has appeared on MSNBC five times this year, according to a transcript search on the media monitoring service Grabien.
The Washington Post cited Tribe in an article Monday about Republican Iowa Rep. Steve King, who shared a meme on Facebook saying that Republican states would win in a civil war because they have “8 trillion more bullets.” King deleted the post after criticism.
The Post quoted a tweet from Tribe, who said that King “isn’t actually COMMITTING treason, but he is fomenting and inciting it.” Tribe said King’s meme provided the House of Representatives “[a]mple reason to expel him.”
Tribe’s media appearances have continued long after a May 2017 BuzzFeed report noted his established track record of spreading anti-Trump conspiracy theories.
In one instance BuzzFeed documented, Tribe shared an article from the Palmer Report, a left-wing blog known for spreading misinformation, that claimed Trump had paid then-Republican Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz “$10 million in Russian money” in advance of the 2016 election.
The only source for the conspiracy theory was a tweet from an anonymous Twitter user.
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