Over the weekend President Trump triggered a nuclear tweetstorm claiming that he had been wiretapped by President Obama. I tried to summarize the underlying facts in the story so far. It’s a story that has been out there in one form or another since this past November. What’s going on?
Weekly Standard editor Stephen Hayes turns to this question in the carefully reported account “Trump’s wiretap claims: What we know and what we don’t.” At the top of his story Steve notes that he has spent most of the past two days looking into the truth behind Trump’s tweetstorm. Steve sets this story into his exploration of the claims about ties between Trump’s team and Russia and counterclaims that the entire thing is an elaborate attempt to delegitimize Trump’s presidency.
Steve carefully reviews the media reports supporting the allegation of surveillance. To this Steve adds current comments from those working inside the Trump administration and others, such as former DNI Clapper’s denial yesterday on one of the Sunday gabfests. Steve notes Clapper’s denial and questions his credibility. It should be noted that Clapper also added a qualification to his denial: “Not to my knowledge.”
Steve observes: “Even after weeks of reporting, with good sources in the national security world, on Capitol Hill, and (believe it or not) among Trump’s team, I cannot claim with any real confidence to know the ground truth about Trump and Russia or potential federal investigations or Obama loyalists pushing storylines.” Nevertheless, this quotable quote answers the basic question I have had since Saturday morning: “White House sources acknowledge that Trump had no idea whether the claims he was making were true when he made them. He was basing his claims on media reports—some of them months old—about the possibility that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court had may have [sic] authorized surveillance of Trump associates, presumably pursuant to a federal investigation of their ties to Russia.”
Steve’s report this morning is necessary reading even if it is something of a work in progress.