The War for the Trump Presidency Just Escalated—Bigly

By | 2017-03-04T23:36:57+00:00 March 4th, 2017|
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Oh, you thought Jeff Sessions was a big story, did you? So much for that.

President Trump on Saturday morning dropped a bombshell—several, actually—in his Twitter feed. The president accused his predecessor of wiretapping Trump Tower ahead of last year’s election.

Both the New York Times and the Washington Post published stories with similar headlines, highlighting how Trump made the claims “citing” or “offering” “no evidence.” Well, “citing no evidence” isn’t quite the same as lacking any evidence.

If the claims are true—and it’s hard to believe even this president would level such a charge if he didn’t have some evidence backing it up—the ensuing scandal would be monster-sized.

In fact, some of these claims have been circulating for months—including, even, in the New York Times. Naturally, the Resistance (snicker) is resisting with legalistic dodges. President Obama couldn’t have ordered the NSA or any other agency to tap Trump’s phones, because that would have been illegal and well outside of protocol. Then again, if the FISA court approved the warrant, it must have had a good reason:

But Andrew C. McCarthy at National Review Online last month explained how the Obama Administration could have misused the FISA courts (which, as civil libertarians will tell you, have precious little oversight) in order to spy on Trump’s campaign. McCarthy notes that Trump himself was named in a FISA warrant request in June, which the court reportedly rejected as overbroad. (“Reportedly,” because the proceedings are secret.) But a second warrant application was approved in October.

“While it’s too early to say for sure,” McCarthy wrote, “it may also be an example of what I thought would never actually happen: the government pretextually using its national-security authority to continue a criminal investigation after determining it lacked evidence of crimes.”

So what? We know the U.S. government tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phones. We know the Obama Justice Department tapped the phones of members of the press and prosecuted a few journalists under the Espionage Act. We know the Internal Revenue Service blocked Tea Party groups from receiving nonprofit status or subjected them to overzealous audits.

Nobody disputes those things happened. They simply dispute that President Obama had any direct knowledge or involvement until after the fact.

Was the man even president for eight years?

In retrospect, the brouhaha over Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ encounters with Russia’s ambassador is starting to look like a blunder. The Resistance (snicker) took its shot at Sessions and struck not even a glancing blow. Sessions recused himself from involvement in any Justice Department investigation of the 2016 presidential election. That was a concession to “bad optics” and an overabundance of caution against the “appearance of impropriety”—in short, a mistake.

But it turns out that business with Sessions was just a sideshow. The real story appears to be that the Obama White House tried to sandbag the new administration before Trump even took the oath of office. And that’s not all.

The contours of the campaign to delegitimize Trump already had been coming into view before Saturday’s explosive allegations.

“The narrative that Donald Trump is effectively Putin’s prison wife is an information operation orchestrated by Democratic hands, many of whom served in the Obama administration, sectors of the intelligence community, and much of the American press,” writes Lee Smith in a fascinating Tablet profile of the late Wayne Barrett, a former Village Voice reporter and columnist who became the go-to archivist for journalists delving into Trump’s life and career ahead of the election last year.

“Barrett had Trump on a whole variety of issues, but check the records yourself—up until the day of his death, the day before Trump’s inauguration, there’s nothing on Trump and Putin,” Smith observes. “Does this mean Trump is totally clean? Who knows? But the journalists now clamoring like maniacs about Trump’s ties sure aren’t going to find it. They’re thin-skinned hacks outraged that Trump dared violate the inherent dignity of that most important of American political institutions, the presidential press conference.”

After National Security Advisor Mike Flynn’s resignation last month, the Resistance (snicker) thought it had another administration scalp to take this week with Sessions. Democrats tried to smear Sessions as an unreconstructed racist during his confirmation hearings. Now they’re trying to smear him as a Russian stooge based on two meetings last year with the Russian ambassador. But senators who serve on the Armed Services Committee and other committees related to foreign affairs meet with ambassadors as a matter of course. Yes, even Democrats.

This is pathetic. It seems to be part of the new narrative from the Resistance (snicker) that standard operating procedure—from political staff resignations to meeting with ambassadors—is nefarious if not treasonous.

Politics at its best is the art of persuasion. But it is also the use and sometimes abuse of power.

Democrats want investigations? By God, let them have full investigations. Let’s get to the bottom of what really happened in the months leading up to the election. Let’s find out what the Justice Department and an alphabet-soup of federal agencies were looking for.

Let’s see the FISA application from last June as well as the court order denying it. Let’s see the application the court approved in October. What was the difference? Let’s learn the names of the judges who reviewed the applications, as well as the names of the Obama Administration lawyers who sought the warrants.

Who was running the show? Who else was the administration spying on? Never mind what President Obama knew. What did his subordinates know and when did they know it? Just because they’re out of the government now doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be held to account for their abuses while in power.

It may turn out that the 2016 election was hacked after all—just not by the Russians.

About the Author:

Ben Boychuk
Ben Boychuk is managing editor of American Greatness. He is a regular columnist for the Sacramento Bee, a former weekly syndicated columnist with Tribune Media, and a veteran of several publications, including Investor's Business Daily and the Claremont Review of Books. He lives in California.