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:

  1.  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?
  2. 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.

24 comments

  1. So the WireTap was the FBI. Is your assessment that it was more likely that Comey was trying to leak Trump information to the Clinton campaign?

    And what’s the ‘damage’ that the leakers have done? Two lies have been exposed. Isn’t that something you want to happen? Especially if you don’t trust the Government in the first place?

  2. I’m not sure if it was a FBI wiretap. Could have been the NSA looking for counter-intelligence leads. And no, I don’t think Obama, Comey, or another official authorized a wiretap of Trump for the purpose of leaking harmful information.

    I do, however, have enormous concerns about lower officials and analysts and the like having access to that information and using it for political purposes. It’s illegal and treasonous.

    No, I have no tolerance for the leakers and don’t believe they have done any good. Flynn didn’t do anything wrong that the leakers showed us. There was no crime. He got fired because he lied to Pence. Nor did Sessions do anything illegal or improper. Even if you want to claim that he lied under oath, I’ve already explained on another post that the bar is so high for getting him on it, it’s not worth the effort. Democrats will have to be happy that they got the recusal. It’s a net gain for them, I say.

    I do distrust the government. However, this is currently the latest chapter in a feud between elected and appointed executive officials and career bureaucrats who are attempting to reverse the results of an election that they disagreed with. Believe me, this issue is tied to that one. And in that fight, I’m absolutely on the side of the elected officials.

  3. That’s definitely the perception he’s been out to establish and this reveal definitely reinforces that perception. It doesn’t look good and the perception will outlast the reality, as usual.

  4. It’s not about getting anything done to anyone exactly. Trump is doing this to cripple the Russia narrative by painting the whole show with looking into the Russia ties as an effort, possibly led by Obama himself, to damage his campaign and then his Administration for purely political purposes.

    It’s pretty amazing what turns this whole thing is taking.

  5. So there definitely was an FBI investigation – so my guess was that this was part of that. maybe it wasn’t though, you’re right.

    Either a) This was an illegal wiretap. If so, Trump should report what he knows about it, and heads should roll. or b) This was a legal wiretap, and there was probable cause from FISA of something they were looking into. Again, if this is the case, then this should be part of an investigation.

    The fact that he hasn’t done these thing, and has just tweeted about it, says to me it’s bullshit.

    OT – But are you not even a little bit worried about how many of these Russian links keep turning up? I’m anti Trump, so obviously my inherent bias is to see nefarious actions there. But as a conservative, don’t you think it’s just a little fishy?

  6. I’m going to give the Obama Administration the benefit of the doubt and say that it was (b), a legal wiretap. I simply can’t believe they’d do something so politically explosive and dangerous without even a shred of justification.

    If I’m wrong on that, “holy fuck” again, but I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt because there is definitely a paper trail associated with the wiretap order and we’re going to learn more about what led up to over time.

    For the OT issue…

    Ah, that’s worthy of a post on its own and I’m sure I’ll do one soon. However, I do want to have this conversation and this is as good a time as any for it. Anybody wants to jump in, go for it.

    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 it is 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 do.

    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 supports it, 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. (1) 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? (2) 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 effect 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 telling.

    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.

    How’s that?

  7. As I said to cress, I think Trump is making a big noise over this so he can say that Obama wiretapped him to prove that he was in bed with the Russians and still failed to find any proof of it. I don’t think Trump really believes that Obama personally ordered it for political reasons. Instead, he might be about to stifle the whole issue for good.

  8. UPDATED post with some more commentary and a new tack. Thanks, ilovecress, for getting me to expound on it.

  9. So the first half of your post is just about why the DNC is happy about this issue – which to my mind is irrelevant to the question of whether there’s any ‘there’ ‘there’.

    And I admit, there is no proof. Not a shred of evidence. But the thing I can’t get my head around is this – what is the innocent explanation of all these Russian connections. If Flynn was innocent, why lie? If Sessions was innocent, why lie? If the tax returns were innocent, why keep them secret? If there really is nothing to these allegations, Trump can make this all go away in one week by making everything public. Hell, he’d probably even take down some Democrats by doing it.

    We’re in a world where the ‘Obama is a secret muslim/where’s his birth certificate/he;s a secret gay/Benghazi was an inside job’ people are saying “It’s probably just a coincidence” – and I want to know why that is.

    (By the way, a lot of us ‘Trust the Government/Ton Fils Hats are for weirdos’ lot are writing our own spy novels now so it cuts both ways)

  10. On those questions about “why lie”, I can only speculate. The quick answer is that I think Flynn offered some things to Russia that he was in absolutely no position to give and then tried to backtrack when Pence asked him about it.

    I see Sessions as more accidental. I don’t think he viewed his talks with the ambassador as related to his campaign work. He did screw up by not disclosing it, but is it resignation-worthy? My bias says no. It will haunt him for the rest of his career, if it makes anyone feel better.

    Next, don’t take anything I say about Russia to mean that I think there is nothing relevant about the Trump Administration’s relationship with that country. There are areas where Trump and Putin’s interests intersect and I see nothing wrong with questioning why Trump is breaking from tradition by seeming to side with Putin against NATO, for example. I explained on my Sessions Messes post why I think that it is the way it is with those two, but I’ll hear anyone out who has an alternate theory.

    As for the Yesterday’s Conspiracy Theorists As Today’s Skeptics observation, I do in fact have a separate post in the pipeline that touches on that topic so I won’t touch it here. It’s a Discourses theme. Currently looking at it for Wednesday. Stay tuned!

  11. I’m to the point that if there isn’t an indictment coming soon I’m going to stop listening to the “isn’t it suspicious this happened” stories. On a personal level I can believe trump would do anything to win, and not knowing the kind of rules politics has he’d employ Putin to get the job done.

    The realist in me agrees with Grendel. So what? Nothing will ever be done about it. Bush the 43rd and the faulty weapons of mass destruction evidence only left the news and protestor signs the day he walked out of office.

  12. Both Comey and Clapper have denied that there was a wire tap. https://www.google.com/amp/www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/donald-trump-wiretap-claim-barack-obama-james-comey-fbi-justice-department-a7613091.html%3famp
    Trump is basing this tweet storm on a Breitbart article, which is the only thing I consider to be lest trustworthy than Comey, at this point.
    The way I understand it, there was a ‘tap’ on a server in Trump Tower that was transacting with Russian banks. That’s not the same as tapping Trump’s phones, but I doubt our fearless leader knows the difference.

  13. They didn’t deny that there was a wiretap. They denied that Obama directly and specifically ordered it, which is almost certainly true since it would have been illegal for him to do so. Nothing Comey has said contradicts the claim that there may have been a wiretap, only that it wasn’t Obama’s idea or doing. That’s very important for understanding his statement.

    The tap on the server was known last year, as I recall. I’m not sure if this is anything different or not that Trump is referring to. However, I am curious to know how many of the leaks we’ve been hearing about were based on information derived from any telephone wiretaps. That has yet to come out.

  14. We don’t know what Coney did or did not deny, since it’s second hand. But Clapper said “there was no wiretap against Trump Tower during the campaign conducted by any part of the National Intelligence Community.”

  15. If Clapper is telling the truth, then yeah, it was probably the FBI. The IC would have been more likely to pick up on it if they were monitoring a Russian official. The FBI would have been looking at Trump’s people.

    Point is I would need to see some evidence that Obama ordered it. If he did, once again, “holy fuck.” I say Trump knows full well that Obama didn’t, but he’s doing it as he usually does in his big showman way.

  16. I’m not sure why a NBC transcript that is posted on Breitbart would influence how much credibility I give a link, but I’ll play along.

    I see that Clapper also says that they found no evidence of collusion between the Russian government and any member of the Trump campaign, which was sure nice of him to say.

    Besides that, he only goes so far as to acknowledge that it’s possible that there could have been a wiretap, but it would be “awfully secret” and that it wasn’t directly related to a foreign intelligence case, but could have originated from Justice and been performed by the FBI as a criminal matter, as I said.

    Once again, the whole nation is waiting for Comey to act and I’m sure he’ll manage to anger absolutely everybody by the time he’s done.

    Let’s just have it clarified. Was there a wiretap in Trump Tower or not? If there was, why and who requested it? If no wiretap, then Trump needs to explain what the hell he’s talking about.

    Again, I don’t think Obama had anything to do with wiretapping Trump whether it’s found that the FBI did conduct one or not. So I’m acknowledging that Trump likely isn’t telling the truth about that. I just want to see if my argument is correct that Trump is going to be proven right that there was a wiretap and Trump is going to use that to squash all future inquiries about Russian involvement with his campaign.

    If there really was no wiretap, then my theory falls apart.

  17. This is purely anecdotal, but I’ve gone up and down my Twitter feed for the past couple of days and I see nary a mention of Russia and the Trump Administration.

    I’m going to say that the public is tuning it out based on the overwhelming evidence based on its perception that the matter was already investigated and nothing was found, as I predicted. If you agree, do you still think Trump’s tweeting is the product of a deranged mind or are you starting to think he may actually know what he’s doing when it comes to manipulating public opinion?

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