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Over the weekend, President Donald Trump made yet another bold claim on social media without backing it up. President Trump alleged on Twitter that former President Obama wiretapped his residence at Trump Tower during the election.
According to his Twitter page, Trump claimed in October, Obama ordered that his communications should be intercepted at Trump Tower, and called this wiretapping a “new low,” saying that Obama is a “bad (or sick) guy.” He also compared the situation to Watergate and McCarthyism, and mused that “a good lawyer could make a great case.” All of these allegations were made within hours of each other on Saturday, March 4th. According to the New York Times, a spokesman for Obama denied that he had wiretapped Trump or his campaign. A Press Secretary report issued on March 5th requested that a probe be launched into whether or not Obama abused his power during the election.
According to Fortune, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said that he would “get to the bottom of this,” referring to whether or not Trump’s claims had any ground in reality. Despite this, there has not yet been any evidence cited by the Trump Administration backing up the allegations of a wiretapping. In fact, according to the Washington Post, FBI Director James Comey went as far as to request that the Justice Department formally refute any claims about a wiretapping ordered by Obama. The Justice Department has not yet commented on the issue. However, the law requires significant probable cause that a candidate is working for a foreign government be found before any wiretapping is approved. If these allegations are found to be true, this means that the public must believe that the Obama Administration either discovered that Trump is the agent of a foreign government, or that they illegally tapped Trump Tower.
These allegations come in the midst of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal from all investigations over possible connections between the Trump Administration and Russia. It is possible that Trump’s claim that Obama wiretapped his offices was meant to distract from the rising controversy surrounding Russia. So far, no evidence has proven a connection between Trump and Russia, but investigations are ongoing and are generating significant pressure on the administration.
Conservative news site Breitbart, formerly run by Trump’s close advisor and White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, referred to the allegations as “DeepStateGate.” The site claims that Trump’s claims about Obama’s wiretapping were meant to silence investigations about communications with Russia. Breitbart also referred to all investigations regarding ties with Russia as “unsubstantiated allegations,” and referred to media reporting on the issue as “Democratic media.” They also accused the media of unabashedly reporting on false or exaggerated stories.
Regardless of if these accusations about wiretapping are true, they simply continue an ongoing trend in the Trump Administration: using baseless claims as a means to investigate issues that Trump himself creates. This also is far from the first time Trump attacked Obama without evidence. He previously perpetuated rumors about Obama lacking a birth certificate and not actually being a natural-born American citizen.