President Donald Trump’s claims about his predecessor tapping Trump Tower are providing new context for Hillary Clinton’s attempts to smear her opponent during the 2016 election and raising questions about her knowledge of the alleged operation.
“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” Trump tweeted early Saturday morning.
“How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process,” he continued. “This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”
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
Obama denied the allegations, as did his top aides and government intelligence officials, but a steady stream of accusations of Russian ties to Trump and his advisors that started shortly before the election and continues today makes the denial difficult to believe.
According to The New York Times:
During the transition, the F.B.I. — which uses FISA warrants to eavesdrop on the communications of foreign leaders inside the United States — overheard conversations between the Russian ambassador to the United States and Michael T. Flynn, whom Mr. Trump had named national security adviser.
Mr. Trump has pointedly and repeatedly questioned in conversations how it was that Mr. Flynn’s conversations were recorded, and wondered who could have issued a warrant.
After The Washington Post reported that Mr. Flynn and the ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, had discussed sanctions that the Obama administration had just imposed on Russia, Mr. Flynn was pushed out of his post by the White House because he had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of the calls.
Hillary Clinton’s Twitter activity during the 2016 campaign, re-examined in the context of Trump’s wire-tapping claims, also raises questions about her knowledge of the alleged monitoring.
Computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank. pic.twitter.com/8f8n9xMzUU
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) November 1, 2016
“Computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank,” Clinton tweeted Oct. 31, along with a statement from Jake Sullivan, Clinton’s senior policy advisor.
“This secret hotline may be the key to unlocking the mystery of Trump’s ties to Russia. It certainly seems the Trump Organization felt it had something to hide, given that it apparently took steps to conceal the link when it was discovered by journalists,” Sullivan said.
“This line of communication may help explain Trump’s bizarre adoration of Vladimir Putin and endorsement of so many pro-Kremlin positions throughout this campaign,” he continued. “It raises even more troubling questions in light of Russia’s masterminding of hacking efforts that are clearly intended to hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign. We can only assume that federal authorities will now explore this direct connection between Trump and Russia as part of their existing probe into Russia’s meddling in our elections.”
The Clinton campaign based the claims of the secret Trump server on an article in the far-left Slate, one of the only publications to run the story.
It took The Intercept about one day to thoroughly discredit the server story with security researchers who believe the most plausible explanation involved a third-party marketing company that operated the “trump-email.com” server to spam the Russian bank and other sites with marketing ploys for Trump hotels.
The news site pointed out there’s no way to fully vet Clinton’s claims, and noted that numerous news sites were presented with the same information but declined to publish a story based on the flimsy evidence. The New York Times, The Washington Post, Reuters, The Daily Beast, Vice and others examined the “DNS logs” – or activity logs – leaked by an “anonymous researcher” and tossed them aside, The Intercepts reports.
The leak, combined with other leaks about Trump’s alleged ties to Russia that included a disgustingly false accusation of sexual depravity in a Moscow hotel, make it clear a campaign to smear the Donald likely came from top government officials.
“Is it legal for a sitting President to be ‘wire tapping’ a race for president prior to an election?” Trump questioned in a tweet Saturday.
The Clinton campaign’s willingness to spread the false or misleading information begs other questions, as well.
Did the Clinton campaign conspire with Obama administration officials to use information collected through Trump Tower surveillance?
What did Clinton know about the alleged wiretapping? And when?