Fact Check: Trump’s Claim Of Wire-Tapping

Donald Trump is back at it again. The nation’s current president has once again made a wild accusation against former president Barack Obama, while offering not even the slightest shred of evidence to support his claim. Shocker.

Less than a week after giving his first address to Congress in which he called for the end of “trivial fights”, Trump went on an early-morning Twitter rant on Saturday claiming that Obama wire-tapped his phones at Trump Tower just before the conclusion of the 2016 election. 

We are now at a point in American society where our current president is making so many unreliable claims, we can’t even pause to enjoy the fact he misspelled the word “tap.” But that’s beside the point. Every credible source that would have any knowledge of alleged wire-tapping has asserted that the claim is false, including FBI director James Comey. So let’s break this down piece by piece.

How Did We Get Here?

No one knows for sure where Trump got this outlandish claim from, but some have a pretty good idea. Last Thursday, it was conspiracy theorist and radio host Mark Levin who first ranted about Obama’s alleged wiretapping on his syndicated radio show. The next day, the right wing conspiracy website Breitbart News picked up the story and turned it into an article

It’s not entirely clear if that’s where Trump got the basis for his claim, but it’s fair to wonder considering Trump has cited Breitbart in the past, and Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief White House strategist, ran Breitbart before joining Trump’s team last year.

Can a President Order Wire Tapping of Citizens?

No. Absolutely not. A president cannot unilaterally order intelligence agencies to spy on anyone. This can be done with a court order, however. The only issue with that is, there was no court order. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court is responsible for administering warrants to intelligence agencies wanting to listen in on calls if the reasons for surveillance pertained to foreign intelligence. But there is no record of such an order against Trump, according to former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper.

Another key thing to know here is, in order to gain a warrant, either the FISA or a federal judge must sign off. Those orders are requested by the FBI or the Justice Department, not the White House. So hypothetically, if Trump’s calls were tapped, it was with a court order gained by intelligence agencies, not president Obama. But again, there is zero credible evidence that this ever happened.

So What Do We Do Now?

Look, this is really getting old. Whatever you think of Donald Trump and his policies or his ethics as a person, the one thing I would assume all people want is truth. Wanting the truth is not a partisan stance, but these constant bombshell accusations that are thrown out against anyone Trump doesn’t like are meaningless and irrelevant until any proof is presented. We cannot take claims like this seriously when this president is known to have sided with right wing conspiracy theorists while providing no evidence for any of his claims. 

This is all unnecessary but the fact of the matter is, there are probably more coming and when they eventually do come, we should all ignore them as the baseless, unreliable statements they are, not facts that we should believe. Turning this into “Obama’s birth certificate, part two” is dangerous and unwarranted. Take them with a grain of salt. 

Andrew Kurzeja is a senior writer and contributor for the Asterisk Effect. Questions and comments can be submitted to the author at andrewkurzeja5@gmail.com

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