Last Saturday at 6:30 AM EST, our Twittermeister-in-Chief unleashed a storm in which he accused then-President Obama of having orchestrated a wire-tap on Trump and his surrogates in the Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign. This claim arose out of “sources” of which Trump and his spokespeople cited none!!! However, it has emerged that ahead of Trump’s Twitter rant, the claim of an Obama-inspired wire-tap was tossed out by right-wing, flame-throwing radio host, Mark Levin who offered no supporting evidence. Shortly thereafter this story was picked up by another right-wing source, Breitbart News, again without foundation.
Having succeeded in getting everyone’s attention, Trump then proceeded to demand a congressional investigation. By now, it should come as no surprise that GOP representatives fell right in line. The most notable among these servile toadies is Devin Nunes (R-CA) who chairs the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. In other words, we are witnessing yet another iteration of the “protection racket” described in this space on two previous occasions (1). Call this new one, 3.0.
In the face of this latest attempt to accommodate Trump, we have these facts: (1) the absence of any prime facie evidence means that there is no predicate for an investigation; (2) to initiate a wire-tap on an American citizen, a president would have to go through the secret FISA court to start such an enterprise; (3) had Obama done that, a “paper trail” would have been created making it a simple matter of tracing the tap back to him; (4) as president, Trump has the authority to command the release of all such documentation, something that Trump has thus far, failed to do; (5) FBI Director James Comey and former Head of the Department of National Intelligence, James Clapper, have both stated categorically, that no such tap existed. Indeed, it could not have existed without their knowledge.
The amassing of these facts, especially the absence of a predicate (see #1), makes it abundantly clear that Nunes is allowing Trump to engage in his favorite gambit; i.e. when he is the target of unfavorable news, change the subject and get the media to look elsewhere. Even worse, the congressman is providing this baseless diversion with a patina of credibility. No wonder that at recent GOP-sponsored Town Hall meetings, the people in attendance ended up chanting “Shame on you ! Shame on you!”
“Unfavorable news” indeed. Following his well-scripted speech to the joint session of Congress, Trump had every reason to expect a notable uptick in his favorability ratings. While that did happen, the afterglow has been overshadowed by more exposes of Trump’s questionable if not downright illegal business dealings with Communist oligarchs in Azerbaijan, a story that just broke in the New Yorker.
There is one sure place where the truth resides and that is in Trump’s tax returns. If and when those documents enter the public domain, the Trump presidency will be crippled if not over. That cannot happen too soon.
- See “Protection racket”; 11-30-16 and “Protection racket 2.0”, 2-17-17.
Erratum: The blog “You lost, get over it and stop whining” (3-6-17) erroneously stated that Trump had been in office “barely two months”. In fact, his tenure was five weeks. The error is mine with apologies for it.