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Team Trump are trying to explain the President’s tweets that accused Barack Obama of wiretapping him, but they are digging a deeper hole.

NY Times: Using Air Quotes, White House Walks Back ‘Wiretap’ Talk

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:

MicrowaveEspionage

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?

53 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  March 15, 2017

    The latest helpful & informative tweets from THE DONALD OF THE UNITED STATES’s Fox-informed Twitter Account :


    [45th POTUS, 1st DOTUS]
    ……..
    Meeting w/ Washington, D.C. ‪@MayorBowser‬ and Metro GM Paul Wiedefeld about incoming winter storm preparations here in D.C. Everyone be safe! [With pic, behind desk, 3 men sitting other side, & Don looking interested & intelligent]
    ……..

    ……..

    ……..

    ……..

    ……..

    [ It’s all starting to get up & running by the sound of it. Nothing further to add. 😇 Ed.]
    ……..
    More Trump tweets may possibly be found here when Melania has a headache: https://mobile.twitter.com/realdonaldtrump
    ……
    Wed 15 Mar 2017. 0639 hours

    • Gezza

       /  March 15, 2017

      Who’s got it in for Don getting his Cabinet up & running? 😡

      • Missy

         /  March 15, 2017

        Same person that has it in for Brexit and Scotland Independence (x2)!

        • Gezza

           /  March 15, 2017

          Hate it when someone’s so offended they go away & come back again to let you know how much 😡

    • Pete Kane

       /  March 15, 2017

      Napolitano: Obama Admin Used British GCHQ To Spy On Trump During Campaign
      http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2017/03/14/napolitano_obama_admin_used_british_intel_service_to_spy_on_trump_during_campaign.html
      Some validity in this?

      • Gezza

         /  March 15, 2017

        No names. Un-named sources. Sounds pretty far-fetched. I note even the interviewer says “unbelievable”.

        Waiting for Bj to give an informed analysis.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  March 15, 2017

          Spicer is being disingenuous. Nobody, surely, would think that Obama personally did the tapping. If I hear that X is building a house, I take it that X is paying someone to do it, unless X is a builder.

          It doesn’t matter how Spicer tries to get around it, the fact is that DT said that he had been wiretapped, and 100/100 people would think that that meant listening to phone calls.

          • Gezza

             /  March 15, 2017

            I’m cutting Sean a lot of slack these days Kitty. I don’t think he can keep doing the job much longer. You can see the desperation & pain in his eyes when he has to keep going out there and telling the Press Trump’s tweets & utterances aren’t as stupid as they might look & what he really means.

            I think he’s probably a reasonably intelligent fellow & his loyalty’s unquestionable, but he knows his boss talks shit half the time & he can’t stop him, & he probably needs a rest.

            It doesn’t bother Kellyanne so much because she’s used to babbling on with utter bollocks herself.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  March 15, 2017

              She is the stereotypical dumb blonde and gives the impression that she didn’t get the job because she was brilliantly well qualified (not that I am suggesting that she did the age-old way, just by gazing adoringly at DT, fluttering her false eyelashes and agreeing with everything he says)

              If SS had integrity, he’d tell DT to put his job where the sergeant put the pudding and find someone else to be a catspaw.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  March 15, 2017

              Only HALF the time ???

          • Joe Bloggs

             /  March 16, 2017

            Kitty you suggest that “Nobody, surely, would think that Obama personally did the tapping” and draw on the analogy of building a house.

            I’d suggest that many would think that Obama may not have personally monitored conversations by himself, but that he at least personally ordered the surveillance by virtue of occupying the office of POTUS…

            You don’t have to go any further than some of the comments on this blogsite made by the righties who support trump to see that thinking process in action.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  March 16, 2017

              Spicer seems to be back-pedalling by saying or implying that they didn’t say that Obama did the DIY himself, but that’s disingenuous.

        • PDB

           /  March 15, 2017

          Gezza: “Sounds pretty far-fetched.”

          Wasn’t all the NZ left wingers banging on about exactly the same thing regarding five eyes? That NZ doesn’t technically spy on its citizens but other five eye allies do on our behalf?

          • Gezza

             /  March 15, 2017

            Yup. It’s a bit disconcerting, but I didn’t think GCSB was getting NSA or one of the others to spy on Winston Peters.

          • Anonymous Coward

             /  March 15, 2017

            And every search of the data by anyone in 5EYES is conducted with Peter Theils software.

        • Pete Kane

           /  March 15, 2017

          If you get a chance G (or Weather Deprived North Welly Boy) check the first few minutes of this .

          • Gezza

             /  March 15, 2017

            Brilliant stuff Pete. Way better than Bourne Identity movie series & Person Of Interest tv series. Starting to wonder if Skynet has arrived & AI is at work ?

            • Gezza

               /  March 15, 2017

              Lionel gets really excited about it all, doesn’t he? 😃

        • No paper trail? Two separate countries involved? I would not want my future to be left in the hands of perfidious Anglia if I were POTUS, or ex-POTUS . Would you?

          • Pete Kane

             /  March 15, 2017

            Well not if I was that POTUS BJ. (And again great article, yesterday, on the Maz. Report – BTW when was that original PG Post?).

            • Peter Kane. It was sent out in 1954 to all homes in NZ. A reflective piece about the 50’s times that shows that what comes around goes around. We love our kids and grandkids but they still do the same sort of things we did! That is proof to me that they have not listened, and are really no more intelligent than we were!

          • Pete Kane

             /  March 15, 2017

            Sorry, “this POTUS”.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  March 15, 2017

              It’s not the same thing with 5 Eyes. If someone said that John Key was tapping their phone line, while I wouldn’t think that he’d done the technical stuff, I would understand the person to be saying that he had ordered it. Naming names is quite serious and damaging.

  2. Joe Bloggs

     /  March 15, 2017

    Independent sources of information that team trump has tried to delegitimise:

    – federal judges
    – media
    – intelligence agencies
    – Bureau of Labor Statistics
    – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
    – and now the Congressional Budget Office

    Presumably making America great again does not entail emulating the worst excesses of the Vietnam era or the Nixon administration. Yet this is what the Trump White House is pushing toward: A return to a situation where there is no independent, nonpartisan arbiter for budget bills, and the president’s analysis has to be taken as granted. Given the White House’s difficulty with truthfulness, this is a questionable proposition.

    CBO is just one front in the war on analysis. Intelligence is another. Trump spent months disputing the consensus judgment of the U.S. intelligence community about Russia’s role in hacks related to the election. He infamously speculated the perpetrator could have been a “guy sitting on their bed who weighs 400 pounds.” He later tweeted, “Unless you catch ‘hackers’ in the act, it is very hard to determine who was doing the hacking.” (Actual experts disputed this.) Trump later said he accepted the judgment, but has maintained a skepticism about intelligence conclusions. The result is the same: undermining the role of independent analysis within the government.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/03/trumps-war-on-independent-analysis/519468/

    The White House’s disdain for facts has become such a given that team trump started eroding the findings of the Congressional Budget Office before the CBO had even completed its analysis of trumpycare. Pathetic. Such losers.

  3. Joe Bloggs

     /  March 15, 2017

    The Atlantic on KellyAnne Conway:

    She’s figured out that she doesn’t need to win the argument. All she has to do is craft a semi-plausible (if not entirely coherent) counternarrative, so that those who don’t want to look past the facade of Trump’s Potemkin village don’t have to.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/04/kellyannes-alternative-universe/517821/

    I hadn’t read of team trump described as a Potemkin Village before but it’s a productive analogy:

    a pretentiously showy or imposing façade intended to mask or divert attention from an embarrassing or shabby fact or condition. Named after Prince Potëmkin, who had villages of cardboard constructed for Catherine II’s visit to the Ukraine and the Crimea in 1787.

  4. Kitty Catkin

     /  March 15, 2017

    Alas, the original Potemkin Village is almost certainly a myth (apart from anything else, it would have been all but impossible to do then (or even now) with cardboard-imagine the size of the sheets needed, and what would happen if it rained)

    Prince Potemkin was a real person, of course.

    • Joe Bloggs

       /  March 16, 2017

      A myth based on a reasonable dose of reality though Kitty.

      The Russian academic Aleksandr Panchenko called these stories about Potemkin villages a “cultural myth.” and documented how hostile rumors of false façades erected by Potemkin actually emerged several months before Catherine and her party departed Petersburg. Panchenko went on the describe how Potemkin did in fact decorate the city and settlements, but never hid the fact that they were decorations, not at least to Catherine.

      Then there was the resurgence of Potemkin Villages in the early 1920’s after the Russian Revolution (a hundred years ago on Tuesday this week Tsar Nicholas stepped down!) when the Soviets came up with the system of receiving foreign visitors that centered around model institutions.

      So you get a whole spectacle of enlivenment that was refracted through geopolitics, and turned into mythic proportions, because that top-down political stage-crafting was lavishly enacted on a regular basis throughout the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.

      And now again in 21st century America.

      And, yes, Grigorii Potemkin was real – a great favourite of Catherine II, so much so that he became her lover and was rumoured to have married Catherine in a morganatic marriage. Rumour also has it that Catherine was so taken (forgive the pun) by Potemkin that she had a plaster cast made of his penis, that was kept in the Hermitage Museum for years.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  March 16, 2017

        Yes, I did know all that, except for the plaster-cast. I have read bios of Catherine and a reasonable amount of Russian History, even taking courses in it at University and having a partner who lectured on it. My late husband was also a Russophile, so I have been steeped in it for a long time (you should see one of the bookcases here, virtually full of books on Russian history and politics)

        My husband was Russian Orthodox and I can see 11 icons in this room. He knew a lot of Russians & so did I. I will never understand some of the old ones who pined after the good old days with Uncle Joe. A very old man whom we knew was a cadet in the last Tsar’s army as a young lad. If I say any more about people we knew, Blazer will call me a liar, so I won’t give him the pleasure.

        But it would have been a physical impossibilty to make a village of cardboard then-and now, probably.

        • Anonymous Coward

           /  March 16, 2017

          “There were villages of canvas and pasteboard, vil­lages intended to transform a visual desert into a flowering landscape for the eyes of Her Imperial Majesty. But was it a whole city which that cunning minis­ter was supposed to have produced?”

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  March 16, 2017

            No, villages. Let’s assume that the villages happened and the Empress didn’t realise that they weren’t real. It’s even more difficult to believe that she would have failed to notice that there was a city that hadn’t been there before-or that it wasn’t real.

            • Anonymous Coward

               /  March 16, 2017

              That’s there to get you away from the notion of “cardboard’.

          • Nelly Smickers

             /  March 16, 2017

            A google search shows *cardboard cities* have even been built in more recent times…..as late as WW11 in fact ❗

            Evidence starts @ ’16min’ mark….

            • Anonymous Coward

               /  March 16, 2017

              Putin’s Russia and RT are a Potemkin Village.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  March 16, 2017

              Cardboard and pasteboard are synonyms; cardboard has taken over from pasteboard as the usual word, but they originally meant the same thing. It’s like wrong and incorrect or spider and arachnid.

  5. Kitty Catkin

     /  March 15, 2017

    The 28,000 job figure is-how surprising-misleading. They are on the Keystone Konstruction (well, calling something Keystone’s asking for it) and are temporary, part-time and the number of ‘job years’ is a fraction of 28,000. I think that the Washington Post said that if these jobs were done as job years, they would be the equivalent of 3900 jobs. Trump is playing with words again.

  6. Nelly Smickers

     /  March 15, 2017

    *CNN* are reporting that someone has leaked *DOTUS’s Tax Return* for 2005….it shows tax of $38 MILLION being paid on an income of about $150 MILLION ❗

    That should assist all those *sniveling lefty retards* to PTFHI

    • PDB

       /  March 15, 2017

      Was promising to be a big reveal but was really a big let down……….without more detailed information and context by seeing other returns for a number of years around that time.

      • Anonymous Coward

         /  March 15, 2017

        The bulk of it, $31 million is “alternative minimum tax. which is a tax that he has said he wants to abolish.

        • PDB

           /  March 15, 2017

          I don’t think that is much of a revelation as to abolish that particular tax was always going to favour the wealthy.

          Again you’d need to see a reasonably long sequence of yearly tax returns in order to draw any conclusion as to his overall tax paying record.

          • Nelly Smickers

             /  March 15, 2017

            Oh come on you’se guys…who *cares* about his Tax Returns ❓

            Trumpy is a *billionaire businessman*, he would have *paid whatever taxes* he was lawfully required to by the IRS. I have no more desire to see *The Donald’s* tax returns than I would have for you to see Wayne’s…. Get over it ❗

            *DOTUS* has one mission in life…. to *MASA* and *MAGA*

            *Go The Donald* – you good thang 😄

            • PDB

               /  March 15, 2017

              Do you actually read what you write? I wouldn’t recommend it if you don’t…….

            • Nelly Smickers

               /  March 15, 2017

              Well…Wayne normally has a quik proof-read if he’s here PDB. You got a problem with that ?

            • PDB

               /  March 15, 2017

              He can read?

            • PDB

               /  March 15, 2017

    • Pete Kane

       /  March 15, 2017

      Exclusive Look At President Trump’s 2005 Tax Return | Rachel Maddow | MSNBC

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  March 15, 2017

        Pants, Wayne can’t read-not properly.

        Trump’s son shouldn’t have gloated about how his father paying that much less tax than he should have showed that he was smart.

        Smart-arsed, yes, mean, yes, not very honest, yes. That routine audit that he mentioned ages ago-he’d release his tax info when it was finished-is taking a very long time.

    • Joe Bloggs

       /  March 16, 2017

      That’s a rather superficial summary of trump’s 2005 tax summary Nelly. So let’s put some context around your sniffy simplification:

      The little bit that has been “leaked” reveals that trump paid only US$5.3m in regular federal income tax

      So about 85% of what he paid the IRS was incurred due to ‘alternative minimum tax’ and in the run-up to November’s election, trump pledged to eliminate the AMT altogether, meaning he campaigned for a change in the tax law that would have personally benefited him by US$31m. Without the AMT, trump would have paid a lower tax rate in 2005 than the poorest half of Americans.

      Now we know that his campaign pledge about abolishing the AMT was fuelled purely by self-interest.

      Then there’s trumps refusal to reveal his tax filings, and his lies that he was unable to because the IRS was auditing him. Do you remember the IRS saying that the returns could be released even though an audit was being conducted?

      Then one has to ask – if trump is so successful as to make $140m a year, why does he refuse to release all his tax returns? 2005 was the first full tax year that income from The Apprentice would have been accounted for. It also may have been the first year that his previous losses from bankruptcies, etc. would have been exhausted. Does 2005 represent an anomaly?

      Then there’s the possibility that trump leaked the return himself as a smoke-and-mirrors diversionary tactic to take some of the heat off his trumped up claims about Obama and wiretaps. After all trump has a long past history of personally calling the journalist that received the tax return pages in the mail:

      Less than a year ago, however, Trump himself called Johnston at his home in Rochester, New York, to berate the 68-year-old Pulitzer winner about a series of questions he had submitted for the property developer while working on an article about Trump’s troubling financial dealings.

      “I just want you to know that if I don’t like the way you write it, I’m gonna sue you,” Trump said in the call on 27 April 2016, according to Johnston. When reminded that, as a public figure, Trump would need to prove Johnston had deliberately lied, he said: “I don’t care, I’ll sue you anyway,” before hanging up.

      And this was only the latest in a series of conversations from a decades-old acquaintance between the two men that had taught Trump to take Johnston very seriously. In a 1992 book, Johnston became the first journalist to reveal that while living luxuriously, Trump paid no federal income tax in 1978 or 1979 – and probably for several more years – by legally claiming millions of dollars in write-downs.

      https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/15/david-cay-johnston-trump-tax-return-interview

      This all still struggles to pass any reasonable sniff test.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  March 16, 2017

        He somehow seems to have made a loss. No doubt his son would also claim that this ‘loss’ was a sign of dad’s cleverness-and having a good (in one sense) accountant.

        • Blazer

           /  March 16, 2017

          Trump is a wealthy man.Wealthy people have disdain for paying tax…that is for the ‘little people’,the debt slaves,thats why they create tax havens all around the world.Even Aotearoa became one,thanks John Key,your Wall St masters will look after you.

  7. Blazer

     /  March 16, 2017

    Trump must have leaked it himself…..selective year.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  March 16, 2017

      Well, that was suggested by the man on the news, but it didn’t occur to me that the year was carefully selected. Why 2005 and not a more recent one ? He and you could well be right. You must be. Then Trump can say that it’s old-more than a decade ago-which is true. Thus he has the info for all to see but can dismiss it….his accountantant is probably behind this. Clever you !

      Now you need to say something nice about me sometime.

  8. Perhaps it was hacked from the IRS by a Democratic aligned public servant who really wanted Hilary to rule? I have seen enough over the last 10 years to make me convinced that once again the US people made the right choice for President! But then I am prejudiced against the morals of the Clinton clan, aren’t you?