By EDDIE CELAYA
Donald Trump may not be all wrong this time. But he just may be shooting himself in the foot. Actually, we may have the beginnings of a farewell-letter to the greatest American political suicide since Richard Nixon.
Let’s recap. After a month that saw National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resign for lying about phone-calls with Russian officials, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from any Trump-Russia investigations for the same reasons.
Then Trump seemingly went off the deep end.
“How low has President Obama gone to tapp (sic) my phones during the very sacred election process,” Trump tweeted at 6:30 AM on March 4 from Mar-a-Lago. “This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”
The tweet is a bombshell of an allegation. A sitting president accusing his predecessor of wire-tapping is indeed Nixonian.
Reactions from both sides were swift and predictable. Democrats and their allies gave the old “there you go again,” head shake you give to a puppy who won’t stop shitting on the couch.
After all, Trump (as always) disobeyed the first law of high school English teachers: cite your source.
Trump associates and apologists either took the Donald’s assertion as The Word handed down form on high, or pointed to a March 3 Breitbart article that seems to be the genesis for Trump’s claim.
The article, which may require visiting Breitbart without being within five minutes’ drive of a shower, is basically a lazy timeline linking to actual reporting done by credible news organizations. It is easily the best piece of writing I’ve ever come across on Breitbart.
The most interesting link (which also happens to be the only one directly connected to Trump’s wire-tap assertion) redirects to an article by former British politician Louise Mensch on her website HeatStreet.
Citing two unnamed sources, Mensch writes that on two separate occasions, the FBI requested a warrant be issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to “examine the activities of ‘U.S. persons’ in Donald Trump’s campaign with ties to Russia.”
Note, not Trump himself, but people involved with his campaign.
On the first occasion, in June 2016, the FBI was denied because the request was too broad according to the article. The second request, however, was reportedly granted.
“The second was drawn more narrowly and was granted in October after evidence was presented of a server,” Mensch writes. “And its alleged links to two banks; SVB Bank and Russia’s Alfa Bank.”
The importance of this FISC warrant can’t be understated. First, the President can request a FISC warrant, but it seems that in this case, it wasn’t the president, but a federal intelligence agency (the FBI) that made the request.
Second, even if Obama had some involvement requesting the warrant, it would not have been granted had the government not been able to prove that “U.S. Person’s” within Trump’s campaign had at least been in contact with somebody in Russia.
Some conservatives have argued that the FISC is easy to manipulate, or that the Obama administration was involved in a witch-hunt, citing the failed first request for a warrant as evidence.
If anything, it’s actually further evidence in the case to indict Trump. Note that the FBI tightened their noose around contacts between Trump Tower and Russian banks. The court likely was presented evidence alleging some sort of transaction(s) that smell.
So was Trump’s tweet just a sloppy attempt to deflect attention from the Sessions’ scandal by deflecting blame to Obama, even though it really just outs him as being the subject of a legal federal investigation?
I actually think Trump is deflecting. Not in response to current allegations against Flynn and Sessions, but against an anticipated (and I believe, highly probable) revelation dealing with Trump’s taxes and his ties business ties to unsavory figures in Moscow.
Whatever the reason, Trump has ensured the country of one thing. He who lives by the tweet, dies by the tweet.