It looks like a Breitbart article published yesterday is what set off Trump’s unhinged Twitter rant this morning, in which he accused President Obama of orchestrating a “Nixon/Watergate” plot to tap phones at Trump Tower prior to the election. The Breitbart article alleges the Obama admin used “police state” tactics to monitor the Trump campaign, per WaPo. WaPo also quotes a “senior intelligence official” who speculates as follows about Trump’s accusation:
“It’s highly unlikely there was a wiretap. It seems unthinkable. If that were the case by some chance, that means that a federal judge would have found that there was either probable cause that he had committed a crime or was an agent of a foreign power.”
That might be exactly what happened. We know there is supposedly an ongoing FBI investigation into Russian meddling in the US election, and in January, The Guardian and BBC both reported on a FISA warrant obtained in connection with that investigation. Here’s a contemporaneous summary from Lawfare:
…[F]ollowing Buzzfeed’s publication of the complete dossier, the Guardian reported on January 11 that it had: “learned that the FBI applied for a warrant from the foreign intelligence surveillance (Fisa) court over the summer in order to monitor four members of the Trump team suspected of irregular contacts with Russian officials. The Fisa court turned down the application asking FBI counter-intelligence investigators to narrow its focus. According to one report, the FBI was finally granted a warrant in October, but that has not been confirmed, and it is not clear whether any warrant led to a full investigation.”
The following day, on January 12, the BBC offered a more detailed account, based on “several sources,” and corroborated by a “senior member of the US intelligence community.” According to this report, the investigation began last April when then-CIA Director John Brennan became aware of a tape of a conversation about money from Moscow being funneled into the US presidential campaign, which was passed to him by an intelligence agency “in one of the Baltic States.”
Seemingly in line with the Guardian reporting, the BBC reported that a FISA warrant had been obtained in October after being rejected as overbroad not once, but twice by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. However, unlike the Guardian, the BBC story claimed the FISA was not targeted at Trump or any of his associates. While “three of Trump’s associates were the subject of the inquiry,” it said the actual warrant was for “electronic records from two Russian banks.” Those warrants were pursued to trace “transfers of money from Russia to the United States.”
So, is the wiretapping Twitler is fuming about today the result of that FISA warrant? Who the hell knows? But if so, as the senior intelligence agent quoted by WaPo says, that would seem to indicate the feds had probable cause that a crime or act of espionage had been committed. Wouldn’t Twitler want to quash that line of speculation?
Well, as someone on Twitter so aptly put it, Trump and crew aren’t masterminds; they’re shitlords. So maybe he really did see the Breitbart article (while feeling all defensive and angry about the Russia issue that just won’t go away) and then went off on a screaming tangent without realizing what a juicy can of worms he was opening. This comment from the WaPo article linked above bolsters that theory:
Trump’s tweets took numerous top White House aides by surprise, according to a second White House official who was not authorized to speak publicly. Saturday was expected to be a “down day, pretty quiet,” this official said, and there was little, if any, attempt to coordinate the president’s message on the wiretapping allegations.
LOL! And now Twitler has moved on to trashing Arnold Schwarzenegger, having addressed the “Nixon/Watergate” business by calling his predecessor a “bad (or sick) guy.”
To summarize, our current president is a lunatic with the attention span of a fruit fly, and DC may or may not be about to erupt into the biggest political scandal in the history of the United States. In other words, it’s a day of the week that ends with “day” in the accursed and benighted Trump Error.