Two Allegations, No Evidence

Reporting on Trump’s allegations of wiretapping, the BBC says:

The Republican president, who faces intense scrutiny over alleged Russian interference in support of his presidential bid, made the claims in a series of tweets on Saturday.

He offered no evidence to support his allegation that phones at Trump Tower were tapped last year.

Perhaps the BBC could have also mentioned that there is no evidence to support the allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election, either. So we’re looking at two sets of allegations, neither of which have been backed up by evidence.

But it’s interesting to look at the allegations in each case. When Russia was accused of “hacking” the 2016 election a lot of people asked, quite reasonably, “What exactly do you mean by that?” Nobody came forward and gave a clear answer to this question. Two or three months after the allegations were first aired I still don’t know what, specifically, the Russians are supposed to have done. That’s why Trump’s reaction has largely been “WTF are you on about?” His opponents attacked Flynn who got fired on the spot, probably for bullshitting his management rather than breaking any laws or ethical codes. They’ve had another go against Sessions, with the media spinning like fury to portray the Attorney General as having lied under oath. As Streetwise Professor explains, he did no such thing:

The entire Sessions imbroglio smacks of scumbag lawyer tactics. The Unfunny Clown, Senator Al Franken, asked (in a convoluted way) a very narrow question (which was related to an even narrower written question in a set of interrogatories) about Session’s interactions with the Russians. Sessions answered the question–which was not an unconditional query about contacts with the Russians, but which related to very specific types of contacts and discussions. Franken and the Democrats then accused Sessions of perjury because the Senator (and then-Attorney General designate) had met with the Russian ambassador to the US on two occasions. Asking a narrow question, and then claiming the answer was a false response to a broader question (that was not asked) is a sleazy lawyer trick.

It is a certainty that were there any hard evidence of allegations of Russian influence in the 2016 election and links between Trump and the Russian government they’d have been plastered all over every news channel and newspaper long ago. As things stand they haven’t even been able to get the allegations properly specified. This is why Trump has been able to impudently wave them away, although the daily media storm will certainly be hampering his ability to do his job.

Perhaps Trump thought that if this is the way things were going to carry on in Washington then he’d sling some mud of his own. Perhaps he pulled the allegations of Obama wiretapping him out of his arse, but even if that is true he has at least had the brains to accuse his opponents of something specific and verifiable, rather than woolly concepts such as “influence” and “possible links”.

And despite the lack of evidence, the reactions themselves are telling a story. As SWP notes in the same post:

I will just mention one fact that strongly supports the veracity of Trump’s allegation: namely, the very narrow–and lawyerly–“denials” emanating from the Obama camp.

Obama and his surrogates–notably the slug (or is he a cockroach?) Ben Rhodes–harrumph that Obama could not unilaterally order electronic surveillance. Well, yes, it is the case that Obama did not personally issue the order: the FISA court did so. But even if that is literally correct, it is also true that the FISA court would not unilaterally issue such an order: it would only do so in response to a request from the executive branch. Thus, Obama is clearly implicated even if he did not issue the order. He could have ordered his subordinates to make the request to the court, or could have approved a subordinate’s request to seek an order. Maybe he merely hinted, a la Henry II–“will no one rid me of this turbulent candidate?” (And “turbulent” is a good adjective to apply to Trump.) But regardless, there is no way that such a request to the court in such a fraught and weighty matter would have proceeded without Obama’s acquiescence.

And from the BBC:

FBI director James Comey has rejected Donald Trump’s claim that his predecessor, Barack Obama, ordered a wiretap of his phone before he was elected US president, US media say.

Mr Comey reportedly asked the US justice department (DOJ) to publicly reject Saturday’s allegation, according to the New York Times and NBC.

He is said to have asked for this because the allegation falsely insinuated that the FBI broke the law.

The DOJ has not commented.

US media quoted officials as saying that Mr Comey believed there was no evidence to support Mr Trump’s allegation.

From an FBI director this is a startling rebuke of a sitting president and Mr Comey will be under pressure from Democrats to voice it publicly, the BBC’s Nick Bryant reports from Washington.

The mainstream media is reporting unnamed “officials” relaying the words of the FBI director which amount to a “startling rebuke” of Trump. If the allegations are untrue, why all the cloak-and-dagger stuff?

Ask yourself, who seems to be responding with the more convincing demeanour: those accused of having “ties” with Russia, or those accused of illegally wiretapping Trump?


12 thoughts on “Two Allegations, No Evidence

  1. By the way, does this imbroglio explain the Russia mania that has seized the Dems?

    Obama: Now guys, I want you to spy on Trump.

    Spy guys: But what if we are caught, Mr President?

    Obama: We say it was the Russkis we were interested in, which is clearly legit.

    Spy guys: Brilliant, Mr President. The sun truly does shine out of your ass.

  2. It always struck me as odd that the Russians made the terrible mistake of hacking the election so Trump won (whatever that hacking was: I agree it has never been adequately defined, let alone proved) and yet the Reds didn’t hack it enough to give him the popular vote. Unless of course they are so incredibly clever that they knew doing so would cause large groups of disaffected and unintelligent yoofs to gang up and smash Starbucks’ windows, thus causing the whole edifice of US government to wobble. Not fall, mind you, because that would possibly bring Killary back into play but this way would give Obumble some secret clout behind the scenes so he could push for more freedoms for many more muslim immigrants. Hmm…

    Yes, I can see now this is very clever stuff indeed, Mr Putin.

    Thank goodness the BBQ is on to it like a flash. Gosh, I’m thankful our talented opinionators are so on the ball.

  3. Watcher, I generally believe that Putin’s ideal outcome from the election was Hillary just scraping over the line, weakened by a not very conclusive result. Trump was not a desired outcome. He had far more leverage over the Clinton’s and a number of other senior dems than he ever will have with Trump.

    The Russians did it is largely the dems thinking Trump is just as much in Putin’s pocket as they are.

  4. The difference being some agency in the Federal Government did indeed record telephone conversations between the Russians and some of Trump’s staff. This is an undisputed fact. Who ordered it, why did they do it, and who authorized it remain serious open questions. I would note that none of the recorded conversations had anything particularly unsettling in them. This appears to be a unanimous conclusion.

    As to the Russian hack, there is a reason there are no specifics. No one has any idea if it really happened, what it did if anything, or if the Russians were even involved. The only thing we know is that someone released to WikiLeaks a bunch of Hillary’s and the DNC’s e-mails. Where I would note their own words made them look bad. “My true nature was exposed, it’s a hack!”

  5. There seems ample evidence that Obama’s White House authorized “wiretapping” of Trump during the election. In fact that surveillance was common knowledge spoken about at the time by MSM. Mark Levin proves the point with quote after quote from MSM including left wing media like New York Times confirming it – the fact of the tapping was being used at the time as evidence that Trump was untrustworthy as a candidate (see below). In fact we know thanks to Wikileaks, Edward Snowden etc that Obama was spying on millions of American citizens so he has “form”. Its only now that Trump has accused Obama personally of authorizing it that Obama is pretending to know nothing about it despite the public media sources and reports from last year that it was happening and involved the White House. “I did not authorize any wiretapping” says Obama – Of course this is a non denial – a certain Richard Millhouse Nixon did not authorize the Watergate break in either. He was done for covering it up. See the similarity and why Trump claims it is reminiscent of Watergate?

    BTW it is interesting that even now MSN in its desire to crush Trump is ignoring the fact that they themselves were reporting this very surveillance LAST YEAR! Trump will have the last laugh on this Trey Gowdy today confirmed there will be a “paper trail” confirming what happened, when and who knew.

    Levin’s interview citing the many MSM reports from last year in evidence:

  6. Well, it looks pretty certain that Russian hackers obtained Hillary’s mails and leaked them, to the detriment of her result. They did not (notably) leak Donald’s emails (whether they had them or not we don’t know).

    So Russians used electronic means to interfere in the election? Check.

    Has a three-letter agency ever listened in on Trump’s communications? Come on, it would be amazing if they have not. Legally or illegally, officially or unofficially. The only question is whether Obama knew, authorised, and in particular made use of the information gained to interfere in the election. As Snopes might say, the story has to be at least partly true.

  7. Well, it looks pretty certain that Russian hackers obtained Hillary’s mails and leaked them, to the detriment of her result.

    No it doesn’t. It looks as though every man and his dog potentially accessed the unsecured server which she kept in her bathroom, and there is every reason to suppose the Russians helped themselves along with everyone else. As for the rest of the emails, they were most likely passed to Wikileaks by a pissed-off Sanders staffer. Where is the evidence that Russia “hacked” anything and then leaked what they found, and that what was leaked cost her the election?

  8. “I would note that none of the recorded conversations had anything particularly unsettling in them.”

    Which makes you wonder if Trump has been weak in not defending Flynn, if you were in his inner circle you might now think twice about sticking your neck out for him.

  9. @TimN,

    Loath as I am to trust an American TLA’s version of events, that’s what they (publicly) think. Perhaps that doesn’t pass as evidence, but it’s at least smoke, and plausible smoke.

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