A definitive statement from the heads of multiple government agencies – no evidence has been found to back up Donald Trump’s claims that the Obama administration wiretapped Trump Tower during the presidential campaign.
- Intelligence community confirms under oath that no evidence has been found to substantiate Trump’s wire tapping claims.
- No evidence to support the allegation that British intelligence officials had a hand in wiretapping.
- FBI did confirm that they are investigating Trump and his team’s potential ties to Russia.
Trump’s March 4 tweet claimed he was the target of Obama administration wiretapping and said, “Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory.” Since this assertion the President has reinforced his nonsensical claim several times leaving White House officials scrambling to make excuses for him.
Are we living in reality any more? This is not about politics. The president, essentially, forced the government and congress to investigate a fake news report on wire tapping by the former president.
And then, when the allegations are proven to be false beyond a reasonable doubt, the president does not apologize, but accuses the head of the FBI of lying about other parts of his testimony to distract from the main story. And the half of the country that supports this president will only read information that defends the false allegation and ignore all of the reporting showing the president to be wrong.
How long can this be sustained?
Officials continued to demand an investigation, so they got one. Neither the FBI, the NSA, nor the Department of Justice could substantiate Trump’s claims – according to testimony during a House Intelligence Committee hearing Monday.
“The FBI and the Department of Justice have no information to support those tweets,” FBI Director James Comey said.
National Security Agency head and Navy Adm. Mike Rogers also said he has no evidence that the NSA was involved in any wiretapping. “I have seen nothing on the NSA side that we engaged in any such activity nor that anyone ever asked us to engage in such activity,” Rogers told the committee.
Furthermore, claims suggesting that British intelligence officials had a hand in any wiretapping via their GCHQ agency also have no evidence to support them.
It was also confirmed that it is not possible for a president to unilaterally order a wiretap of any individual as the FBI must initiate a request for a wiretap warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. From there, Department of Justice attorneys must then present that request to a court for approval.
Investigating ties to Russia
After weeks of speculation, Comey testified before Congress that the agency is investigating allegations the Russian government interfered with the 2016 election.
“That includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts,” Comey said. “As with any counter investigation, there will also be an assessment of whether any crimes were committed.”
This is unusual behaviour for the FBI, as they usually do not comment on the existence of on-going investigations. But in this case the Department of Justice gave Comey permission to take this “extraordinary step” and disclose the investigation.
However, during his initial address, Comey declined to give any more information, “We need to protect people’s privacy, we need to make sure we don’t give other people clues as to where we’re going, we need to make sure that we don’t give information to our foreign adversaries,” he said.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a ranking member of the intelligence committee, said that the American people could never know for sure if the Kremlin’s interference swung the election in Trump’s favour. “What does matter is this: The Russians successfully meddled in our democracy and our intelligence agencies have concluded they will do so again,” he said.
Comey called the Russians’ interference into the U.S. election “unusually loud,” while Rogers said that they’d never seen people’s information being published on such a scale before.
“It’s almost as if they didn’t care that we knew,” Comey said, adding, “Their number one mission is to undermine the credibility of the entire democracy enterprise. Of this nation. Their loudness in a way would be counting on us to amplify… and freaking people out.”
“They’ll be back,” he said. “They’ll be back in 2020; they may be back in 2018.”
Trump and his team have been unable to escape questions about their ties to Russia for months. The president has always dismissed them as “fake news” – but now this claim is much harder given the FBI confirmed their investigation. Nevertheless, Trump did cry ‘fake news’ on twitter once more after the hearing.
James Clapper and others stated that there is no evidence Potus colluded with Russia. This story is FAKE NEWS and everyone knows it!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 20, 2017
Ironically neglecting his own fake news regarding the wire taps.
“There’s a smell of treason in the air,” presidential historian Douglas Brinkley said. “Imagine if J. Edgar Hoover or any other FBI director would have testified against a sitting president? It would have been a mind-boggling event.”
Furthermore, Trump is slipping in the polls. Already lower than Obama’s worst ever rating, Gallup’s tracking poll as of Sunday showed that just 39 percent of Americans approve of Trump’s job performance, with 55 percent disapproving. But of course the polls are fake news too:
Just heard Fake News CNN is doing polls again despite the fact that their election polls were a WAY OFF disaster. Much higher ratings at Fox
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 20, 2017
This saga will surely only further damage the president’s credibility not only with voters but with lawmakers within the Republican party, whose help he needs to pass his wildly unpopular healthcare bill.
“I think we’re going to test the outer limits of the Trump ‘fake news’ cult,” said Rick Wilson, a Republican strategist. “The central contention that Barack Obama wiretapped Donald Trump in Trump Tower was blown out of the water and utterly dismissed.”
Today the Democrats came prepared, in particular Congressman Adam Schiff and Congresswoman Terri Sewell. Schiff laid out a case that would have impressed any prosecutor, and FBI Director Comey confirmed that in fact his agency is investigating coordination or collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
There are already serious casualties like Michael Flynn and Jeff Sessions, and deeply problematic characters like Roger Stone, Carter Page and Paul Manafort. These hearings, though only for one day, will give the American people confidence that officials will get to the bottom of what was going on, and hope for the federal government and country.
Given that both Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers yet again exonerated President Obama from Trump’s slander and given that Comey confirmed the investigation, will the GOP do their job and hold this president accountable?
And if they don’t, will voters finally hold the GOP accountable this year and in 2018 for their obstruction and defence of what looks increasingly like treasonous behaviour, as well as to punish their tireless work on behalf of Wall Street and global corporations?
This is beyond a Greek tragedy at this point. Not even Sophocles could have written this level of hubris among so many characters. I’m not even sure Shakespeare could have written a character this appallingly pitiful. And the worst part of it all is that Trump isn’t the only character in this farce. What has happened to the United States?
It is abundantly clear that a special prosecutor or commission has to be appointed to thoroughly get to the bottom of this. The committee is trying to deflect on the bigger and real issue of Russian involvement in the US election and democracy by changing the narrative to leaks.