Monday, March 6, 2017

Donald Trump Accuses President Obama of Wire-Tapping

On February 28, when the US president addressed Congress, in an unusual departure since the inauguration, he did not rant, insult anybody, rabble rouse, whip up fear, or blather on about himself and his vast [self alleged] achievements. Mike Pence and Paul Ryan stood behind him looking like schmaltzy proud parents.

A portion of the media world went nuts with emotional pronouncements of Trump finally behaving like a president, hailing the speech as a game-changing pivot. Even CNN lost the plot for a bit. There was a touch of hysteria to it, reminiscent of a bi-polar high. Perhaps relief. Was the end of the madness in sight? For the record, Jake Tapper distanced himself from the momentary CNN aberration.

He and the more realistic among us saw the behavior for what it was: Trump reading from the teleprompter, sticking word for word to a speech that somebody else had written and that contradicted every action he's taken as president. Words are cheap and those that come out of Donald Trump's mouth wouldn't fetch enough to buy a 2c lollipop. Trevor Noah of The Daily Show also pointed out that in a pre-election rally Trump actually boasted about how easy it was for him to behave "presidentially" (see video above).

He even gave his fans a sneak preview. The act was eerily similar to his address. Bearing that in mind, the subtext to his entire speech was "You're all a bunch of gullible idiots and I'll ride this horse as far as I can."

Despite that the predicted boost to Trump's disastrous popularity ratings didn't happen, Trump floated on a cloud, basking in the glory of what he saw as the American People's love and adulation. Until the next scandal involving his administration erupted with it did on March 2. Again over the Russian connection issue, this time around Trump's good friend and ever-loyal supporter Attorney General Jeff Sessions. After a day of bluster and denials, Sessions was pressured to recuse himself from the investigations into possible links between Russia and the Trump camp.

The next thing the world knew was that Trump had tweet-accused President Barack Obama of wire-tapping his phones at Mar-a-Lago.
Predictably, no evidence accompanied the wild accusations. Because Trump got his "information" from those fountains of wisdom and truth Breitbart News and conservative radio host Mark Levin.

According to Breitbart, with zero evidence, Levin accused the Obama administration of "police state" tactics and getting authorization to eavesdrop on the Trump campaign, then continuing to monitor it even when there was no evidence of wrongdoing. Then the administration relaxed the NSA rules so that evidence [which hadn't been found] could be shared widely within the government.  

Trump tweeted a few more times on the subject before losing interest and diverting his twitty attention to another pressing state matter of tremendous importance.
This is the president of the United States. Six weeks into the presidency, with the same kind of asinine behavior being exhibited every day and on every front, and still it's hard to believe. The president of the United States!

The reason for Donald Trump's invective against Obama is not hard to trace. It has subsequently been leaked that when Sessions recused himself, the president exploded at Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus—who were with him in Florida—for not defending Sessions enough.

In a fit of rage he refused to allow them on the plane when he flew back to Washington. He already had President Obama on the brain. With his own administration in chaos and under increasing scrutiny over Russian connections, Trump recently said Russia was not the problem in the 2016 election, darkly accusing Obama of being the one who meddled by fomenting the anti-Trump protests and being behind the leaks that Sean Spicer is frantically trying to identify, to no avail.

It's all backfired spectacularly on the president. Because while he, Levin and Breitbart News couldn't provide evidence, it can be found to prove that they're all lying through their teeth. First Mike Flynn, then Jeff Sessions, now the president's strong-man and the president himself. Is anybody surprised that at some point Trump would paint himself into a corner? 

Filmmaker Rob Reiner, a powerful opponent of Trump who is very vocal on Twitter, put it perfectly:
Unfortunately, there appears to be no truth to the accusation at all. Keven Lewis, spokesperson for the only adult in the room, issued a simple denial, saying that "neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any US citizen," and that "a cardinal rule of the Obama Administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice." He didn't, however, comment on whether or not a judicial investigation was under way.

James Clapper, director of national intelligence at the time of the US election, said that he would know if a court order had been granted for wire-tapping Donald Trump. When asked point blank, he stated categorically that none had been. There are two types of wiretaps; criminal and national security (FISA). They can only be ordered by a federal judge on application by the Justice Department. A president cannot order them.

But it's caused a firestorm. Republicans are calling for "investigations" into whether President Obama illegally gave the command to wiretap Donald Trump. On the strength of a conservative Radio Host's speculation without a sniff of evidence! The media is taking it seriously too, though, unearthing the truth. And Democrats are pushing back strongly. Charles Blow, NYT columnist, also very vocal and popular as a columnist and on Twitter for his outspoken condemnation of Trump, suggested that there might be a case for suing him for libel. 

According to the New York Times, senior American officials stated that FBI Director James Comey called on the Justice Department on Sunday to publicly acknowledge that the president's heat-of-the-moment claim is false. So far there has been no response. 

The Capitol Hill and FBI investigations into the Russian connection continue apace and Democrats are increasingly calling for an independent investigation as circumstantial evidence at least piles up. This latest outburst of the president's seems to go directly back to his rage that Jeff Sessions, Trump's most loyal supporter, had to recuse himself.  Without a friend in the Justice Department, the president is perhaps feeling quite exposed now.

Even Paul Ryan, who was interviewed by Fox News on Friday, said he didn't think the Obama Administration had been surveilling members of the Trump campaign. Mike Pence has been silent, as have Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway. They've all gone to ground, as has the president. Not Saturday Night Live, though.