If Barack Obama accused President George W. Bush of engaging in illegal wiretapping and surveillance of his presidential campaign and his home in Chicago without evidence to support it, Republicans and conservatives would be apoplectic, demanding the immediate beginning of impeachment hearings.
Why does Trump get a pass? Yesterday, FBI Director James Comey told anybody watching, that Donald Trump’s wiretapping accusations against President Obama over Trump Tower are garbage. Comey’s rebuttal joins in with members of the House Intelligence Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee who also say Trump’s claims have no merit.
As somebody who was part of the ‘Never Trump’ movement, my attitude towards him is not reflexively in opposition the way it is with some people. I have defended where it I felt it was merited and give him credit where it is due (e.g. the Keystone Pipeline and Neil Gorsuch nomination). Being reflexively opposed to anything Trump does or waving off the good to focus entirely on the bad is counterproductive.
That said, the knee-jerking defense of Trump is worse than the criticism. The continuing apologia for Trump over his wiretapping allegations is a perfect example. He made specific accusations about Trump Tower and his phones. His personal accusations against President Obama only add to the irresponsibility. After the hearings yesterday I had people telling me Trump’s claims were “accurate” if not “precise.” The reason? If somebody in the Trump campaign was surveilled in any way by law enforcement last year, it “confirms” what Trump said.
Others have pointed to a NY Times article from January with the word “wiretapped” in the title saying, “See? The NY Times even reported it!” That’s all well and good until you point out the article doesn’t mention Trump Tower or anything related to Trump’s claims. There is nothing to substantiate what he said and to parse his tweets to say they are “accurate” if not “precise” is the kind of pretzel logic associated with sycophants, not rational people. It’s like me saying “I’m driving to Philadelphia,” only to find I drove to Baltimore. “Well, I drove north so what I said was accurate if not precise!” Do you see how absurd this sounds?
When you add in Team Trump’s ridiculous attempt to cover for Trump’s wild accusations with another – that Great Britain spied on Trump at the request of Barack Obama – it reaches the height of absurdity. John Schindler writes the following in The Observer:
That unfounded accusation deserved the stern, unprecedented rebuke it got from our British spy “cousins,” which was backed up by the deputy director of the National Security Agency, Rick Ledgett. In a remarkable interview Ledgett described the allegation as “arrant nonsense…just crazy” while the whole idea demonstrated “a complete lack of understanding in how the relationship works” between NSA and GCHQ, its British counterpart. Furthermore, he went on, “It would be epically stupid” for GCHQ to have broken numerous laws to meddle in American politics.
No senior official of our Intelligence Community has ever spoken publicly in this fashion, implying the White House is dishonest and unhinged—but then, we’ve never had a commander-in-chief declare open war on our spies, terming them “very anti-American” and comparing them to Nazis. Ledgett’s candor may have something to do with the fact that he is retiring next month after a 40-year career in the spy business and feels free to “speak truth to power” as they say in the movies.
There has to be a time when Republicans and conservatives say, “Enough is enough.” Assuaging the feelings of a fraction of the Republican electorate and fearing to be the subject of a Trump tweetstorm is not worth pissing away the entire conservative movement. Trump could be an effective President. The problem is, he still thinks he is the host of ‘The Apprentice.’ The British government is not Rosie O’Donnell. There are real issues at stake. Trump is not making a choice between Gary Busey or Jose Canseco to see which one would be the better CEO of a company that doesn’t exist.
Republicans and conservatives would do well to call Trump out when he’s behaving like a reality TV show host and not the President of the United States of America.