Evidently annoyed by the new series of questions and allegations regarding his ties to Russia swirling this weekend, President Donald Trump decided to tweet an angry conspiracy theory blaming his predecessor for his problems. The tweets are a bit difficult to follow because he interjected something largely unrelated between two of them. At first glance, Trump appears to be making a major new explosive allegation.
In reality, he is most likely summarizing a Breitbart article that is itself a summary of a highly speculative right-wing talk radio monologue that is based on facts that were originally reported long ago. Here are the tweets.
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
Is it legal for a sitting President to be "wire tapping" a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
I'd bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
The phrasing that Trump “just found out” about this, combined with the fact that he is the president of the United States, superficially suggests that he received some kind of new classified briefing. That would be very interesting if it’s true, though also potentially inappropriate for the president to be receiving briefings about an ongoing investigation into his own close associates. But Trump almost certainly “found out” via Joel Pollack’s March 3 article on Breitbart, summarizing conservative talk radio pundit Mark Levin’s theory that Obama is orchestrating a “silent coup” against Trump.
Levin, however, does not bring any new facts to the table.
Julian Borger reported for the Guardian back on January 11 that FBI inquiries into ties between four Trump associates and Russian government figures had led to applications for two Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrants. One application was rejected, and then a second, narrower application was accepted. Contrary to Trump’s assertions, the president of the United States does not personally direct FBI investigations, and there’s no evidence that Obama had anything to do with this personally. Lurking beneath Trump’s conspiratorial web is simply the reality that he seems to be confirming that intelligence services and the FISA Court believe there is some kind of investigation-worthy evidence out there.
Trump then followed this up with a shot at Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ratings on The Apprentice, likely in response to Schwarzenegger’s recent statement that he will leave the show if it is renewed for another season, because it has too much “baggage.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger isn't voluntarily leaving the Apprentice, he was fired by his bad (pathetic) ratings, not by me. Sad end to great show— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017