It is almost always the cover-up rather than the event that causes trouble (Howard Baker)
All deception in the course of life is indeed nothing else but a lie reduced to practice, and falsehood passing from words into things (Robert Southey)
Stop trying to cover up the truth with your lies! You will end up regretting it when the truth comes out! Everyone will realize you lied when they see the evidence (Eric Brandi Shaffer)
I don't think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower. I don't think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower. If the White House or the president want to come out and clarify his statements more, it would probably, probably be helpful (Rep. Devin Nunes, Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee)
It deeply concerns me that the president would make such an accusation without basis. You can't level an accusation of that type without retracting it or explaining just why it was done. I think there are, from a national security perspective, great concerns if the president is willing to state things like that without any basis, because the country needs to be able to rely on him, particularly if we have a crisis (Rep. Adam Schiff, a democratic ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee)
ow, it's clear that Trump made the allegations against Obama out of the blues, as he has no evidence to support his claims. The media was the source of his allegation! Remember that Trump demanded that the Congress should investigate his claims of wiretapping, and Rep. Devin Nunes, a California Republican, who's chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said the committee will look into whether the government "was conducting surveillance activities on any political party's campaign officials or surrogates." But The AP, on March 7, wrote that Nunes said, on that day, he has not seen any evidence to back President Donald Trump's claim that the Obama administration wiretapped him during the 2016 campaign, and suggested the news media were taking the president's weekend tweets too literally. Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House panel, said on ABC's "This Week", according to Bloomberg, that he expected to see no such evidence, and suggested that none existed. He said he hopes to put the matter to rest on March 20, when FBI Director, James Comey, is scheduled to testify before the committee. In Schiff's words: "Either the president quite deliberately, for some reason, made up the charge or, perhaps more disturbing, the president really believes this".
Remember that Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican, on CNN's "State of the Union", called on the president to provide proof of his allegations about former President Barack Obama, or admit he was wrong. Hear him: "The president has one of two choices: either retract or to provide the information that the American people deserve". McCain said he had "no reason to believe that the charge is true" and that Trump could clear up the matter by asking the intelligence community for the facts. Also, Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, also said he had "not seen that evidence" of wiretapping, but he declined to call on Trump to apologize to Obama. In his words, on "Face the Nation" on CBS, according to Bloomberg: "President Trump said that he wanted the intelligence committees in the Senate and the House to take up this matter as part of our broader inquiry into Russia's activities into our political system last year. We're going to do exactly that."
Remember that Republican and Democratic lawmakers on Sunday, March 12, according to Bloomberg, said they still haven't seen evidence to support President Donald Trump's unverified claim that his predecessor tapped his phones, but they expect the facts will soon emerge. The comments came a day before Monday's deadline, set by the House Intelligence Committee, asking the Department of Justice to provide any documentary evidence relating to Trump's allegation, according to ABC News and the Associated Press.
Remember that the current and former intelligence Chiefs said that Trump wasn't wiretapped, and that a president can't even order one. The former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, who left the government in January, has said there was no wiretap activity directed at Trump or his campaign by the Obama administration. The FBI Director did ask the Justice Department to publicly refute President Trump's assertion that his predecessor, President Obama, ordered a wiretap of his phones prior to the November 2016 election. Yahoo News wrote that Comey was concerned the president's tweets -- which he believes are inaccurate -- created the impression that the FBI acted improperly, and he wanted to set the record straight. Even Aki Peritz, former CIA counter-terrorism analyst, said Mr. Obama, who is a constitutional lawyer, "would never do this" as it "could be a matter that brings down a president".
Remember that the former director of the CIA, Michael Hayden, said, on Monday, March 6, that President Trump forgot he was president, in making the claim without proof, as he could have simply demanded proof that his phones had been tapped from the intelligence community. Michael Hayden told "Fox and Friends" that "my instinct is no," President Obama did not order that Trump be wiretapped. In Hayden words: "It looks as if the President, just for a moment, forgot that he was President. 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?" Hayden concluded that Obama wouldn't have ordered the surveillance himself. In his words: "He wouldn't even be involved. You stay way back from this because of the separation of powers."
Despite all these skepticisms, President Trump and his White House refused to withdraw the allegations against president Obama. Now, they're using fire bridge approach to solve what they could have done earlier.
There's a huge disconnect between what President Trump is saying and what his aides are saying. Before Trump's Fox News interview that changed everything, Sean Spicer, his spokesman, did say that President Trump wasn't specifically accusing Obama of wiretapping; and the White House aide, Kellyanne Conway, the woman with the big mouth, also said she had no evidence to back up Donald Trump's claim that his predecessor had wiretapped him. As the NYT noted that since President Trump woke up early at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, and accused his predecessor of tapping his phones, the White House has offered a series of ever-changing responses, explanations and clarifications. What started as officials "reviewing" what the president had said, soon morphed into "I have no reason to believe" that an investigation exists, and finally became using wiretap "in quotes."
While his aides are trying to minimize the damage by saying that the president's words were not well presented, Trump himself is deepening the whole thing by committing himself the more and more. Is this man well at all? In his first interview since his unsubstantiated claim that he was wiretapped by former President Obama, President Trump said the sources of information behind his tweets were primarily news reports. The NYT wrote that on March 15, Mr. Trump himself offered a new assessment during an interview with Fox News. His suggestion that "some very interesting items" would be revealed in the next two weeks was certain to fuel the story on Capitol Hills, where members of his own party were beginning to angrily demand answers. In his words: "I think you're going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks."
The Paper continued that through it all, Mr. Trump repeated a series of misleading assertions and falsehoods, such as when he seemed simultaneously to walk back and yet double down on his accusation that President Barack Obama had wiretapped him. Trump said on Fox News:
"That really covers surveillance and many other things. Nobody ever talks about the fact that it was in quotes. I think you're going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront in the next two weeks."
Mr. Trump cited news reports as evidence for his wiretapping claims
In his words:
"I read in, I think it was January 20, a New York Times article where they were talking about wiretapping. There was an article, I think they used that exact term. I read other things. I watched your friend Bret Baier the day previous where he was talking about certain very complex sets of things happening, and wiretapping. I said, wait a minute, there's a lot of wiretapping being talked about."
First of all, it's unbelievable that Trump, who hates the media and accuses it of being "Fake News", will still rely on it for evidence to accuse his immediate predecessor of a felony, a serious crime. Wonders will never cease! The Abc News, The New York Times and the NBC News all pointed out that Trump's claim here is misleading: The reports Trump references don't back up his accusation: The New York Times story he appears to cite referred to "intercepted communications and financial transactions" between Russian officials and Trump associates, but made no mention of Trump Tower, made no mention of Obama, and said nothing about Trump or his campaign. In the case of Baier, he used the word "wiretap" while asking Speaker Paul Ryan to comment on unconfirmed reports from the site, Heat Street that referenced a possible investigation into Trump associates (which also made no mention of Obama).
While the lawmakers are saying that there's no evidence that Trump Tower was survilled, since the Justice department, the White House or Trump have not provided any, President Trump keeps on insisting that he stands by the unproven allegation that Obama ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower, that he relied on media reports for his accusation, and that he is accumulating his own evidence to present to Congress that will back up his claims. After Trump's Fox News interview, the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, on March 16, was forced to say that President Trump "stands by" allegations he made that President Barack Obama ordered a wiretap on him in 2016, even though Trump has provided no evidence for the claims, and, despite statements from the leaders of congressional investigations that no evidence had been found to support the claim. Reuters noted that Trump's allegations on Twitter - without citing any evidence - that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower last year has eaten up investigative resources in Congress and chipped away at his credibility and respect from the GOP lawmakers who would be needed to get his agenda passed. Infact, as Yahoo News puts it, Sean Spicer is the angry, lonely defense of Trump's wiretapping claim; Spicer Island grows more isolated. Look at what Trump has turned Spicer into: On March 13, Sean Spicer, White House press secretary, said that Trump was not talking literally or specifically when he accused Obama of "wiretapping" his campaign. In his words: "If you look at the president's tweet, he said wiretapping in quotes". And now Spicer is singing a new tune. What a pity?
The U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that he never gave President Trump any reason to believe the Obama administration had wiretapped Trump Tower. The heads of the Senate Intelligence Committee have seen no evidence that the Obama administration "wiretapped" Trump Tower, according to a brief statement issued Thursday, March 16. Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) said in a joint statement, providing no other details: "Based on the information available to us, we see no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element of the United States government either before or after Election Day 2016". The Hill wrote that Burr joins a steady drumbeat of Republicans who have explicitly contracted President Trump's explosive claims that he was surveilled during the campaign. The top Republican, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff (R-CA) on the House Intelligence Committee told reporters they had seen no evidence to support Trump's accusations.
If all the above didn't see any evidence, as they feel that Trump was lying, why is the president still insisting that he has something to present to the Congress as evidence? When and how will he concoct one? The Department of Justice has just presented something to the congressional committees, as evidence. Let's see where we go from here.
Many people, including Trump's supporters and critics have slammed him for making the wiretapping claim on his Twitter account without evidence. The AP reminds us that wire-tapping a U.S. citizen would require special permission from a court, and Trump as president would have the ability to declassify that information. There's no way Obama could have wiretapped Trump without the court's permission, so where is it? Did Trump look around before making such allegations? That why other congressional committees, according to the AP, are also pushing the administration to clarify Trump's claims. Sens. Lindsey Graham, and Sheldon Whitehouse, asked Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente and FBI Director James Comey to produce the paper trail created when the Justice Department's criminal division secures warrants for wiretaps. The senators, who head the Senate Judiciary Committee's crime and terrorism subcommittee, are seeking warrant applications and court orders, which they said can be scrubbed to protect secret intelligence sources and methods.
Senator Graham appealed to Trump and all those who have something to do with this allegation to come clean. In his words: "If it's not true, just tell me it's not true. Why is it taking so long to get the answer?" I have no evidence of it, I'm suspicious of it, but now I'm getting concerned because it's taking so long to answer my letter. I think the entire country needs to know ... if there's something there. If there's not, we need to put it to bed."
One thing for sure is that the Republican leaders incharge of this investigation are not taking it lightly since it's something concerning Obama (would be happy to have something to bury Obama alive), and just as the WP wrote, they "are threatening to expose Trump as the emperor with no clothes". In a report on March 15, the GOP House Intel Chair Nunes, who even served on Trump's transition team, said, at a press conference, that "clearly the president was wrong" if he meant literally that President Obama had wiretapped him". It's almost as though Republicans are tired of having President Trump's evidence-free allegations laid at their feet.
Trump is good at shifting blames, and is very manipulative. He's now at war with the press, but he has used it all his life to achieve limelight. What Trump did was trying to shift public opinion away from his ties to Russia. But, things don't go one's way all the time. This time, it backfired on Trump. Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader, according to The Washington Times, on March 5, called President Trump the "deflector-in-chief," accusing him of manipulating news coverage to his benefit. She blasted Mr. Trump's claim that the Obama administration wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 election campaign, calling it "just ridiculous." Hear her: "The president, you know, is the deflector-in-chief. Anything to change the subject from where the heat is! It's called the wrap-up smear. You make up something, then you have the press write about it, and then you say, 'Everybody's writing about this charge. It's a tool of an authoritarian to just have you always be talking about what you want them to be talking about."
MS. Pelosi summed it up by saying that the wiretapping allegation has taken the focus off whether Russian president Vladimir Putin was involved in the hacking and release of Democratic National Committee emails, which proved damaging to Democrats during the race. In her words: "Rather than Russia, we're talking about, 'Did president Obama do … He certainly did not."
The WP hit it home when it wrote that the White House's reactions to Trump's evidence-free claims - be it this one or the one about millions of illegal votes in 2016 - is to call for investigations. That has the triple benefit of putting the onus on someone else to look into it, to buy some time and hope people forget that the president is making such wild allegations, and, in this case, to give themselves an excuse to clam up. The White House initially said it wouldn't comment on Trump's wiretapping claim while it was being investigated, and then it said it couldn't provide evidence because of separation of powers - another claim that strained credulity. And then, it claimed to have submitted something to the Congress. Why this vacillation?
But that also puts Republicans such as Nunes and Graham in the position of having to account for these claims - and calling on Trump and his team to put up or shut up. By pushing the administration to produce evidence - or else - they are effectively putting the ball back in the executive branch's court. The subtext: You can't just make these claims and then ask us to deal with the fallout.
Nunes in particular has faced some very tough questions from reporters, and he must feel as though he's being hung out to dry. Graham's angle is slightly different, in that he clearly doesn't think Trump's claim is accurate and wants to prove it. "If there is no warrant, then we'll have solved this problem: There was no wiretapping," he said this week.
Whether this will actually give Trump any pause in the future when making such allegations is an open question. But these members want to make sure he and the people around him at least think twice before saddling them and their GOP colleagues with another evidence-free Trump claim.
The latest is that the Justice Department, on Friday, March 17, delivered documents to the congressional committees investigating the wiretap allegations, responding to their request for information that could shed light on the alleged wiretap. Not pre-empting the findings of the committees, but, it was revealing that those documents submitted had nothing in them implicating Obama. Let's wait until the committees make their findings public. If Trump was making baseless allegations here, he will know that there's a difference between night and day, when the Congress finishes with him.