Senator Lindsey Graham held a townhall meeting in his native South Carolina Saturday and addressed the issue of the latest series of Twitter posts where President Donald Trump accused former President Barack Obama of ordering the wiretapping of Trump Tower during the campaign for the presidency. The three-term senator told the audience that if true, such an act would become the “biggest scandal since Watergate.” He also said it was his job, as a senator, to “get to the bottom of this.”
As was captured on video by CNN, Lindsey Graham, speaking at a gathering in Clemson, South Carolina, brought up the small flurry of tweets President Trump posted to his Twitter account earlier on Saturday morning haranguing former President Barack Obama for ordering the wiretap of Trump’s campaign phones. After a round of laughter from the decidedly anti-Trump crowd, Graham said, “I don’t know if it’s true or not, but if it is true, illegally, it would be the biggest political scandal since Watergate,” which was met with some boos and a few yells regarding Russia’s hacking of the election.
But then Sen. Graham, who had several run-ins with candidate Donald Trump on the campaign trail and publicly announced he would not vote for Trump when it was certain that the New York businessman was going to get the Republican presidential nomination, provided the crowd with another scandal-bigger-than-Watergate scenario, “The other side of the story — just be quiet; be quiet for a second — if the former president of the United States was able to obtain a warrant lawfully to monitor Trump’s campaign for violating a law, that would be the biggest scandal since Watergate.”
For emphasis, the Republican senator reiterated, adding his concern for what the Trump accusations of Obama wiretapping entails.
“So here’s the deal, as we get ready to talk to each other: I’m very worried. I’m very worried that our president is suggesting that the former president has done something illegally. I would be very worried if in fact the Obama administration was able to obtain a warrant lawfully about Trump campaign activity with a foreign government.”
Graham was not done. “So it’s my job as a United States senator to get to the bottom of this,” he concluded, adding, “I promise you I will.”
The promise was met with applause.
Graham’s words came in response to four tweets posted by President Trump (per the Washington Post) wherein he said he had “just found out Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ at Trump Tower,” labeling the act “McCarthyism.” He then questioned the legality of a sitting president to wiretap a campaign and added, “Turned down by a court earlier” (The Guardian reported that a FISA court had denied a warrant to surveil four of Trump’s campaign team members in the summer of 2016), which is suggestive that the president ordered the wiretap illegally. Trump then made the assumption that a legal case could be made that former President Obama had had his phones tapped in October. He ended the postings commenting on how “low” it was for the president to use a wiretap during the election. He concluded with: “This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”
Democratic Congressman Ted Leiu of California is in apparent agreement with Sen. Lindsey Graham on something being done about the accusation on a congressional level. He took to Twitter Saturday, first posting that an admitted wiretap meant that Trump himself was in trouble (the tweet apparently assumed no illegality on the part of then President Obama), noting that a federal judge had to find probable cause to issue a warrant for a wiretap.
Lieu then posted that President Trump might be a bit paranoid.
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) March 4, 2017
A few hours later, the congressman tweeted that the admission of a wiretap would force Congress to appoint a special prosecutor to look into the matter.
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) March 4, 2017
President Trump, who is weekending in Florida, did not provide substantiation for his accusation of Obama in his Twitter postings, and it is believed he may have been prompted by an article in Breitbart News, according to the Washington Post. CNN and other conservative media outlets also ran with extrapolated stories that seem to have had their origin with conservative talk show host Mark Levin, who suggested Thursday on his show that the Obama administration might have monitored the Trump campaign.
As for former President Obama, a spokesman, Kevin Lewis, issued a statement (per NBC News) rejecting Trump’s accusation.
“A cardinal rule of the Obama administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice. As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.”
Several former senior U.S. officials have denied that a wiretap was ordered on Trump’s phones. According to the Washington Post, the Department of Justice and the FBI have declined to comment on the Obama wiretap allegation.
[Featured Image by Sean Rayford/Getty Images]