(Note: I began to write this post about ten minutes after Trump issued his tweets. I've rewritten and expanded this piece since its original publication.)
As the sun rose, once more the nation plunged into madness. In a flurry
of angry tweets, Donald Trump accused Barack Obama of wiretapping his (Trump's) phones
Donald Trump has accused Barack Obama of “wire tapping” his offices in New York City before the presidential election in November last year, claiming the former president had overseen a “Nixon/Watergate”-style intervention.
Launching a series of tweets at 5.35am eastern time on Saturday morning, the US president said: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”
He followed up that initial tweet with a string of others in the following 30 minutes that claimed Obama had defied a court rejection to tap his office, and invited a “good lawyer” to make a case against the alleged process.
The obvious questions: Is this a paranoid outburst based on some poorly-sourced story in the right-wing press? Or did Trump receive actual intelligence to this effect? If the latter, has he accurately portrayed what he was told?
There are other possibilities: Maybe Trump has gone completely mad. Maybe Trump is just lying. Maybe there is a plot afoot to frame Obama.
The more I ponder that final theory, the more intriguing it seems.
The suggestion has been made that Trump's tweetstorm was a reaction to this Brietbart story
, which you really ought to read if you're in the market for a laughable, evidence-free conspiracy theory. But that particular exercise in inanity doesn't really explain why Donnie tweeted what he tweeted.
Right now, let's stick with the theory that Trump received word of something that the previous administration actually did.
The allegation that Obama sought a court order before tapping Trump Tower is really an admission that the intent was to proceed legally. Of course, the president himself doesn't order a tap: The FBI does. It may have been that the initial request was deemed overly broad, and that the court granted a second request which was more narrowly defined. That sort of thing has certainly happened before.
If so, then I fail to comprehend what the tappers did wrong, except insofar as their actions were too little, too late.
I appreciated one TPM reader's witty observation
IMPEACH OBAMA NOW!
BTW, if your private server in Trump Tower is communicating with Russian banks, you should expect a FISA warrant.
Yesterday, Rachel Maddow noted that the Flynn affair indicated that the FBI sought a FISA warrant to eavesdrop on "U.S. persons." If the warrant covered Kislyak's phone, it probably covered other
phones. This DU thread
notes several other indicators that the FISA court approved taps on Team Trump -- for example, Louise Mensch so reported all the way back in November
, and the Guardian
made a similar claim in January.
However, no previous story has alleged that Trump himself
For weeks now, I've been warning people that the commonly-heard "Trump versus the intelligence community" framework is simplistic and misleading: There is a pro
-Trump faction within our intelligence community. Unfortunately, I seem to be the only one who has noticed its existence. True, Louise Mensch has argued that the pro-Trump coterie in the NY branch of the FBI are actually Russian moles -- a rather fanciful suggestion, in my view. Instead of going down that road, I would suggest taking a hard look at Breitbart, which has always been a far "spookier" operation than most people comprehend.
For those curious enough to do further research, here are some suggested Google searches:
1. MZM and Mantech.
2. Mantech and Breitbart
. (You'll be amazed to see how thoroughly Breitbart has covered every movement and twitch of a company that normally would be of no interest to most readers.)
3. HB Gary and Breitbart.
4. Palantir and HBGary.
5. Palantir and Michael Flynn
Check out my earlier posts which mention those keywords. At the time, those posts seemed unrelated, but the links are now apparent -- and everything plugs into Breitbart.
Brietbart has always
been spookier than the Winchester Mystery House. Never forget that.
Serious Trumpgate researchers will want to snatch up a couple of important new reports which were just uploaded to Google Documents.
1. Scott Dworkin's analysis of the Steele dossier
originally appeared (in germinal form) on Democratic Underground. This is good stuff. Really
good. There are still a few die-hard dolts out there who continue to scoff at the dossier. To such people I say: Study Dworkin's work
Christopher Steele is one of the heroes of our time.
2. This in-depth detailed report
(by someone calling himself "Postimus Maximus") is the closest thing we have right now to a book-length treatment of Donniegate. All of the players are there; the timelines are clear and concise. If you're like me, you've privately fretted that this scandal is too complicated, has too many moving parts. This document will make everything clear.
Google has already taken this document down once, and may do so again. So snap it up now
The report ends with some suggested sources for those who want to follow the latest developments. Be warned: Some of these twitter feeds take us deep into "strange bedfellows" territory. An anti-Trumper with Spookworld ties can provide much useful information, but you must understand going in that you're not dealing with the kind of people who normally follow Think Progress.
The following are people I advise following on twitter for early Trump-Russia related news. They are also the source of some of the connections and stories in this doc. Though as always I provided the news-source following each link). Disclaimer: I don’t claim everything they say is correct or reflect my personal thoughts.
The Alt Left. This Vanity Fair piece
I made an account to provide updates, if you’d prefer to keep track that way:
reminds us that there is plenty of rotten fruit on the left side of the basket. Most people don't understand that Alexander Dugin -- the seminal theoretician of the new fascist resurgence -- has advocated the manipulation of both the left and
the right in order to render the United States ungovernable. Pushing the extremes weakens the center.
The alt-left can’t match that for strength, malignancy, or tentacled reach, but its dude-bros and “purity progressives” exert a powerful reality-distortion field online and foster factionalism on the lib-left. Its outlets include not only Jacobin but also the Intercept, one of whose co-founders is the inexhaustible Glenn Greenwald, lawyer, author, journalist, and crucial conduit for Edward Snowden’s stolen N.S.A. data to The Guardian; Web sites such as Truthdig, Consortiumnews, and Naked Capitalism; and anomalous apostates such as Mickey Kaus, a former contributor to liberal percolators of ideas and opinions such as Washington Monthly, the New Republic, Harper’s, and Slate, who migrated sideways and down to the right-wing Daily Caller, did a temporary hitch as a columnist for the Breitbart bughouse in 2016, and serves as a tweeting defender of Trump’s proposed wall.
Other busy beavers on Twitter include Michael Tracey, Freddie deBoer, Mark Ames, Connor Kilpatrick (a Jacobin contributor), Jeremy Scahill (journalist and Intercept co-founder), and similar fun guys. A Tumblr site devoted to “Trumpian Leftism” captures the intellectual flavor of their temperaments.
One of the alt-left’s political darlings is Tulsi Gabbard, a progressive congresswoman from Hawaii who met with then president-elect Donald Trump in Trump Tower and was rumored to be under consideration for a Cabinet position, and its quixotic preacher-man and noble leper is Cornel West, once an orator at every social-justice convocation who got so uncoiled by his rancorous contempt for Obama and cast adrift into the hazy fringes of the alt-left—see Michael Eric Dyson’s definitive autopsy, “The Ghost of Cornel West,” the New Republic, April 19, 2015—that in 2016 he supported the Green Party candidacy of Jill Stein, that stellar mind.
I've added paragraph breaks to aid readability. We need much, much more research along these lines -- but at the same time, we need subtlety and nuance. I remain a great fan of Consortiumnews and an occasional reader of Jacobin. In former times, I had a very high opinion of Greenwald, and one of these days I would like
to like him again. I myself have been a harsh critic of both Obama and Hillary from the left. I also understand the need for an ornery, idealistic strain of progressive thought that defies both convention and compromise.
But Trump, Breitbart and the new fascist resurgence have changed much of the landscape.
Now that we have a clearer understanding of Putinism -- or rather, Duginism -- we must continually ask ourselves: Is this "left-wing" critique really what it seems to be? Or are we aiding a foreign power who wants to see America destroyed by a new civil war?
If Emma Goldman were alive today, she'd be the first to warn against bogus "left-wingers" who -- wittingly or unwittingly -- have empowered fascism.
(By the way: That Vanity Fair piece really should have found room to mention Salon and Hideous Asshole Goodman.)
The Trumpers and Breitbarters are now pretending that public, on-the-record meetings with Kislyak and other Russians should be considered morally equivalent to Team Trump's furtive (and often loudly denied) communications with Team Putin. By this logic, a waiter who serves pasta to a professional hit man is every bit as guilty as a millionaire who carries a large attache case to a secret meeting with that same hit man. Are Americans dumb enough to buy such an argument?