Trump Claims Obama Wiretaps Him and Calls For Probe
Which is pretty unnecessary considering he could clear this up with one executive action....
Amidst the scandal and conflict that is coming from the Trump administration, it seems apparent that the President is either grasping at straws or, at the very best, trying to make a mountain out of a molehill.
Early Saturday, the President tweeted claims that then former President Obama ordered surveillance via wiretapped phones of Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign. The unfounded claim sent a ripple through the media and the public as it would be the one of the most serious claims levied against a President ever, and if found to be true, one of the greatest scandals in political history. The claim comes from conservative radio host, Mark Levin, and was run as a headline on Brietbart news, the news site formally run by President Trump's current Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon.
While many believe the claim to be false and an obvious product of the President’s steady diet of conservative media, the outlets reporting this claim point to a FISA warrant request as the basis for the reports. Essentially, where the reports from Breibart and Levine start to become sketchy, is in the information that was released regarding other reports of the FISA warrant being granted. The Brietbart article references TheHeat article in stating that the FISA warrant was turned down in June because it was too broad and then was granted by the FISC court in October. This is where the verifiable evidence pretty much stops. The claims TheHeat outlet made appear to be based off of reports from both the BBC and The Guardian, both outlets with notable British ties. Where Brietbart and others go further is to why, how, and whom was implicated in this warrant.
What is This Warrant For?
The warrant’s purpose was reportedly designed for the purpose of investigating irregular communication between foreign entities and the United states, particularly communication relating to financial ties. If proven, each transfer from the United States to Russia could be charged as a felony. While reports suggest that three Trump associates may be implicated and subject to inquiry, nothing is present that would have pointed to a direct surveillance. Furthermore, Trump’s claim that he and Trump Tower were wiretapped is also a far-out claim because no report, including the one Breibart cited, points to any surveillance actions taken by any intelligence agency, let alone the specific method of wiretapping.
Trump’s claim is also outrageous due to the fact that he directly accuses former President Barack Obama of spying on him. This is outlandish for two specific reasons. Firstly, the law states that the President is not legally allowed to order the surveillance of any individual citizens (although critics have come out stating that the NSA surveillance program pretty much violates this law with every single American citizen). Nevertheless if what Trump claims is true, Barack Obama would definitely be up for jail time. What’s also crazy is that even based off of the limited reports about the FISA warrant, it is still unclear who gave the order in the first place. Even then, former DNI Director, James Clapper, who would have known about the court order, gave an 'on-the-record' denial regarding Trump’s claims.
And to top it all off, the White House has called on Congress to investigate the President's claim. Although FBI director James Comey urged Congress not to use resources to investigate this claim, they are likely to launch a full review. What is interesting about this claim is that no investigation is required if the President wants to get to the bottom of this. In fact, he could clear this whole Russia mess up right now if he wanted to.
The Proof is in the Pudding...
According to the intercept, all President Trump would need to do is declassify whatever surveillance records between his associates and Russia. If he and his associates did nothing wrong, then the administration has every incentive and should do so ASAP. This is unlikely considering the Trump administration's lack of transparency when it comes to communication with Russians, as evidenced by the situation with former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The Washington post also cleverly pointed out he irony of Trump's bold claim using reports that draw from anonymous sources while also noting his strong criticisms of media outlets that report negative stories about him using anonymous leaks.