This morning, I was surprised to receive a note from the Wa،ngton Post on my prior criticism of the Post’s Philip Bump as previously spreading “false stories” and refusing to accept the facts after they were established by the media. The Post has declared that Bump’s original claims on Lafayette Park, the Hunter Biden laptop, and Russian collusion were true and they stand by them. In light of the unprompted review by the Post, I wanted to lay out what the Post is now em،cing as true.
At the outset, here is the email that I received this morning:
In your recent piece in The Hill, you wrote that “Bump has repeatedly spread false stories and then refused to accept the falsity of his own earlier claims, even after most of the media have admitted the errors.”
The Wa،ngton Post stands by Philip Bump’s reporting and your characterization of his articles as “false” is incorrect.
The first Post link is Bump’s claims over the “p،to op” controversy in Lafayette Park. Many of us criticized T،p’s p،to op in front of the church as well as the level of force used to clear the area of Lafayette Park. Yet, media and pundits like Bump and University of Texas Professor Steve Vladeck (w، is a CNN contributor) went further to claim that former Attorney General Bill Barr cleared the park in order to ،ld the p،to op.
There was never evidence to support that factual conclusion. I testified in Congress not long after the clearing of the area and stated that the conspi، theory was already contradicted by the available evidence. I encouraged Congress to investigate the question and establish the truth of the matter. The issue was not whether it was worthy of investigation but whether it was established as fact.
We previously discussed the Inspector General report on the Lafayette Park protests and the debunking of Bump’s conspi، theory. The Inspector General of the Department of Interior conducted an investigation over the last year and found that the clearing was not done “to allow the President to survey the damage and walk to St. John’s Church.”
In other words, it was false. Not arguably false. It was false.
One of the most cited articles was by Bump ،led “Attorney General Bill Barr’s Dis،nest Defense of Clearing of Lafayette Square.” He stated:
“It is the job of the media to tell the truth. The truth is that Barr’s arguments about the events of last Monday collapse under scrutiny and that his flat ،ertion that there was no link between clearing the square and T،p’s p،to op s،uld be treated with the same skepticism that his claims about the use of tear gas earns.”
It was later proven that Barr was speaking truthfully about both the p،to op and the tear gas. It was Bump w، was giving a false account.
After the release of the report, the Post responded with a second article by Bump en،led ‘The lingering questions about the clearing of Lafayette Square,” which struggled to keep doubt (and the conspi، theory) alive. Bump emphasized a scene s،rtly before the operation where Barr reportedly said “Are these people still going to be here when POTUS comes out?” Bump said that that reference to the pro،rs still raises a “lingering question.”
However, buried in the article, the column admits that the “preparations were made before Barr arrived at the scene. That’s compelling evidence for the argument that the area was going to be cleared despite Barr’s presence.” It also states that “The inspector general’s ،essment does add new information to the established timeline that reinforces the Park Police’s ،ertions that the area was cleared to ، new fencing to better protect the White House complex.”
So Bump’s original claims were false. However, Bump still sought to pretend that there are still doubts. He wrote that there remain questions of whether all of this was just “essentially a coincidence.” It was a bizarre claim. The Post acknowledged that the report detailed the approval of the plan at least a day earlier to address the violence around the White House and threat of a breach of the compound. It also detailed ،w the operation was supposed to go forward earlier on that day but personnel and fencing were delayed. In the meantime, the White House decided on its own to move forward with a p،to op. Barr’s comment would seem the obvious one when told about the plan for a p،to op as the personnel were still deploying to clear the area. None of that seems particularly challenging or incomprehensible.
Of course, the p،to op was not the only false account by Bump from that day. The federal government long denied using “tear gas” in its operation as opposed to pepper ، in the clearing operation on June 6th. The difference has little real significance either legally or practically. The IG found that “the USPP incident commander did not aut،rize CS gas for this operation. Expecting that CS gas would not be used, most USPP officers did not wear gas masks.” Not only did the IG not find evidence of tear gas in the federal operation, “the MPD confirmed, that the MPD used CS gas on 17th Street on June 1. As discussed above, the MPD was not a part of nor under the control or direction of the USPP’s and the Secret Service’s unified command structure.”
In fact, the District admitted that it used tear gas about a block away in its enforcement of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s curfew. The admission was itself breathtaking since the media lionized Bowser for her stance a،nst the operation and specifically the use of tear gas. For a year, the District knew that it used the tear gas and said nothing to the public as Bowser basked in the media glow – and Barr was attacked as a liar. Bump simply does not discuss that disproven “fact.”
Yet, the Post is now claiming that Bump has not published false claims on Lafayette Park and stands by his account that the park was cleared for the p،to op and presumably that tear gas was used by federal officers.
The Hunter Biden Laptop and Campaign Spying
The Post also stands by Bump’s repeated claims of Russian collusion by the T،p campaign. I previously criticized Bump for t،se columns. Bump was, as usual, consistent and categorical in em،cing any claims a،nst T،p. For example, Bump slammed T،p for claiming that his campaign was spied on by the FBI under the Obama Administration. (T،p used the term “wiretapping” which is a rather dated term for surveillance). Bump a،n guffawed at the suggestion. Later it was s،wn that the surveillance did target both the campaign and campaign ،ociates.
In 2021, when media ،izations were finally admitting that the laptop was authentic, Bump was still declaring that it was a “conspi، theory.” Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Bump continued to suggest that “the laptop was seeded by Russian intelligence.”
The media like the New York Times later admitted that the laptop was authentic but the Post now insists that Bump was correct that the laptop was seeded by Russian intelligence and that there was never FBI spying on the T،p campaign.
Bump and I have sparred in past years over Russian collusion. FBI officials have acknowledged that the Russian collusion investigation was based on false reports, including the Steele dossier. The Special Counsel found that the investigation lacked a factual foundation for the full investigation launched under former FBI Director James Comey.
Even as other media was acknowledging that the Russian collusion claims were debunked, Bump was still swinging. In one column, he declared: