Illegal wiretapping by former President Obama is one hell of an accusation. Even with no evidence offered, such an allegation needs to be taken seriously and investigated.
It’s important to note that a President cannot unilaterally order such an intrusion. The Foreign Intelligence Security Act of 1978 (FISA – Public Law 95-511, OCT 25, 1978) sought to ensure that there was appropriate oversight by the legislative and judiciary branches of government, specifically checking executive power over electronic surveillance. That leaves three avenues in need of exploration based on Trump’s claim.
- President Obama had Trump’s communications tapped illegally. If this is the case, the Barrack Obama and any other government personnel involved in illegally intercepting or monitoring Trump’s communications are subject to fine, imprisonment, and civil suit under section 4 and 5 of 18 U.S. Code § 2511. If Trump has evidence to support this claim then he needs to bring it forward immediately.
- Trump’s communications were monitored legally under FISA. If this is the case then Trump is in a very problematic situation. That means that the FBI took evidence to the FISC indicating that Trump might be routinely communicating with foreign entities, either posing an unwitting counterintelligence risk or actively engaged in espionage or something to that effect. The court must have then found the evidence credible and authorized the electronic monitoring in support of the investigation.
- Trump made the allegation off the cuff with no evidence at all. This is the most plausible and most likely scenario. It warrants investigation as well, as it is extraordinarily irresponsible for a sitting President of the US to be offhandedly making such serious allegations without any evidence.
I don’t even know how to properly articulate just how unfathomably stupid it is of our POTUS to have made such public proclamations. This is clearly a baseless, wild flail at taking the public eye off of the ever expanding issue of Trump and certain key officials’ inappropriate relationships with Russia and Vladimir Putin. To that extent, this has largely been unsuccessful. The claim that Obama must have tapped Trump’s phone only indicates that whatever we hear about Trump’s conversations must be credible. We’re barely into the seventh week of his presidency and it seems that Trump and his staff are coming completely unhinged.
I haven’t given much credibility to the 25th Amendment angle that some have proposed, but at this point I think many Republicans would be happy to have this man out of the White House, before he can cause the party any more damage or further strain international relations.
Either way, we need a full investigation into Trump and key advisors’ relationships with the Russians in the run-up to the election. Recall that the Russians DID interfere with the intent of impact the outcome in Trump’s favor. The entire Intelligence Community has been clear on that point. (And Trump’s very overt efforts to de-legitimize the IC after the fact do little to convince people that Trump was unaware of the Russian effort.)
I don’t want to indulge conspiracy theories. I will say that there are enough indicators of impropriety and foreign influence to warrant a special investigator. If that exonerates Trump then fine; we just need to know the Truth.