March 6, 2017

Six Big Ways Trump WireTapping Story Will Boomerang on Him



 Trump arriving thru the bushes at the WH (AP)

SIX MAJOR WAYS THAT TRUMP’S WIRETAPPING CLAIMS COULD BACKFIRE (Washington Post)

1. Turning the FBI director against him:

James B. Comey asked the Justice Department this weekend to issue a statement refuting Trump’s claim that Obama ordered a wiretap, but the department did not do so. “The revelation underscores the fraught nature of the FBI’s high-profile investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election,” Abby Phillip and Ellen Nakashima note. “A key question fueling that inquiry is whether Trump associates colluded with Russian officials to help Trump win. … It is not clear why Comey … did not himself issue a statement to refute Trump’s claims.”

“Mr. Comey's request is a remarkable rebuke of a sitting president, putting the nation's top law enforcement official in the position of questioning Mr. Trump's truthfulness,” notes the New York Times, which first reported the news. “The confrontation between the two is the most serious consequence of Mr. Trump's weekend Twitter outburst, and it underscores the dangers of what the president and his aides have unleashed by accusing the former president of a conspiracy….”


White House counsel Don McGahn (Albin Lohr-Jones/Pool via Bloomberg)
2. Prodding the White House counsel to take risks he otherwise would not:

Trump’s tweets caught his top aides by surprise, and they spent Saturday trying to figure out how to respond and looking for any backup.

A senior White House official told The New York Times on Saturday that Donald McGahn was working to secure access to what he believed to be an order issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court authorizing some form of surveillance related to Trump and his associates. “The official offered no evidence to support the notion that such an order exists,” Michael D. Shear and Michael S. Schmidt reported. “It would be a highly unusual breach of the Justice Department’s traditional independence on law enforcement matters for the White House to order it to turn over such an investigative document. Any request for information from a top White House official about a continuing investigation would be a stunning departure from protocols intended to insulate the F.B.I. from political pressure. It would be even more surprising for the White House to seek information about a case directly involving the president or his advisers.” After the Times story blew up, another administration official walked back the earlier statements.

  (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)
3. Trump has become the boy who cried wolf:

The president’s claims about Obama wiretapping were so indefensible that even his aides would not defend them directly, Aaron Blake notes, pointing to tweets from press secretary Sean Spicer and a Sunday show appearance by deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “Let's look into this,” Sanders said. “If this happened, if this is accurate, this is the biggest overreach and the biggest scandal.” Trump, of course, didn’t equivocate; he stated it as fact.

Trump has a very long history of making very serious allegations with no facts to back them up. Beyond his multi-year quest to prove Obama was not born in the United States, the president has said that his predecessor did not really attend Columbia University, insinuated last year that Obama bribed the New York attorney general to investigate Trump University and called him “the founder of ISIS.”

Among the other fallacious claims that Trump made during the campaign which he never offered any substantiation for:

*The IRS might be auditing his tax returns “because of the fact that I'm a strong Christian.”
*He suggested that Ted Cruz’s father was somehow involved with Lee Harvey Oswald.
*He said there’s something "very fishy" about Vince Foster's death.
*He trafficked in rumors that Antonin Scalia may have been a victim of foul play. “They say they found a pillow on his face,” Trump said in one radio interview, “which is a pretty unusual place to find a pillow.”
*He said vaccines may cause childhood autism.
*He maintained that thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrated the Sept. 11 attacks.
*He insisted that a man who charged the security barricades at one of his rallies in Ohio was a member of the Islamic State. He based this false statement on a hoax Internet video he and his staff saw online.

What happens in the aftermath of a terrorist attack, during a natural disaster or amid an economic crisis? He’ll desperately need the American people to trust and rally behind him, but he will have drained the reservoir of goodwill. That is when Trump’s credibility gap is going to become a cataclysmic problem for his presidency and, frankly, for the country.
 
4. Making his White House look dysfunctional:

“Trump’s presidency has veered onto a road with no centerlines or guardrails,” Karen Tumulty writes in a smart analysis. “Trump’s response also has deepened doubts about his own judgment, not just in the face of the first crisis to confront his young presidency but in dealing with the challenges that lie ahead for the chief executive of the world’s most powerful nation. … The voice of a U.S. commander in chief carries much greater weight than that of just about anyone else on the planet. Trump’s detractors say the way he uses that platform has worrisome implications that go far beyond the sensation he creates on social media and his ability to dominate the news. … Nor does Trump appear to have a governing apparatus around him that can temper and channel his impulses.” Two quotes:

“We have as president a man who is erratic, vindictive, volatile, obsessive, a chronic liar, and prone to believe in conspiracy theories,” said conservative commentator Peter Wehner, who was the top policy strategist in George W. Bush’s White House. “And you can count on the fact that there will be more to come, since when people like Donald Trump gain power they become less, not more, restrained.”

“When the president goes off and does what he did within the last few days, of just going ahead and tweeting without checking on things, there’s something wrong. There’s something wrong in terms of the discipline within the White House and how you operate,” said Leon Panetta, a White House chief of staff for Bill Clinton and CIA director during the Obama administration, on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”


Sen. Ben Sasse visits his Lincoln, Neb., office last month. (Nati Harnik/AP)
5. Emboldening conservatives to call for a full investigation:

Many congressional Republicans are already fatigued with having to defend Trump when he makes these kinds of claims, and the charges of illegal eavesdropping may prompt some to support something more aggressive than the ongoing probes by the House and Senate intelligence committees.

"I'm very worried that our president is suggesting that the former president's done something illegally," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said at a town hall meeting in his state on Saturday night. "I would be very worried if, in fact, the Obama administration was able to obtain a warrant lawfully about Trump campaign activity with foreign governments. So it's my job as a United States senator to get to the bottom of this. I promise you I will."

"We are in the midst of a civilization-warping crisis of public trust, and the President’s allegations … demand the thorough and dispassionate attention of serious patriots,” said Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) in a statement. “A quest for the full truth, rather than knee-jerk partisanship, must be our guide if we are going to rebuild civic trust and health.”

“The president put that out there, and now the White House will have to answer as to exactly what he was referring to,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said on "Meet the Press.” “Look, I didn’t make the allegation. I’m not the person that went out there and said it.”


6. Ensuring, more broadly, that the Russia connections continue to overshadow his domestic agenda:

If they have nothing to hide, why haven’t they been forthcoming? Trump and his spokeswoman categorically denied that any communication took place between the campaign and any foreign entity. “In fact, it is now clear it did happen,” Rosalind Helderman notes. “The past few days have brought a growing list of confirmed communications between Trump campaign aides and Russian officials, with each new revelation adding to a cloud of suspicion that hangs over the White House.… It is unclear why the White House has consistently denied contacts with Russian officials if the meetings that took place were innocuous. As a result, the confirmations of the encounters have trickled out through a series of news stories that have proved increasingly damaging to the Trump administration.”

Tomorrow’s confirmation hearing for Rod Rosenstein to become deputy attorney general will now be must-see TV. Because Sessions has recused himself, he will now oversee anything that comes from election-related investigations. Democrats will press him hard on everything related to the recusal and Russia:


All of the heat on Trump is starting to have an impact on his foreign policy, as well: “Trump is telling advisers and allies that he may shelve, at least temporarily, his plan to pursue a deal with Moscow on the Islamic State group and other national security matters,” the Associated Press’s Julie Pace reports. “The reconsideration of a central tenet of his foreign policy underscores the growing political risks in forging closer relations with Russia.”

[Latest]
 Trump’s temporary win over Transexual Civil Rights to use a bathroom of their gender:

-- The Supreme Court this morning vacated a lower court’s ruling in favor of a Virginia transgender student after the Trump administration withdrew the federal government’s guidance to public schools about the controversial bathroom policy. From Robert Barnes: "The justices were scheduled to hear the case later this month. But after the federal government’s position changed, the court said the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit should reconsider the dispute between the Gloucester County school board and 17-year-old Gavin Grimm. The 4th Circuit had relied on the federal government’s guidance that school should let transgender students use the bathroom that corresponds with the student’s gender identity. The Trump administration withdrew that guidance, which was issued by the Obama administration. Both the school board and Grimm’s attorneys had asked the Supreme Court to let the case proceed, saying it presented a reading of the civil rights law Title IX that the court ultimately will have to settle.”

This story was posted on the  Washington Post. I invite you to click and go to the page and get an idea of why Trump does what he does and what problems are being ignored pushed aside by this continuing of fight picking by this man. 

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