Trump’s wiretap claims may have been taken from a page out of the Russian playbook according to a former UK ambassador to the US, and if that’s the case, then both Americans and British people have something to be truly afraid of.
According to Independent, Sir Peter Westmacott who served as the British ambassador to the United States said Trump’s insistence that former president Barack Obama and the GCHQ wiretapped his phones during his campaign came from Russia’s tactics on creating dissidence among its rivals.
Despite having no proof to back his claims, Donald Trump insisted that his predecessor bugged his phones at the Trump Tower during his presidential campaign. Now, he’s saying that Barack Obama gave GCHQ, a British intelligence and security organization, permission to conduct illegal surveillance on him.
The latest claim that the British intelligence community illegally tapped Trump’s phones came about during White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s briefing last Thursday, March 16.
During a press conference, Spicer referred to Andrew Napolitano’s comments that implied that the GCHQ was behind the illegal surveillance of Trump Tower.
Trump reiterated those claims when he spoke in front of the media during his meeting with Angela Merkel, and though the British government already debunked those claims, Trump didn’t offer an apology for making baseless claims.
During his press conference on Friday, March 17, Trump was asked again about his wiretap claims, but instead of providing concrete proof to back his allegations he told the press that he only got the idea from Napolitano, a Fox News commentator, who claimed that the GCHQ tapped his phones.
He said, “All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television. I didn’t make an opinion on it.”
Trump even told the press that if they wanted to get to the truth they should speak with Fox News and not him.
But Fox News had already distanced their selves from Napolitano, saying that they can’t support his claims that the British intelligence community conducted illegal surveillance of Trump at the request of Barack Obama.
The British government had already asked the White House to retract their accusations, saying that these baseless claims are severely undermining the United States and UK’s relationship.
Britain’s national security adviser, Mark Lyall, had spoken with Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, his American counterpart, to diffuse the situation.
Kim Darroch, the British ambassador to the United States, also helped in alleviating the tense situation between the two nations by speaking with Sean Spicer last week and, according to a spokesperson for Prime Minister Theresa May, the White House decided to back off from their claims of illegal wiretapping.
But Trump’s recent press conference revealed that he’s not backing down from his accusations, and the former UK ambassador to the United States believes that there’s a reason for that.
Sir Peter Westmacott said that Donald Trump is simply doing what the Russians want him to do and that is to weaken the ties between the U.S. and the U.K.
Westmacott said that the Russians have long been using information warfare against the U.K. and the U.S. It has long been a practice of the Russian intelligence community to spread lies about politicians from the U.K. and the U.S., so he believes that what’s happening with Donald Trump right now is a page out of the Russian playbook.
Westmacott said, “I suspect it is not [overstating it] to suggest this story comes from the Russian playbook,” he said.
“What we do know is that the Russians are engaged in information warfare against the US and the UK. They have peddled stories in the past which turned out to be not true, which were deliberately put out by them, [and] they have produced leaked material to embarrass different US politicians.”
FBI director, James Comey, is scheduled to speak today about Trump’s wiretap claims in front of congress and it’s already expected that he will debunk the president’s allegations that Obama had him illegally wiretapped.
Comey is also scheduled to speak about Trump’s collusion with the Russians that resulted in Vladimir Putin intervening with the presidential elections last year.
Although it’s highly unlikely that Comey will provide more concrete answers to the question whether the Russians intervened on the U.S. elections, it’s no longer farfetched that they did indeed have a hand in Trump’s victory and Sir Peter Westmacott will be the last person to debunk that theory.
[Featured Image by Alex Brandon/AP Images]