By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: March 6, 2017
Commander-in-Tweet Donald Trump has potentially dug a deep hole for himself. By publishing a Tweet over the weekend stating that President Obama had tapped his phones during the Presidential election campaign, Trump has simultaneously suggested that a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court (FISA court) found sufficient evidence to warrant a wiretap. (The wiretap would have been at the behest of an intelligence agency, not President Obama directly.)
Chuck Todd, host of Sunday’s Meet the Press, summed up the mess as follows on his program yesterday: “It’s such a serious allegation. I mean it is either, if it’s true, it’s an extraordinary political scandal. And if it’s not true, it’s an extraordinary political scandal.”
It should be noted that if it’s not true, it would be not so much a political scandal as it would be another in a long, long series of off-the-wall falsehoods promulgated by Trump with no negative ramification to his career – unless one considers being elevated to the highest public office in the land a negative impact. For years, Trump was a leading purveyor of the birther meme that former President Obama had no legitimacy as President because he was foreign born and not entitled to hold the office. Then, abruptly, Trump decided to renounce that position.
While there has been only glowing embers and a little smoke before on the ties between the Trump camp and Russian officials, there’s now darting flames scorching a lot of toes.
Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, was forced to admit last week that he misspoke in his Senate confirmation hearing. Sessions now concedes that he did meet with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Trump’s former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, was forced to resign after transcripts showed he had discussed Russian sanctions with Kislyak prior to Trump taking office. A new revelation concerns Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law who is married to Ivanka Trump. Both serve as advisers to the President. According to multiple media reports, Kushner was part of a meeting with Kislyak at Trump Tower in December. JD Gordon, another Trump policy adviser, met with Kislyak at the Republican National Convention last July, as did Carter Page, a Trump policy adviser and oil industry consultant.
James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence for more than six years during the Obama administration, appeared on Meet the Press yesterday. He flatly denied there had been any wiretapping of Trump. The exchange between Chuck Todd and Clapper went like this:
CHUCK TODD: “Let me start with the President’s tweets yesterday, this idea that maybe President Obama ordered an illegal wiretap of his offices. If something like that happened, would this be something you would be aware of ?”
JAMES CLAPPER: “I would certainly hope so. I can’t say– obviously, I’m not, I can’t speak officially anymore. But I will say that, for the part of the national security apparatus that I oversaw as DNI, there was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign. I can’t speak for other Title Three authorized entities in the government or a state or local entity.”
CHUCK TODD: “Yeah, I was just going to say, if the F.B.I., for instance, had a FISA court order of some sort for a surveillance, would that be information you would know or not know?”
JAMES CLAPPER: “Yes.”
CHUCK TODD: “You would be told this?”
JAMES CLAPPER: “I would know that.”
CHUCK TODD: “If there was a FISA court order…”
JAMES CLAPPER: “Yes.”
CHUCK TODD: “–on something like this.”
JAMES CLAPPER: “Something like this, absolutely.”
CHUCK TODD: “And at this point, you can’t confirm or deny whether that exists?”
JAMES CLAPPER: “I can deny it.”
CHUCK TODD: “There is no FISA court order?”
JAMES CLAPPER: “Not– not to my knowledge.”
CHUCK TODD: “Of anything at Trump Tower?”
JAMES CLAPPER: “No.”
CHUCK TODD: “Well, that’s an important revelation at this point.”
The American people are rapidly losing trust and confidence in our public institutions and government leaders in Washington. President Trump made this unprecedented accusation against a former President of the United States and his administration. Congress must now take a swift leadership role in providing reliable evidence to either confirm or refute this damning accusation.