Over the weekend, President Trump tweeted that President Barack Obama “had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”
This led a huge number of media and political commentators to suggest that Trump was actively undermining faith in government.
Where have they been for the past few years?
Trump’s election is a clear symptom of Americans’ disenchantment with government. We believe our government is riddled with corruption, thoroughly shot through with politically driven bureaucrats.
A quick survey of those denying Trump’s charges proves the point.
1. FBI Director James Comey. According to The New York Times, FBI Director James 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.” The Times says that Comey thinks Trump’s weekend tweets on the subject are “false and must be corrected.” The Department of Justice, under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has done no such thing.
This has led the left to re-embrace Comey after months of claiming that Comey threw the election to Trump by his late announcement that an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server had been reopened. “NEW COMEY SHOWDOWN,” trumpeted The Huffington Post, with a heroic picture of Comey facing down a nasty-looking Trump. The Daily Beast headlined, “Why Politicians Can’t Stand James Comey.” Comey’s a hero again! All it took was for him to take a position adversarial to Trump’s.
Now, it’s entirely likely that Comey is correct here – that Trump is spouting off, as he frequently does, on Twitter, and that he has no specific evidence that Obama ordered wiretapping of him in Trump Tower, or that such wiretapping even took place. But Comey has no credibility anymore because of his interference in the 2016 election, first to absolve Hillary Clinton and then to drop questions about her and then to re-absolve her. Nobody’s going to let Trump’s accusations go based on Comey’s word.
2. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Over the weekend, former DNI Clapper was asked about Trump’s accusations. “I can deny it,” Clapper stated. “I will say that for the part of the national security apparatus that I oversaw as DNI, there was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president-elect at the time, or [him] as a candidate, or against his campaign.
This would have more credibility if Clapper hadn’t committed perjury by testifying before Congress in 2013 that the NSA did not “collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.” That was a lie, as Edward Snowden’s revelations proved. Clapper was never prosecuted for perjury.
3. The Obama White House. “A cardinal rule of the Obama administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice,” a spokesman for President Obama said. “As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any US citizen.” Obama has no credibility on any of these issues. He presided over the most politicized DOJ in the modern era. Attorney General Eric Holder quashed prosecution of the New Black Panthers for political reasons; was held in contempt for his facilitation of arms smuggling to Mexican drug cartels in Operation Fast and Furious (for which Obama declared executive privilege to protect him); his DOJ targeted police departments all over America for political reasons. Loretta Lynch, his successor, participated in election politics by meeting with Bill Clinton on a tarmac in the middle of the DOJ investigation of the Clintons. And according to media reports, the Obama administration asked for a FISA warrant to wiretap Trump officials – twice. So did Obama do anything here directly? He wouldn’t have to. As many people have noted, Obama’s denial here – his “cardinal rule” – doesn’t amount to much, given the fact that the DOJ would know where its bread is buttered. Obama didn’t have to give Lois Lerner any specific direction in order to have his IRS target conservatives – she knew where her bread was buttered too.
4. The Political Media. The media have declared Trump’s presidency corrupt from the start, without any hard evidence linking Trump to the Russians; they’ve declared that this set of accusations is truly out of bounds after reporting for months on leaked information regarding wiretapping that caught up Trump officials or targeted them. It’s a bit ridiculous for the public to believe their strong denials now, given their record of protecting the Obama administration and targeting Trump.
In other words, Trump is probably spouting nonsense here. But it’s not totally nonsense, and it’s a little late to blame Trump for collapse of faith in government. He’s in office because of it. And those who are ripping him now were part of the problem.