The Two Questions President Trump's Team Hasn't Answered About the Wiretapping Allegations

March 5th 2017

Willie Burnley Jr.

On Sunday morning, White House press secretary Sean Spicer fired up the Twitter machine to call for a congressional investigation to determine whether then-President Barack Obama abused his power during the presidential election.

The request by the White House came just a day after President Donald Trump publicly accused his predecessor of wiretapping Trump Tower, an activity that would require probable cause and the approval of a federal judge. Likening the alleged wiretapping to Watergate, Trump implied that Obama had broken the law.

There are a litany of issues with the claims being made by the White House, but here are just two.

1) Where’s the evidence?

Trump's initial accusations provided no evidence for his claims. Those claims remain unsubstantiated and it appears they will remain that way for at least a while.

In his statement, Spicer said that neither the president or the White House would comment further on the matter until Congress had taken up their request and conducted an investigation. The move appears to be a dodge of the president's responsibility to make factual claims, instead redirecting pressure to prove Trump's statements to Congress. 

It is possible that Trump now has access to classified information that the general public is not privy to, but he also has the power to declassify any evidence. If the wiretap was legally obtained by the Department of Justice, however, that would mean potentially declassifying the disparaging information about his own campaign that led to such surveillance. Warrants to spy on Americans are granted if there is probable cause to believe they've committed a serious crime or are an agent of a foreign power.

2) What is the source of these allegations?

Neither the president or anyone working in his administration has stated publicly where these claims originated. Anonymous sources near the president told the New York Times they believe that Trump was convinced of Obama administration spies by an article published in the so-called “alt-right” publication Breitbart News.

The article in the site founded by White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon laid out a timeline of alleged moves the Obama administration made during the presidential election to undermine the Trump campaign. However, as ABC’s Martha Raddatz pointed out in an interview with a Trump spokesperson, none of the mainstream news publications definitively stated that Trump Tower had been wiretapped.

For a president who once implied that his political opponent’s father may have aided the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the elevation of a marginal publication’s unproven claims to the level of fact—or alternative fact—has caused some to believe that he is a Conspiracy-Theorist-in-Chief.