President Donald Trump has accused his predecessor Barack Obama of “wire-tapping” the phones in his Trump Tower office in New York City before the 2016 general election in November. In a Saturday morning tweetstorm, Trump accused Obama of overseeing a “Nixon-Watergate”-style operation against him.
But some critics have accused Trump of trying to deflect attention from the allegations of ties between his campaign aides and Russia by issuing counter-allegations against Obama. According to Trump’s detractors, he is trying to turn scrutiny away from himself by making unfounded allegations against his predecessor.
Trump’s allegations against Obama, made from his “Winter White House” at Mar-a-Lago in Florida, began on Saturday, at about 5:35 a.m. eastern time, when he tweeted that Obama had wire-tapped his Trump Tower office before the 2016 presidential election.
Trump accused Obama of “McCarthyism.”
“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”
He claimed in the series of tweets that a court had earlier blocked the move by the Obama administration to tap his office, implying that Obama had defied a court order. He then claimed that “a good lawyer could make a great case out of the alleged incident.”
Trump then compared the alleged surveillance of his communications to “Nixon/Watergate,” a reference to a scandal that erupted in the 1970s under the administration of President Richard Nixon.
Nixon was accused of approving a break-in of the Washington headquarters of the Democratic Party.
A few minutes before the first of the “wire-tapping” tweets, Trump has tried to defend his attorney general Jeff Sessions, accused of “lying under oath” at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, by failing to disclose contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 general election.
Trump defended Sessions by arguing that the first meeting between Sessions and the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, was part of an education program under the Obama administration.
“The first meeting Jeff Sessions had with the Russian Amb was set up by the Obama Administration under education program for 100 Ambs…”
“Just out: The same Russian Ambassador that met Jeff Sessions visited the Obama White House 22 times, and 4 times last year alone.”
However, Trump offered no evidence to back up his claim that Obama “wire-tapped” his phones at Trump Tower.
But some media reports have speculated that Trump’s accusations against Obama could stem from recent allegations by a conservative radio host, Mark Levin, that the Obama administration had used “police state” tactics in an effort to undermine Trump’s campaign.
Levin called for a congressional investigation into the “silent coup,” according to the Guardian. Levin’s allegations were amplified by Breitbart, the “alt-right” news outlet founded by Trump’s chief adviser Steve Bannon.
According to an article by Breitbart‘s senior editor Joel Pollack, the Obama administration had been spying on Trump’s campaign “even when no evidence of wrongdoing was found.”
Politico claimed that Breitbart‘s allegation was probably in reference to a January 19 report by the New York Times that U.S. intelligence agents had secretly monitored a computer server in Trump Tower while looking for evidence of links between Trump’s campaign and Russian banks.
But the New York Times report did not say or suggest that phone lines belonging to Trump were wire-tapped.
The latest Trump tweets follow reports by mainstream media outlets, alleging that Trump’s attorney general Jeff Session had two undisclosed meetings with the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the 2016 election campaign, long before he was appointed as U.S. attorney general under the Trump administration.
Sessions allegedly met with the Russian ambassador on two occasions during the election campaign period.
Since the allegations surfaced, Sessions has announced that he would recuse himself from investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 general election.
The allegations against Sessions follow the resignation of Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn, after it emerged that he lied to the media and Vice President Mike Pence about phone conversations he had with the Russian ambassador before the inauguration of Trump as president. Flynn reportedly suggested to the Russian ambassador that Trump’s incoming administration would reverse the Obama administration’s sanctions against Russia.
The allegations of contacts between Trump’s top campaign aides and Russian officials are linked with broader allegations that the Russian government, under President Vladimir Putin, intervened through hacks against Democratic Party institutions and engaged in a disinformation campaign to tilt the elections in Trump’s favor.
Trump has alleged that Obama holdovers within the intelligence community were behind the leaks suggesting ties between Trump’s campaign aides and Russian intelligence. Trump has denied the allegations repeatedly, and recently described the allegations against Sessions as a “total witch hunt.”
[Featured Image by Steve Helber/AP Images]