Sean Hannity, the far-right Fox News pundit and staunch defender of President Donald Trump, compared the ongoing investigation by intelligence officials and Congress into Trump’s campaign ties with Russia to the “birtherism” conspiracy theory feverishly pushed by Trump for several years.
Hannity made the ironic comparison while speaking with Jay Sekulow, Trump’s new lawyer, on Monday night.
“This has now become like Russia, Trump, conspiracy, birther conspiracies,” he said, punctuating each word by waving his pen. “You know, sort of truthers. It’s gotten so bad.”
Hannity using the birtherism movement—where people incorrectly believed that former President Barack Obama was not born in the United States—as a comparison to the Russia investigations is an odd choice, considering Trump frequently pushed the idea before running for president and the Fox News host has dedicated several segments of his show over the years to the idea.
Unlike the birther theory, which first cropped up in 2004, the Trump–Russia controversy is very real—even if the president did nothing illegal. There are currently five ongoing, federal-level investigations into Russia’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 election, including four in Congress and a criminal investigation led by Special Prosecutor Robert Muller, which also reportedly encompasses a probe into Trump’s potential attempts to obstruct justice.
The subject of Obama’s birth certificate was a fixation of Trump’s, as he said he sent a team of investigators to Hawaii, Obama was born, to investigate the matter.
Trump was eventually forced to concede that he was wrong, admitting that Obama was in fact born in the United States, during his own campaign for president.
Hannity might think the birtherism movement is a conspiracy theory now, but in 2011 he thought it was worthy of a segment with, you guessed it, Trump.
“The Trump Interview” goes on for more than five minutes. Trump talks about birth certificates and other parts of the conspiracy theory at length during the interview, as Hannity nods along.
Hannity is no stranger to propping up right-wing conspiracy theories.
Last month, his show lost several advertisers as he continued to push the conspiracy theory that former Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was killed for leaking documents to WikiLeaks. The claims have not been disputed by Rich’s family and remain unconfirmed by authorities. Police maintain Rich was killed in a robbery gone wrong.
Despite this, Hannity propagated the theory, causing at least seven advertisers to pull commercials from his show. Fox News retracted a story about Rich’s death that perpetuated the theory.
You can watch Hannity make his surprising turnaround on birtherism here: