DOJ Stalls for Time in Trump’s Wiretapping Slander of Obama
Yesterday, was put up or shut up day. Congress demanded that Trump either show proof Obama personally wiretapped Trump Tower or drop it.
“And McCain wonders why Trump doesn’t simply release the evidence:
“The president of the Unites States could clear this up in a minute,” McCain said. “All he has to do is pick up the phone, call the director of the CIA, director of National Intelligence and say, ‘OK, what happened?’ Because they certainly should know whether the former president of the United States was wiretapping Trump Tower.”
Indeed, if Trump had obtained wiretapping information from his own intelligence sources, he would have the authority to declassify the material and substantiate his claims.
“It looks as if the president just for a moment forgot that he was president,” former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden said last week on Fox News. “Why didn’t he simply use the powers of the presidency to ask the acting director of national intelligence, the head of the FBI, to confirm or deny the story he apparently read from Breitbart the evening before?”
So Trump knows not his own presidential superpowers.
So yesterday came and went. Trump neither provided any evidence nor admitted he’s a liar and apologized for slandering President Obama. This is not the first time he’s slandered Obama and refused to apologize: he entered our politics through the birther door.
Sean Spicer seems to think Trump was joking about that whole ‘Obama wiretapped Trump Tower’ claim. Of course, Trump knows that didn’t happen.
“White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday that President Donald Trump “doesn’t really think” that Barack Obama “tapped his phone personally,” seeming to walk back Trump’s explosive and unsubstantiated claim that his predecessor ordered an illegal wiretap of Trump Tower.”
“He doesn’t really think that President Obama went up and tapped his phone personally,” Spicer told reporters at the afternoon press briefing.
“Spicer tried to argue that Trump had accused the Obama administration of general “surveillance” activities, and not a literal wiretap, even though Trump himself had use the term “wire tapping” in one of several tweets making the claim without evidence on March 4. Spicer claimed that the fact that Trump put quotation marks around the words “wire tapping” in one tweet was proof that he was not speaking literally.”
Oh, we’re back to ‘Take him seriously not literally.’ You certainly can’t take him literally when he said ‘Healthcare for everybody’ and ‘I’m the one Republican who won’t let people die in the streets.’
Meanwhile, the DOJ is stalling:
“The Justice Department is asking the House Intelligence Committee for more time to respond to a request intended to clear up President Donald Trump’s claim that President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower in the run-up to the 2016 election.”
“The intelligence panel had asked the department to respond by Monday to a request for information on possible surveillance on Trump or his campaign aides.”
“This afternoon, the Department of Justice placed calls to representatives of the Chairman and Ranking Member of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to ask for additional time to review the request in compliance with the governing legal authorities and to determine what if any responsive documents may exist,” a Justice Department spokeswoman, Sarah Isgur Flores, said in a statement Monday evening.”
So what’s really going on? Did Trump just react without thinking in reaction to a Breitbart article? Max Boot suggests there may be more to it than that. His wild accusations are the signs of a desperate man who knows the Feds are closing in on him.
“Immediately before and after his well-received speech to a joint session of Congress on Feb. 28, President Trump curtailed his use of Twitter. “For precisely four days, eight hours and five minutes, Trump refrained from tweeting anything inflammatory,” the Washington Post noted. “That’s 6,245 consecutive minutes!”
“That self-restraint began to break down on the evening of March 2, just two days after his big speech, when Trump accused Democrats of having “lost their grip on reality” and engaging in a “total ‘witch hunt.’”
“Just before 1 p.m. the next day, he tweeted a picture of Vladimir Putin and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) having coffee and donuts, lifted directly from the Drudge Report, accompanied by the mock demand for “an immediate investigation into @SenSchumer and his ties to Russia and Putin. A total hypocrite!”
“Then a few hours later came a picture of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in 2010 underneath the caption: “I hereby demand a second investigation, after Schumer, of Pelosi for her close ties to Russia, and lying about it.” (It took the president with the “very good brain” three tries to spell “hereby”correctly, having first tried “hear by” and “hearby.”)
“The presumption behind those tweets was that there was some kind of ethical or legal equivalence between the public meetings that Democratic lawmakers held with Russian leaders and the lies — in Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s case under oath — that Trump aides told about their own private meetings with Russian representatives while Putin was intervening in the presidential election to help Trump. This notion can only be credible to the most purblind Trump partisans — the same people who would take seriously Trump’s even more sensational allegations, soon to come.”
Indeed, that was an absurd level of false equivalence. These were public meetings-and also way in the past. Pelosi from 2010, Schumer from 2003. Pelosi once time seven years ago was in the same room as the Russian envoy. Michael Flynn talks to him five times a day.
“At 6:35 a.m. on Saturday, March 4, the president of the United States tweeted from his weekend getaway, Mar-a-Lago: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”
“A few minutes later: “Is it legal for a sitting President to be ‘wire tapping’ a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!” Followed by: “How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!” (“Tapp”? “Hearby”? Doesn’t Trump’s phone have a spell-checker?)”
“Having supposedly uncovered a scandal comparable to Watergate, what did the president do next? He took a respite from Twitter for more than an hour, until 8:19 a.m., when he sent out an insult against the actor who replaced him on The Celebrity Apprentice: “Arnold Schwarzenegger isn’t voluntarily leaving the Apprentice, he was fired by his bad (pathetic) ratings, not by me. Sad end to great show.” (So much for Trump’s premature claim to Congress on Tuesday night that the “time for trivial fights is behind us.”) And then he headed out for a nice round of golf.”
“It was left to Trump’s aides, the news media, and members of Congress to answer the “Huh??? What???” questions. Had Trump actually gotten his hands on classified information that the FBI had wiretapped him during the Obama administration?”
Nope. He was reading Breitbart.
“There are only two ways this could have occurred: Either the FBI had presented a court with evidence that Trump was engaged in criminal activity or was an agent of a foreign power, or Obama had ordered an illegal wiretap. Either conclusion would be scandalous. But after a frantic weekend of fact-checking, no evidence whatsoever was presented by the White House to support Trump’s allegations, which were denied by everyone from Obama’s spokesman to James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, and FBI Director James Comey.”
“One would be tempted to say that the president’s reliance on “alternative facts” to smear his predecessor is the real scandal here were it not for the fact that an actual, honest-to-goodness scandal — one that may conceivably rival Watergate — is at the bottom of this ruckus.”
“Why, after all, did Trump have a midweek meltdown that dashed pundits’ hopes that he would act in more sober fashion? The answer is as obvious as it is significant: On the evening of March 1, the day after his lauded speech, major new revelations emerged about the mysterious links between the Trump camp and the Kremlin.”
Boot argues that it was the recusal of Jeff Sessions that truly unhinged Trump:
“But why would Sessions’ recusal make Trump so unhinged? The president must have felt relatively confident that the “Kremlingate” probe would go nowhere as long as it was in the hands of Trump partisans such as Sessions, Rep. Devin Nunes of the House Intelligence Committee, and Sen. Richard Burr of the Senate Intelligence Committee. But with Sessions out of the picture, the way is now clear for the deputy attorney general — either the current placeholder, career Justice Department attorney Dana Boente, or Trump’s nominee to replace him, Rod Rosenstein, another career government lawyer — to appoint a special counsel because of the “extraordinary circumstances” surrounding this case.”
“There is a good reason why Trump and his partisans are so apoplectic about the prospect of a special counsel, and it is precisely why it is imperative to appoint one: because otherwise we will never know the full story of the Kremlin’s tampering with our elections and of the Kremlin’s connections with the president of the United States. As evidenced by his desperate attempts to change the subject, Trump appears petrified of what such a probe would reveal. Wonder why?”
Indeed. Trump never acts like an innocent person. If you’re innocent facts are your friends. Trump doesn’t like facts or use them.
Parenthetically, I’d like to see an Independent Counsel rather than a Special Counsel, ideally. Also we should have a full Joint Select Committee. But until the Democrats take over Congress, we’ll only get so much.
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