Patterico's Pontifications


NYT: Comey Trying to Get DoJ to Debunk Trump Wiretap Assertions

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 2:51 pm


The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, asked the Justice Department this weekend to publicly reject President Trump’s assertion that President Barack Obama ordered the tapping of Mr. Trump’s phones, senior American officials said on Sunday. Mr. Comey has argued that the highly charged claim is false and must be corrected, they said, but the department has not released any such statement.

Mr. Comey, who made the request on Saturday after Mr. Trump leveled his allegation on Twitter, has been working to get the Justice Department to knock down the claim because it falsely insinuates that the F.B.I. broke the law, the officials said.

A spokesman for the F.B.I. declined to comment. Sarah Isgur Flores, the spokeswoman for the Justice Department, also declined to comment.

“Senior American officials.” I tend to believe Trump’s assertions are moronic misunderstandings of stuff he saw on the teevee, based on common sense, the lack of reporting to confirm any aspect of Trump’s claims, and a plausible narrative that involves an imbecile rushing to Twitter after seeing a Fox News report. But it’s also impossible to give any credence to stories in the New York Times based wholly on anonymous sources. So we’re back to square one, where we know nothing, meaning partisans on both sides will make confident pronouncements to fill the vacuum. Yay.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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.]

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