These are amazing times in which we live. The government is basically at war with itself. There are battles between the current and former administration, battles between different government agencies, and battles between the usual partisans on both sides. In what appears to be a move aimed at countering the constant dribble over the “Russia helped Trump” partisan hunt, the President tweeted on Saturday that he had acquire knowledge that the prior administration, perhaps approved by President Obama, had bugged Trump tower back in October of last year, just days before the crucial Presidential vote in November.

The Washington Examiner reports:

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said President Trump may have access to information backing up his claim that President Obama asked for a court order to tap phones in Trump Tower.

Conway said on Fox News Monday that, as president, Trump has access to information that others don’t, and that might be a reason why he decided to tweet accusations at Obama for wire taps at Trump Tower. The president and his administration have not provided any evidence for those claims, which have been denied by Obama.

“He’s the president of the United States, he has information and intelligence that the rest of us do not,” she said on Fox News.

That may be true, but Trump’s statement is pretty bold, and will need some backing of fact, or at least the appearance of some circumstantial evidence to merit such a claim.

Andrew McCarthy, a conservative writer at National Review, tries to provide some of the evidence that Trump hasn’t shared:

To summarize, reporting indicates that, prior to June 2016, the Obama Justice Department and FBI considered a criminal investigation of Trump associates, and perhaps Trump himself, based on concerns about connections to Russian financial institutions. Preliminary poking around indicated that there was nothing criminal involved. Rather than shut the case down, though, the Obama Justice Department converted it into a national-security investigation under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). FISA allows the government, if it gets court permission, to conduct electronic surveillance (which could include wiretapping, monitoring of e-mail, and the like) against those it alleges are “agents of a foreign power.” FISA applications and the evidence garnered from them are classified – i.e., we would not know about any of this unless someone had leaked classified information to the media, a felony.

In June, the Obama Justice Department submitted an application that apparently “named” Trump in addition to some of his associates. As I have stressed, it is unclear whether “named” in this context indicates that Trump himself was cited as a person the Justice Department was alleging was a Russian agent whom it wanted to surveil. It could instead mean that Trump’s name was merely mentioned in an application that sought to conduct surveillance on other alleged Russian agents. President Trump’s tweets on Saturday claimed that “President Obama . . . tapp[ed] my phones[,]” which makes it more likely that Trump was targeted for surveillance, rather than merely mentioned in the application.

In any event, the FISA court reportedly turned down the Obama Justice Department’s request, which is notable: The FISA court is notoriously solicitous of government requests to conduct national-security surveillance (although, as I’ve noted over the years, the claim by many that it is a rubber-stamp is overblown). Not taking no for an answer, the Obama Justice Department evidently returned to the FISA court in October 2016, the critical final weeks of the presidential campaign. This time, the Justice Department submitted a narrowly tailored application that did not mention Trump. The court apparently granted it, authorizing surveillance of some Trump associates. [Emphasis added]

If the last emphasized statement is true, it would backup Trump’s claim that the Justice Department, under President Obama, was in fact spying on Trump associates, and perhaps indirectly on Donald Trump himself. I can’t imagine that Trump would level such allegations without something to backup his claims, but, this is Donald Trump we’re talking about so anything is possible.

Here are the tweets that set things in motion on Saturday:

Senator Chuck Schumer sees the wiretap claim as a diversion, and Democrats are thinking they have some serious scandal on their hands to exploit, from The Hill:

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday raised questions about President Trump’s claims that former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower before the election.

In an interview on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” Schumer said Obama has “flatly denied that he has done this.”

“And either way, Chuck, the president’s in trouble. If he falsely spread this kind of misinformation, that is so wrong,” Schumer said.

“It’s beneath the dignity of the presidency. It is something that really hurts people’s view of government.”

Schumer said if this is the case, it shows the president doesn’t know how to “conduct himself.”

“On the other hand, if it’s true, it’s even worse for the president,” Schumer said.

“Because that means that a federal judge, independently elected, has found probable cause that the president, or people on his staff, have probable cause to have broken the law or to have interacted with a foreign agent.”

Schumer called that possibility “serious stuff.”

And to think, it’s only Monday of a new week. By Friday I’m sure we’ll have an entirely new set of Trump/Obama scandals to discuss.

Update

The Weekly Standard now reports that the White House admitted it has no idea if Trump’s allegations over Obama’s wiretaps are true:

White House sources acknowledge that Trump had no idea whether the claims he was making were true when he made them. He was basing his claims on media reports—some of them months old—about the possibility that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court may have authorized surveillance of Trump associates, presumably pursuant to a federal investigation of their ties to Russia.

Later Saturday morning, White House Counsel Don McGahn told staffers to avoid discussions about the president’s tweets or any possible investigation—an order that effectively paralyzed the White House staff for much of the day. Staffers were afraid to talk to one another for fear of running afoul of McGahn’s guidance and even those authorized to talk to the media were nervous about doing so.

Still developing…

17 COMMENTS

  1. We’ve got two falsehoods making matters worse.

    Regarding the Russian involvement, even Trump’s people acknowledge that Russia was involved. The falsehood is that it was to help Trump. It was actually just to undermine Hillary. There’s a big difference.

    Second, even Trump’s people acknowledge Russia was meddling in our election, and it’s something that should have been and should be investigated. Certainly, our spies should be watching their spies. The falsehood is that Obama was somehow involved, personally, or that it was against Trump. There’s a big difference.

    • What makes you think that it was against Hillery, and not for Trump? If the Russians have any compromising information about Trump, be it salacious or financial, it could give them a US President very susceptable to blackmail. Especially someone like Trump who has shown that if the choice is to compromise US interests or to compromise his self image, he will sell the country, and cheaply to cover the slightest flaw in his self esteem.
      Putin has shown himself to embrace Soviet style expansion. A puppet in the office of President of their greatest antagonist would indeed be a prize for Putin.

      • An interview with a journalist in Russia. He pointed out that Putin felt that Bill Clinton had taken advantage of the drunken Yeltzin, including expanding NATO to include former Soviet Bloc countries.. Then, at the Arab Spring, there were demonstrations in Russia. Putin thinks Hillary encouraged, or even staged them. Then, after his election, Hillary was vocal in her criticism of the “rigged” election–so he wanted to make our election look “rigged,” and the gift of paranoid Trump fell into his lap.

        Personally, I don’t think there was any kind of conspiracy between Trump people and Russia. The Russians were SURE that Hillary would win, so there was no reason to release any info on Trump. It is possible they have something, and can now use it to blackmail him. That has to be part of the investigation.

        Now that Trump has said Putin should give back Crimea, the bromance has cooled.

        • I should rephrase, my point was not that the Russians did not intend to damage Hillery, I am aware that there was and is plenty of Russian animosity for the Clinton’s. I am sure that the intent to damage her candidacy was concern number 1. That said, I think that you are giving Trump and his people a little too much of a pass. From at least the time that Manafort appeared and took over the campaign there were rumors of Russian connections. I think that Trump got rid of ? Manafort to quiet some of those rumors. Then the rumors persisted and voila, near the end there is Manafort again, just like he never really left. Then there was Flynn, and Sessions, now Bannon, and Kuschner, all met with the Russians, all denied the meetings.
          As you say, all of this needs to be investigated, and the ability to investigate and get to the bottom of tangled webs such as this has proven to be one of the greatest strengths of our “checks and balances” system. Witness Watergate, if you need an example.
          Sparking of Watergate, I hope the investigations get quick results as I don’t think Mr Trump is in this for the long haul. I can see impeachment, I can see resignation, I can see mental breakdown, but I can’t see right years, or even four. If he manages to get past six months, I would guess two years would be about tops.
          My money is on <6.

          • I think the proof that Trump was not involved with any Russian connection is that he would not be stupid enough to gush about how wonderful Vladimir is, if there were dirty dealings.

            As for checks and balances, the majority party decides investigations. The only reason there’s a chance of investigations is that many Republicans hate Russia more than they like Trump.

            • Would you care to review Trump’s tweets, his public statements, and his actions since taking office and decide whether or not you really want to follow up the word Trump with the words ” not stupid enough”?
              And the majority party does indeed decide the investigations, for the most part, but the majority party wants to remain the majority, and even those as partisan and truly deplorable as Chafetz and dimwitted Gowdi will only go so low. I think Mr Trump is headed for depths that Mr Nixon never saw in his worst nightmares. As I said, my money is on<6 months.

  2. Trump’s insane twitter ramblings arent “Trump/Obama scandals” – they’re just Trump being Trump. It’s got nothing to do with Obama. Trump doesn’t know how to be an adult, much less President. When you give a platform to a mentally ill toddler, this is what happens.

  3. Anytime Drumpf is trowing a bone at the crowd, I cannot help wondering what is going on behind our backs. What is he or are his cronies trying to distract us from?

  4. Fact is : no sitting president can order a wiretap on anyone.

    Trump is a grifter, very reminniscent of Richard Nixon, in sharing a willingness to go to any length to destroy his opposition. Trump uses lying and cheating without remorse. It is a big part of his daily routine. And if he is really unhinged, Trump tweets and tweets and tweets until past daybreak. Tweets are Trump’s escape route. He doesn’t have to look anyone in the eyes while he lies and insinuates outrages charges. It’s Trump’s Kangaroo Court.

    Sad that Trump has no self dignity or self respect. Trump is being drown in the “swamp” he created.

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