Something tells me that whatever entertainment value this incident might have in the form of Trump’s very blunt manner in bringing attention upon it, it’s going to be cancelled out very soon by the seriousness of the allegation.
It should be acknowledged that there may have been a very legitimate reason why the Justice Department might have sought and obtained a wiretap in Trump’s office during the campaign that had nothing to do with the election.
I’d certainly like to believe that, but it’s sort of problematic that Democrats have been telling me that every single contact between Trump’s campaign team and any Russian official was automatically some sort of the grand conspiracy to trick the DNC into throwing the election to Clinton and then giving their email password to hackers.
I do try to be fair, but if we can say that certain circumstances have bad optics when Trump’s guys are doing it, then we can also acknowledge that they also look bad when its being done to them.
Team Obama has denied that Obama directed or authorized any wiretaps against Trump, but I haven’t seen that any of them have denied that there were any wiretaps. That’s a meaningful distinction and it means that Trump is telling the truth in his latest Tweetstorm and that Obama’s people are telling the truth in their denials, but both parties are still misrepresenting the truth, as is expected of them. If this version is correct, Trump is exaggerating the circumstances and incorrectly blaming Obama while Obama’s people are downplaying the significance of their Administration having been spying on the opposing party’s candidate.
It’s a big deal, either way, whether Trump just falsely accused his predecessor of this or truthfully did….holy fuck. It’s also really bad either way.
My view is that this looks bad for the Obama Administration no matter how you want to explain it. We have already seen the damage that Obama holdovers in Justice and the intelligence agencies have been able to do. Even if the reason for the wiretap was fully legitimate, I do not trust the bureaucrats within those organizations at all, and certainly not enough to believe they would not have leaked information to the Clinton campaign, the press, or anyone else.
I say this because they keep demonstrating over and over again that they are not only willing to release confidential information to further their political ends, but they’re eager to do it and even seem to believe it is their responsibility. I don’t trust them and neither should Trump and their own conduct is the reason why.
Trump’s tantrum is justified.
UPDATE: A respected reader asked me in the comments why I do not assign much credibility to the whole Russian Narrative or whatever you want to call it. My response is below and slightly edited to correct some of the typos and clarify things.
Under normal circumstances (which the 2016 election and everything related to it and everything that has happened since was assuredly not), I would say that all of the red flags about supposedly secret dealings between a campaign team and an adversarial foreign government are highly suspicious and probable that something was there. I’m not blind and I generally tilt toward believing that where there’s smoke, there’s fire. As it is, I do not find the Russia stuff fishy, at least not for the same reasons or even in the same way you might.
The Wikileaks scandals during the election shook the Democratic Party very, very deeply. They were already trying to minimize the effect of Clinton’s FBI investigation for her personal email on her favorability ratings when the DNC emails hit.
What was in the DNC emails about how the DNC has colluded with the media and major party players to elevate Clinton over Sanders was utterly devastating. Some Democrats mixed up in it tried claiming that the emails were fake (Donna Brazile is still trying to convince people of it), but it didn’t work. Say what you want about Wikileaks, Assange, or who might secretly run Wikileaks, Wikileaks does have an unblemished record of accuracy.
Since Democrats couldn’t ignore the problem (they had betrayed their own voters and party and were facing a shit storm) and couldn’t disprove what was in the emails, they decided the next best thing was to attack the source. So they pointed to the preponderance of evidence that showed that Russian hackers who were associated directly with the Russian government did it. They’ve been on that track ever since.
“Russians did it” went from damage control after the DNC Convention to an attack against Trump sometime later in the campaign and is still going on because it’s the best they have, as I see it.
There are, however, two key weaknesses with this line of attack:
- They can’t prove that the motive of the hackers or of Wikileaks was to throw the election to Donald Trump. They can speculate about it, and they have been, but where’s the proof?
- They don’t have any proof that the Trump campaign cooperated with the Russians on either the hacking or the release of the information to affect the campaign.
EVERYTHING you have been hearing about with regard to meetings between Flynn or Sessions or whoever and Russian officials is to try to build up the theory that (2) is there and it just hasn’t turned up yet. The intel people who are leaking this information are trying to build that perception, but their problem is that they have not successfully proven it. They haven’t produced even a shred of evidence that there was any coordination, just some meetings and phone calls. The existence of the meetings and phone calls isn’t unusual either, on its face. It’s normal for foreign officials to seek out campaign surrogates to advance their interests. I think Sessions said that the Russian ambassador wanted to justify the case for Russia’s intervention in Ukraine when they spoke at the RNC Convention. It seems Sessions brushed him off, from his version of events.
Trump, I think, is throwing this out there now so he can say “Look, my campaign was wiretapped so they could find evidence that I or my campaign was working with Putin. You know what they found? NOTHING.”
It’s true. They found nothing. As I said above, Flynn isn’t going to be charged with anything, nor is Sessions.
Now IF anyone digs up any evidence that anyone from the Trump campaign was coordinating with the Russians on either the hacks or the releases, I’ll question what I said. However, my own inherent bias says that the Russian accusations started as a deflection and now they’re a distraction. If there were really anything there, I would think a wiretap would have revealed it.
My take, now that I’ve had some time to digest this, is that Trump is being brilliant. He’s getting everyone on Earth to focus on the fact that his campaign was wiretapped by the Obama Administration to prove that he was in bed with the Russians and yet no proof of it surfaced from the investigation, even though the Obama DOJ presumably did everything it could.
This is going to kill the Russian Narrative, guys.