Patterico's Pontifications


Sean Spicer: We’ll Have No Further Comment on That “Tapp” of Trump’s Phone

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:30 am

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (in which case I envy you, can I come live with you?), you’ve heard that President Donald Trump went on another Twitter jag yesterday with tweets like this one accusing President Obama of putting a “tapp” on his phone:

When you just came on devastating evidence of malfeasance by the previous opposition party administration, you’re gonna want to air all that evidence.

By contrast, when the President takes to Twitter to rant and rave about something he mis-heard on Fox News, you’re gonna get radio silence.

And radio silence is what Sean Spicer suggests we’ll be hearing from the Administration:

They have no new basis for Trump’s statements. He ranted about something he saw on the tube. So they’re going to ignore it.

They’re going to simply hunker down, mutter stuff about how serious this is, and hope it goes away. It’s the strategy Trump adopted when he was caught on audio pretending to be a guy named John Miller, and having implausibly denied it. He simply disappeared from view for a few days, rolled out another shiny car for the media hounds to chase, and the issue went away. He’s never been asked about it since.

It might seem implausible today, but I think that’s what will happen with this too. By this time next week, you’ll have forgotten all about this.

But since we’re still talking about it today: I’ll offer my two cents. (I am spending a chunk of my Sunday morning discussing tweets from Donald Trump. Please shoot me now.) To me, the discussion on this has conflated two things: 1) Was Barack Obama capable of engaging in an abusive and politically motivated wiretap? (Yes, of course he was!) and 2) Is there new evidence that President Obama actually ordered a “tapp” (or even a “tap”) of Donald Trump’s phone? (It appears not.)

The video my colleague streiff linked yesterday, in which Paul Ryan and Bret Baier discuss the previously-reported efforts by Obama’s DoJ to get certain FISA warrants, is in my opinion the reason that Trump took to Twitter. I believe that segment was the entire basis for his tweets. We know Trump gets his information from the teevee. We know he barely reads. And we know that he is bored by details — details like whether Baier and Ryan were talking about a “tapp” of Trump’s phone by Obama for political purposes (which would be clearly outrageous) or a more general and court-authorized DoJ wiretap of Russian diplomats that might pick up conversations with people in Trump’s orbit (certainly legal). Niggling details!!

To me, Trump is like that crazy guy you pass on the street who is screaming to himself. You don’t normally stop, listen, stroke your chin thoughtfully, and ponder whether it might be true that the aliens are just around the corner with giant laser beams they’re using to melt puppies.

If that guy has a Twitter account, it doesn’t make his ravings any more plausible. Now, here’s the tough part: if he is President of the United States, it still doesn’t mean his ravings are responsible commentary.

There’s Good Trump, who nominates great Justices and rolls back regulations, and Crazy Trump, who is uninformed and TV-obsessed and has a short attention span and goes around saying bizarre things. The fact that we like Good Trump doesn’t mean we have to defend Crazy Trump’s insane rants.

So investigate away. When you uncover new actual evidence that Barack Obama actually wiretapped Trump’s phone — something that we all know he’s capable of, but we have no evidence he actually did — then get back to me. (Yes, I meant to use variants of the word “actual” three times in that sentence.) Until then, I’m going to go back to ignoring this. I’m going to enjoy my Sunday. By next Sunday, we’ll be talking about something else anyway.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

57 Responses to “Sean Spicer: We’ll Have No Further Comment on That “Tapp” of Trump’s Phone”

  1. This feels like a post where I won’t be commenting here. See you at The Jury.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  2. we spend way too much money on them for our cia fbi nsa “intelligence agencies” to be so corrupt and trashy

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  3. And its very hard to establish, as with the whole lerndr Nix hem minions business.

    narciso (d1f714)

  4. http;/

    narciso (d1f714)

  5. People don’t know fisa (one of the solon’s bright ideas, along with vawa) so you explain in it the simplest terms.

    narciso (d1f714)

  6. I guess a president tweeting wasn’t everyone’s first idea for a transparent administration but the times they are a changin’.

    Pinandpuller (061e95)

  7. President Obama watching a 16 year old Brazilian chick walk away.

    “I’d tap that.”

    Pinandpuller (061e95)

  8. It all depends on what was the predicate,

    Here’s the thing there are real people being shot, by criminals enabled by the rules Perez and lynch put in place, terrorist wit

    narciso (d1f714)

  9. Will come from those seven countries on that lists, illegal left unattended by ice will coomitt criminal offenses.

    narciso (d1f714)

  10. I’m the Wiz! I’m the Wiz!

    And nobody taps me!

    I’m the Wiz!

    Pinandpuller (061e95)

  11. Thing is, the plausiblilities are equal. It is just as plausible that the SCOAMF would bug Trump’s campaign headquarters with a view to helping Hillary get elected as it is that Trump is fruitier than a nutcake.

    nk (dbc370)

  12. our powerline friends have a nice post about all the fake news on this story the Associated Press propaganda sluts are doing

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  13. To those with understanding that piece looks like it was written on another planet, perhaps tattoine

    narciso (d1f714)

  14. 14) is the level of cover, they are willing to concede to favorite apparatchiks. 15) is all the evidence that should made them to a tap.

    narciso (d1f714)

  15. FISA judges are corrupt rubber-stamping trash

    yes yes yes yes yes yes yes is what they say

    so it’s astounding and notable they had to tell the sleazy comey fbi to go eff itself

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  16. I’m sure Trump thought FISA was a drug company, right?

    Pinandpuller (061e95)

  17. “POLITICO: How the feds could have listened to Trump’s phone calls.

    Related: Yes, There Could Be Serious Legal Problems if Obama Admin Involved in Illegal Surveillance. “Here are the problematic aspects of the Obama surveillance on Trump’s team, and on Trump himself. First, it is not apparent FISA could ever be invoked. Second, it is possible Obama’s team may have perjured themselves before the FISA court by withholding material information essential to the FISA court’s willingness to permit the government surveillance. Third, it could be that Obama’s team illegally disseminated and disclosed FISA information in direct violation of the statute precisely prohibiting such dissemination and disclosure. FISA prohibits, under criminal penalty, Obama’s team from doing any of the three.”

    UPDATE: ‘Conducted at the behest of the Justice Dept.’: Fmr Bush AG Mukasey discusses Trump’s wiretap claims.

    ANOTHER UPDATE: Lindsey Graham offers two ways Trump Tower wiretapping could be bigger than Watergate.”

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  18. PJM’s J. Christian Adams been eatin bread

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  19. The next taps the D-tards hear should be “Donk Donk!”.

    Pinandpuller (061e95)

  20. You should rename this blog to: “I hate Trump!”

    Scott (98cb1c)

  21. By next Sunday, we’ll be talking about something else anyway.
    Or Not!
    This one may have leggs!

    askeptic (340f22)

  22. nonono you should rename this blog to: “I heart Trump!”

    and say it like you mean it i can tell when you’re not being sincere

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  23. Looks like chaff.
    Smells like borscht.
    Tastes like… strawberries.

    “Ahh, but the strawberries that’s… that’s where I had them. They laughed at me and made jokes but I proved beyond the shadow of a doubt and with… geometric logic… that a duplicate key to the wardroom icebox DID exist…” – Captain Queeg [Humphrey Bogart] ‘The Caine Mutiny’ 1956

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  24. You’re way off base here, Patrick.

    1 – the scandal is not whether Barack Obama personally ordered the tapp. I mean, it would be a massive scandal if he did order the tapp, but there are many other ways that this could be a scandal, especially if the tapp was misused for election advantage. Remember, Watergate did not come down to whether Nixon personally ordered the burglary.

    2 – if there was nothing to this, there would be no reason to cut off the tweets, in that Trump could milk a baseless nothingburger for maximum political value for a few weeks. The only reasons to cut off tweets would be (A) if there’s a real law enforcement investigation going on, or (B) if Trump wants to trick people into thinking that there’s a real investigation. Maybe this is an elaborate hoax by Mr. Trump, but I doubt it. After all, if he wants an investigation, there should be an investigation, right? He’s the President! Do you think he doesn’t want to investigate his enemies?

    3 – “If that guy has a Twitter account, it doesn’t make his ravings any more plausible. Now, here’s the tough part: if he is President of the United States, it still doesn’t mean his ravings are responsible commentary.”

    Responsible commentary? Not necessarily. But plausible? HELL YES it makes his tweets more plausible that he is not a street person, but that he is POTUS, with access to a significant amount of intelligence, classified materials, FISA materials, etc. This time, he might be lying, or mistaken. It wouldn’t be the first time. But he brings a lot more credibility to bear on this situation than a random street person.

    And I want to reiterate: Obama has only denied the tip of the iceberg. He has only denied (through a spokeshole) that he personally ordered the surveillance to be put into place. He did not deny:

    -That conversations where 1 party was in Trump Tower were tapped
    -That the tapped conversations include conversations that did not involve Russians
    -That any of the tapped conversations pertained to the election, and especially election strategy
    -That there was no limit on what could be tapped, such as a prohibition on collecting information about election strategy
    -That the purpose of the tap was to collect information about election strategy
    -Knowing about the tap during the election
    -Listening to conversations, before the election, that were tapped
    -Reading transcripts or summaries, before the election, of the tapped communications
    -Passing the tapped communications, or information about the tapped communications, to the Hillary campaign (or the DNC, but I repeat myself)
    -Using information collected from the tap, after the election, to smear Trump’s administration as being in bed with Russia
    -Keeping information collected from the tapp, after leaving office
    -Transmitting information collected from the tapp via a personal (private, non-governmental) email address
    -Deleting information about the tapp to cover up evidence of a crime or political scandal

    And if you want to get hypertechnical (“It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is”), Obama did not even deny personally walking down to the courthouse to ask FISA to implement the tap, he only denied “ordering” it, which he doesn’t actually have the power to do, only a FISA judge can approve it.

    So far, Obama has not denied any of the items on that list. That’s outrageous. He needs to answer these allegations. He needs to say that he did nothing wrong (or admit that he did), and he needs to specifically admit or deny everything on that list. He owes it to the American people. Hopefully Congress will subpoena him ASAP to answer those questions under oath.

    Daryl Herbert (7be116)

  25. President Obama watching a 16 year old Brazilian chick walk away.

    “I’d tap that.”


    I thought it was Trump who liked pervin’ and creepin’ on those 15 year old pageant contestants. Obama’s a church going family man compared to ‘wife got old so I ditched her for a “hot piece of ass” Trump.

    Dustin (ba94b2)

  26. obama’s nasty and he likes valerie better than michelle you know sexually cause he has mommy issues

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  27. (his mom abandoned him and slept her way across the pacific with her student loan money)

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  28. It’s true, happyfeet, that Obama’s home life as a kid was not traditional family values and I bet that made life hard for young Barack Obama. But in his own decisions, the ones he would be responsible for, he never left the mother of his children, has always been there for his children, and ran an administration that was squeaky clean on sex scandals. I would say Obama is like George W Bush on this. There is much to criticize him on for policy, but he appears to be a decent man when it comes to the really important measures of a man. He’s a good father and a good husband, and it would be truly sad if someone denied this simply because of partisanship.

    And of course anyone who praises Trump’s family values while bashing Obama is simply a demented partisan. Trump is the sleaziest man in America. All those astroturfed calls about his family ignored that one daughter, how his first wife described her rape under oath, all the groping victims, the bragging about the gropping, the walking in on naked kids, etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc.

    If Bill Clinton had done just a single one of those things it would have totally eclipsed the Lewinksy scandal. A lot of Americans had always thought the GOP’s freakout over Bill Clinton was just politics, and Trump proves them right (though I had never realized this until Trump).

    As for Trump lying about Obama’s wiretap, I have to laugh at the people defending him. Just laugh. No reason to even address it beyond that.

    Dustin (ba94b2)

  29. To reason by analogy: suppose a guy named Barry was accused by @POTUS of robbbing a bank to help fund the Clinton campaign.

    Barry sends a spokeshole out to say “Barry denies opening the vault.”

    But Barry doesn’t deny:
    -knowing about the robbbery before it happened
    -knowing who committed the robbbery
    -planning the robbbery
    -giving money from the robbbery to the Hillary campaign
    -helping to launder money from the robbbery
    -driving the getaway car
    -being present in the bank when the robbbery went down
    -pointing a gun at the bank teller and saying “open the vault for me, or I’ll blow your head off”
    I don’t think we would say “golly, Barry’s response clears up all doubts about this situation, there’s nothing to see here and we need to move on, Trump is an irresponsible orange lie-monster with an itchy tweet-finger and he reminds me of a deranged street person”

    Daryl Herbert (7be116)

  30. Daryl, that’s a good point. Suppose a guy named Donny accused Ted Cruz’s dad of assassinating JFK, and Ted Cruz says “That’s disgusting”

    But Ted Cruz doesn’t deny

    -that his dad is cuban
    -that Fidel Castro is cuban
    -that his dad has been to dallas
    -that there’s no evidence he wasn’t on the grassy knoll

    Makes you go hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

    After a while it’s safe to say absolutely everything Trump says is a lie because he is a pathological liar, makes up grandiose lies about his political adversaries in particular, and is also pretty stupid… easily the dumbest president in American history.

    But in particular, anything Trump says about a minority needs real evidence just based on the man’s history. There’s no evidence, the guy’s a liar, so why are we talking about this? It’s just a national embarrassment.

    If Trump were smart he would have shut up after his well received teleprompter speech. Given himself a few days of being a president.

    Dustin (ba94b2)

  31. 25. Heeyyy, stop talkin’ about Sen. McCaskill.

    urbanleftbehind (997f23)

  32. Those were third hand accounts from Wayne madsen, even though I know someone who worked for the puzzle palace, the fact boyce Snowdon and this guy were employed by them, makes me a little weary

    narciso (d1f714)

  33. Huckabee-Sanders on ABC: “This is a very, very real potential.”


    Definitely smells like borscht.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  34. “If Trump were smart”

    If Trump took advice from all the people who claimed to be smarter than him, he would not be the President.

    Daryl Herbert (7be116)

  35. She’s definitely third string alternate.

    narciso (d1f714)

  36. If Trump took advice from all the people who claimed to be smarter than him, he would not be the President.

    Daryl Herbert

    No question about it.

    And yet he is an idiot anyway. This is confusing to those tho associate his winning the upset election with brilliance, but those folks are confused and likely partisans (partisan is a synonym for dumb).

    Dustin (ba94b2)

  37. Deems don’t give a farthing about Russia, except it seemed duruping the summer Olympics where ioffe. seemed to more concerned about gay marriage, and enabled the takeover of crimes.

    narciso (d1f714)

  38. america really needs a really smart person like bill clinton or barack obama as president
    then things will really be good

    Cruz Supporter (102c9a)

  39. tip o’neill said that president mr ronald was an amiable dunce

    Cruz Supporter (102c9a)

  40. Suppose a guy named Donny accused Ted Cruz’s dad of assassinating JFK

    That’s pretty farfetched. No responsible person would accuse a presidential candidate’s father, with zero evidence, of being behind a presidential assassination.

    But to answer your purely fictional hypothetical question:

    There is a reason we are very concerned about an administration wiretapping the opposing party’s political campaign. It is because we don’t trust politicians with that kind of power. We are concerned that they would misuse the information, pass it to their own political campaign, or hold on to it for blackmail purposes/leverage.

    The facts, as they are unfolding, suggest that the Trump campaign was actually wiretapped (no one who would know has denied that). It is not at all unreasonable to be concerned that the wiretapping was misused by an administration that enthusiastically misused the IRS to target political opponents.

    Let me put this another way: if you found out that the campaign of a Democrat running for Senate in 2018 was wiretapped by the Trump administration, would you be showing the same level of hostility towards people concerned that there might be political abuses happening? Would you be okay with Trump blowing off the accusations, or would you want Congress to put him under oath, and get some answers?

    This isn’t a moon landing conspiracy theory or a JFK assassination conspiracy theory. It’s serious stuff.

    If I recall correctly, Congress thoroughly investigated the JFK assassination. They didn’t say: “cram your conspiracy theories and take our word for it, there’s nothing to see here”

    Daryl Herbert (7be116)

  41. @41. ‘Tip’ of the day: Actually, it was Clark Clifford.

    “Oops!” – 2012 debate flub, Rick Perry, former Texas governor, GOP presidential candidate and present head of the DOE.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  42. Ah yes the guynwhomwas the frontmam for bcci banking cartel and mishandled the harriman family estate, he availed himself of that excuse.

    narciso (d1f714)

  43. Hey everyone, Trump did a typo. In a tweet.

    Trump has a genius for getting everyone all spun up… and not just on this blog
    My guess is that he is trying to overwhelm the Russian fixated media with conflicting and concurrent memes.
    In a few days he’ll tweet something else outrageous out and everyone will wake up and wonder how the Dems let him appoint a deputy AG

    steveg (5508fb)

  44. Dustin, during the Bill Clinton fiasco, there was still some hope of rescuing our society from becoming a sexual free-for-all with no standards or morals. Today that battle is clearly lost, so what is the point of sniping at people on our side over it? Especially when the person on our side is the only one who has any chance of slowing down the mass invasion of our country by foreign peasants who are rapidly turning this into a third-world hell hole like the ones they wanted to escape from.

    Doc Rampage (338fac)

  45. Daryl Herbert,

    You’re on a roll, dude! Keep listing all the other things Obama hasn’t denied doing. Use your imagination. I’m sure it will be informative.

    Leviticus (d4d726)

  46. There’s a bit of cognitive dissonance here.

    Now, I’m not as smart as Scott Adams, so I don’t know any tells…
    But I do know that Trump managed to win the nomination over 16 other Republicans, managed to get elected President when Hillary was given a 95% chance of winning, before running for President he built a multi-BILLION dollar company and luxury high-rise buildings all over the world, etc.

    Just how many crazy street-corner raving idiots have accomplished any of that?

    Ahhhh, it’s going to be a long 8 years for some people.

    fred-2 (ce04f3)

  47. Well when Obama has been caught lying about policy, from robertscare to the Iran deal, the press just tell people to move along, he drew the lion’s share of corporate money yet pretends to the people’s champion.

    narciso (36a055)

  48. George Soros is richer than Trump. And so are 335 other individuals on this list.

    nk (dbc370)

  49. Yes he’s aborted whole countries currencies make goldfinger look like a piker.

    narciso (36a055)

  50. Trump is kind of growing on me, though. I said, during the election, that neither he nor his strumpet should be allowed within a mile of the White House. Well, they’re doing their best to stay away. She in New York and he in Mar-a-Lago. It seems they only go to the White House when they absolutely have to, and I appreciate that.

    And his cabinet appointments and executive orders so far have, for the most part, been very good, too.

    nk (dbc370)

  51. Carlos slim lost a quarter of his net worth over the last two years

    narciso (36a055)

  52. Puffington has shown the same characteristic eleventy attitude it is known for.

    narciso (36a055)

  53. In his own words, Trump’s net worth changes depending on the mood he’s in.

    nk (dbc370)

  54. The WaPo reporter who puts out a daily newsletter leads it off this morning with chapter and verse on how the entire episode starting Saturday morning was a planned effort to get the Jeff Sessions recusal story off the Sunday talk show agenda, and it succeeded wildly. Sessions unexpectedly recused himself from all Russia/Campaign related matters on Thursday afternoon, only hours after Trump had given him a vote of confidence. As has been widely reported, Trump was furious about this on Friday, and his reaction was going to be the story on Saturday.

    Until he started tweeting Saturday morning about the wiretapping claims, and the Sessions stuff just melted away.

    Now we have the revised immigration EO today, the House Obamacare bill coming later this week, and the Gorsuch hearing before the Judiciary Committe starts in 2 weeks.

    So, if you believe the WaPo guy, there isn’t anything new here, but the entire episode was another example of Trump getting the press to chase another shiny object when he wants to district them.

    shipwreckedcrew (56b591)

  55. Trump needs to throw in more typos. Start abbreviating and throwing out vowels. Just for the vapors of the Democrat/nvrtrmpr non-heteros.

    jcurtis (ccb0b9)

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