News or views or issues from the USA.
Team Trump are trying to explain the President’s tweets that accused Barack Obama of wiretapping him, but they are digging a deeper hole.
Two senior White House officials suggested on Monday that President Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that President Barack Obama had tapped his telephone was not meant to be taken literally, arguing that Mr. Trump had been referring more broadly to a variety of surveillance efforts during the 2016 campaign when he made the incendiary accusation.
“He doesn’t really think that President Obama went up and tapped his phone personally,” said Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary.
In fact, Mr. Spicer said, when Mr. Trump charged in a Twitter post last weekend that Mr. Obama “had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower,” he was referring generally to surveillance activities during the 2016 race — not to an actual telephone wiretap.
“The president was very clear in his tweet that it was, you know, ‘wiretapping,’” Mr. Spicer said, using his fingers to make a gesture suggesting quotation marks. “That spans a whole host of surveillance types of options.”
So a quote of “wiretapping” doesn’t actually mean wiretapping? One of a number of problems with this attempted explanation is that it doesn’t work for all Trump’s tweets.
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!
Is it legal for a sitting President to be “wire tapping” a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!
I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!
How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!
Trump only used quotation marks in half his tweets.
Another of Trump’s helpers didn’t help with her attempted explanations at what “wiretapping” could mean. Kellyanne Conway has been widely lampooned for suggesting microwave ovens could be used for spying.
“What I can say is there are many ways to surveil each other,” Ms. Conway told the paper. “You can surveil someone through their phones, certainly through their television sets — any number of ways.”
Surveillance can even be carried out with “microwaves that turn into cameras,” she added. “We know this is a fact of modern life.”
There have been many variations on this:
Spicer tried to claim that Trump used more media as sources for his accusations (alarming in itself).
He suggested that Mr. Trump had relied on multiple news reports, including in The New York Times, to make his charge.
“It is interesting how many news outlets reported that this activity was taking place during the 2016 election cycle, and now are wondering where the proof is,” Mr. Spicer said.
But that is being called bunkum too.
Still, several far-right websites, including Infowars, which traffics in conspiracy theories and whose eccentric operator, Alex Jones, has interviewed Mr. Trump, have erroneously asserted that The Times and others had reported that the president was under surveillance.
Not particularly reliable sources for such serious accusations.
Ms. Conway told CNN that in her interview, she had not been referring to the president’s charges when she talked about microwave surveillance, nor could she offer any proof of his allegations.
“I’m not in the job of having evidence,” she said. “That’s what investigations are for.”
She is in the job of speaking for the President, who also appears to be not in the job of having evidence.
Trump seems to have floated the idea of a very serious crime and hopes that investigations will then go and find the evidence.
Has he learned this trick of Winston Peters?