Rudy Giuliani has found a new ally in his globe-trotting attempts to fight President Trump’s impeachment, teaming up with a cable-news reporter and conspiracy-theory political cartoonist who has suggested that Hillary Clinton killed Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich and that Democrats eat people.
In his quest to defend Trump and dig up dirt on his political opponents, Giuliani has enlisted a wide variety of characters in both the United States and Europe. Now he’s placing a big bet on Chanel Rion, a One America News host who dabbles in bizarre conspiracy theories.
On Wednesday, The New York Times reported Giuliani traveled to Hungary and Ukraine this week to set up interviews with former Ukrainian prosecutors who have been critical of former Vice President Joe Biden. The interviews are meant for a series on pro-Trump cable channel One America News hosted by Rion, a reporter, anti-feminist children’s book author, and political cartoonist.
Rion’s show, which takes Giuliani and his allies at their word that Trump did nothing wrong by pressuring the Ukrainian government to investigate Biden and his family, has become a key part of Giuliani’s attempt to rally Trump’s base. But Rion herself has a colorful background that includes one prominent retracted story and support for several conspiracy theories.
In October, Rion claimed that former FBI lawyer Lisa Page had an affair with former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Rion’s vaguely sourced report went viral in corners of the right-wing blogosphere that has become obsessed with Page’s sex life and her connection to the investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia. But Rion’s network quietly retracted the entire story later that month.
Rion didn’t respond to a request for comment from The Daily Beast.
Before joining OAN in May, Rion developed some level of notoriety on the internet for her bizarre political cartoons, in a self-published set of online cartoons dubbed “The Left Edge.” In one, Rion promoted the conspiracy theory that Clinton was behind the unsolved murder of DNC staffer Rich, which police have concluded was a botched robbery. In another, she referenced “spirit cooking”—the baseless claim, popular with believers in the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, that top Democratic officials are involved in Satanic cannibalistic sacrifices.
Not all of Rion’s cartoons promote conspiracy theories, but many of them are still strange. In one, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), dressed as an alien, comes to Earth to criticize then-FBI Director James Comey. Reid is depicted as arriving in a UFO inexplicably labeled “Planet Zoombo.” In another, she called on “armed citizens to defend America from violent left,” claiming without evidence that Democrats were plotting assassinations.
In one cartoon, Rion portrays the Academy Awards’ Oscar statue as a woman named “Oscareena.”
“He claims his name is Oscareena and he wants the keys to the little girls’ peek-a-boo room,” one character in the cartoon says.
Rion’s website claims that she has “become known as the best political illustrator in the country for constitutional conservative and anti-leftist causes,” but it’s not clear that her “Left Edge” cartoons have circulated much on the broader right. Another website operated by her fiancé claimed that people all over the world are wearing T-shirts and putting up posters of her art. Rion didn’t respond to a request for proof of that claim.
Rion has also made some interesting assertions about her background. In a biography posted on her website, Rion claims that her family left the U.S. in disgust after Bill Clinton beat Bob Dole in the 1996 presidential race, setting out to see for themselves “what a debauched idea socialism was.”
After describing a stay in South Korea “a few miles” from the demilitarized zone on the border with North Korea, Rion takes her narrative to France, where she finds herself in a classroom with “presumably communistic” fellow students. Rion’s bio page claims that her family initially lived in a mill but left when “the miller quit.”
“When winter came,” the biography reads, “the miller quit and we moved to an unheated stone maison in the hills of a communist farming village in the mountain region of France where we bought goat cheese and baguettes every day from a monastery on the way home from school and where dad again swore we were never returning to the U.S. Chanel spent her first-grade year not speaking English at school where she heard not a word about politics from her presumably communistic first-grade French classmates.”
Since then, Rion claims to have produced a series of mystery books called Mystery by Design, meant for “traditional girls,” that have been “offered as language trainers in grim and dedicated rote English-learning venues including China and South Korea.” On her website, Rion writes that her books stand “apart from the gender-hostile, Hollywood ‘rip and hate’ spirit of radical feminism.”
A Wonkette investigation of Rion’s claims about her books in 2018 turned up no reference to the books outside Rion’s own website and no evidence anywhere that the books are for sale or actually exist. Rion didn’t respond to a request for comment about her books.
Rion shot to some level of broader fame on the internet in 2018 after her fiancé, then-Missouri Senate candidate Courtland Sykes, cited her cooking him dinner every night at 6 p.m. in a bizarre rant about feminist “she devils.”
“I want to come home to a home-cooked dinner at 6 every night, one that she fixes and one that I expect one day to have daughters learn to fix after they become traditional homemakers and family wives,” Sykes said in a statement.
Sykes, who had been a Missouri resident for less than a year before he launched his bid, struggled to explain his connection to the state. At one point, he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that his family had vacationed in the Ozarks, then refused to say exactly where.
Sykes went on to badly lose the primary to future Sen. Josh Hawley (R), coming in eighth place with about 2 percent of the vote.