Ever reach the point when some Breaking News Headlines leaves you breathless, as in “with nothing you can think of to say?”  Well, that’s what Trump’s wiretap tweets did for me today.  Sure, I’m happy that after a two or three day break from Trump’s Twitter account, he’s back at it.  Otherwise we would only get Sean Spicer’s filtered Alternate Set of Facts non-accounts of what the hell Trump is up to.  This one, though, just blew my mind. 

It seems as if there are only two explanations for Trump’s allegations that his New York Trump Tower headquarters phone was tapped by Obama.  (Of course!) One is that yes, the nefarious secret Muslim criminal former President illegally placed a listening device on Trump “wires.”  Two is that in accordance with the law, a FISA order was issued to allow the FBI (or CIA) to wiretap his phones.  (Actually, former Obama Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich, offers a third explanation:  “Trump is nuts!” but I’ll leave that one aside until we have further evidence.) 

From the get go, however, why the fuck would Trump announce that his phones were tapped in the first place?  Sure, knowing the orange haired bobbled headed dashboard klown doll, he probably thought this was a great idea, blaming Obama since in right wing nutso world, Obama has a shadow government with hundreds or thousands or millions of Obama moles working to undermine Trump and are the cause of all his Russia troubles.  (Since Trump has trashed Federal workers so often in the past and one of the first of his Executive Orders was to freeze Federal hiring, wouldn’t it seem logical that even non-Obama Federal slug moles might not be exactly all that thrilled with their new boss?)  This “shadow government” theme that Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones and the rest of the nutso right wing alt world have been masturbating to for a couple of weeks now, is bizarre.  But it ties in magically with Trump’s “It’s all Obama’s fault!” theme that he’s been spouting for about a week or so now.  So maybe his Trump Tower Wiretap is simply something he pulled from some right wing nutso media piece?  Maybe.   But who the fuck knows?  (Actually the FBI and CIA know but so far they aren’t talking.)    

Here are the Twitter Tweets at issue:

But moving right along here, now that Trump has announced to the world that his wires/phones were tapped, what happens now?  Does the press simply call it a whacky Trumpism that has no basis in reality?  You know, like his Muslim Travel Ban?  Or does the press do what it’s supposed to do and investigate Trump’s allegations? After all, to accuse a former President of espionage is no small thing and as far as I know unprecedented.  At least in “our” reality.   

But here’s the deal.  Apparently there is some substance to Trump’s wiretapping claim.  Possibly, at least.  There are two sources from the FBI who are claiming that a FISA application for a wiretap at Trump Towers was made in June of last year.  It was denied by the FISA court.  A second application was submitted some time later and was approved.  Such a warrant would only have been granted if the FBI—not the Obama administration—was able to convince a judge that the Trump campaign had credible links to a foreign power.    The right wing nutso’s are claiming that this was a Nazi-style, police state action by Obama and the Obama Administration but it appears that the entire issue centers around the FBI’s investigation over Trump campaign staff’s (Manafort and others) connections to Russia.  Remember, the first FISA application that was denied occurred in June well before the Russian hacking of the DNC was made public and the second one in October just before November’s election.  The FBI, apparently, was actively investigating claims that Trump staffers had connections to Russia long before the current flood of such claims. 

It would have been difficult for federal agents, working within the law, to obtain a wiretap order to target Mr. Trump’s phone conversations.  It would have meant that the Justice Department had gathered sufficient evidence to convince a federal judge that there was probable cause to believe Mr. Trump had committed a serious crime or was an agent of a foreign power, depending on whether it was a criminal investigation or a foreign intelligence one.

The roots of the FISA warrant were themselves odd since they centered on a server in Trump Tower found last Spring to have been communicating with Russia’s Alfa Bank, itself reportedly with strong ties to Vladimir Putin. The FBI reportedly came to conclude that the communications were likely innocuous.   But apparently some time later the FBI reversed themselves, thus the second FISA application that was approved.   

One thing that is painfully clear in all of this is the widely divergent frames that can be put around a set of events. Where Trump’s critics see a legal investigation into foreign influence, he (and presumably his supporters) see a “McCarthyist” abuse of power of the same criminal stripe as the Watergate break-in.

Only one of those interpretations can be right.

What I’m wondering: Trump knew that the FISA wiretap was going to be revealed and gambled that if he could blame Obama for it, it would cast doubt on the legitimacy of the Russian influence claims.   I think Trump still can’t get it through his bobble head that he actually lost the popular vote by some 3 million votes which, to any sane person, would indicate that his gamble in this case  – since more folks didn’t vote for him than voted for Hillary Clinton – will backfire big time.

And once again, Trump seems to have cocked the trigger on his own circular firing squad:  He has just announced that he wants a thorough investigation of the Obama wiretaps of his Trump Tower headquarters!  Really?  He actually wants this?  Fine.  Let’s get at it then!

Look, it’s confusing and scary but the sun will rise tomorrow.  (Unless Trump taps out the nuclear warfare code thinking he’s posting another Twitter tweet!)


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