On Monday, press secretary Sean Spicer tried to explain that Trump only meant "general surveillance" and did not mean actual wiretapping at all when he tweeted THREE TIMES that Barack Obama specifically had WIRETAPPED his phones.
No, seriously. That's the best the White House came up with to explain away the Trump Tweet storm after 10 days of trying to figure out a response.
Actually, it's worse than that. You see, the Press Secretary tried to brush off what Trump wrote by saying -- and I can't believe that I'm about to type this, but it's what Sean Spicer actually said, and the truth will out -- that when Trump wrote in those tweets that Barack Obama wiretapped him he did not mean that President Obama personally hooked up a wiretap on his phone!
O dear lord, no one on earth thought that, including clueless fools who believe every word from Trump. Saying this as a way to divert attention takes the concept of pure obfuscation and moves it into the realm of performance art..
The press gave him some blowback, which was good to see, but they didn't go remotely enough, which was not acceptable. Mainly, they challenged Spicer himself about the accuracy of some of his own earlier statement, but no one challenged the reality of what Trump actually wrote -- that he said clearly and specifically that his PHONES were WIRETAPPED. That's not "general surveillance," that's specific and detailed. And he called President Obama "sick" for doing it.
But don't take my word for it. Here are three tweets from him. It's about as precise as you can get. Typos and all.
On MSNBC last night, David Frum made the point that, while it's necessary to address the wiretapping story, it's so minor compared to other major stories. And by spending so much time on this insane wiretap charge, the press is letting it dominate the news, rather than focus on recent stories about money laundering, ties between Trump officials and Russian oligarchs through the Bank of Cyprus, and a potential $400 million windfall for his son-in-law.
There's some truth to that. Though some of the press is cover that story. Rachel Maddow opened her show with a long piece on it. The New Yorker had a major investigative piece on Trump dealings with Azerbaijan that has connections to money laundering and Iran terrorists. These stories take time to germinate.
Also, I think it's more than just necessary, but critical to make an issue of the wiretapping story, and there are substantive, meaningful benefits from doing so. First of all, it's important that the Obama Administration not be falsely discredited, leaving Trump as the savior to sweep in and save the save. Second, the wiretapping story is a much easier one to present and disprove compared to international banking fraud. And third, any story that discredits Trump and his veracity helps support blocking rants and charges in the future.
On the other hand, I think it would be sort of fascinating to discover that Barack Obama actually did personally install the wiretaps himself. As long as he got a FISA warrant first, of course...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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