This weekend, as GOP leadership in Congress prepared to unveil their replacement for the Affordable Care Act officially, President Trump had yet another early morning Twitter tantrum. Trump’s brief tenure in office has been marred by numerous “alternative facts,” but Trump’s Saturday morning, baseless accusation that President Obama personally ordered that Trump Tower be wiretapped leading up to the 2016 election, may be the most disconcerting yet. Trump compared the wiretapping to Watergate and targeted Obama personally, labeling him a “bad (or sick) guy.
In contrast to the gravity of Trump’s allegation, the reaction from Republican leadership seems downright blasé. In fact, most high-ranking Republicans, including Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, have flat out refused to comment on the president’s tweets. AshLee Strong, the spokeswoman for Speaker Ryan, declined to answer reporter’s questions on Trump’s tweets, steering the conversation back to the upcoming vote on the Republicans’ Obamacare replacement.
Though a few starkly different positions have emerged from Republicans brave enough to comment on Trump’s wiretapping allegation. House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes’ (R-C.A.) admonished the press for taking Trump literally. The second-ranking Republican in the Senate, John Cornyn, stated simply, “I don’t know what the basis of his statement is.” John McCain demanded the President make public the basis for the allegiance.
Democrats, on the other hand, seem to have no issue whatsoever responding to Trump’s calls for an investigation into the allegations. Indeed, Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House’s committee, accepted the responsibility of investigating Trump’s claims, gladly, “The President has asked our committee to investigate this. Mr. President, we accept.”
If Trump’s explosive allegation of President Obama is discovered to be true, it would indeed be an extraordinary criminal act. But, as Schiff pointed out, “It is also a scandal if those allegations prove to be false.”
Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) speaking to FoxNews, pointed out the matter should be relatively easy to settle, as the Trump administration now has unfettered access to the intelligence community’s records.
This latest over-the-top allegation from President Trump, without any evidence, will very likely amount to his most devastating failure to deflect. FBI Director, James Comey, has already requested the Department of Justice publicly refute Trump’s allegation.
The FBI and the NSA take surveillance requests to the Department of Justice, where they’re processed through a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA). The President doesn’t have the legal authority to wiretap. Most likely, the FBI, CIA and/or NSA intercepted suspicious conversations taking place, on a regular basis, between Russian interests and many of Trump’s staff, during the campaign, while Russia was undermining American democracy, and provided sufficient evidence of potential criminal collusion to obtain a surveillance warrant.