On Saturday President Trump charged that former President Obama ordered a wire tap of Candidate Trump. The first question might be why did President Trump feel in necessary to gratuitously attack a former President? The second question might be what does it mean if it were true?
In order to answer the second question (whether the charges were true), one must make assumptions on why a wire tap might be necessary. It could be wire taps were the result of a (on going) FBI investigation. The investigation might be/have been about Trump’s business dealings, his campaign financing, or even potential connections with Russia or Russian intermediaries? Any of these potential reasons could have been a justification for seeking a legal wire tap. But wire taps are not necessarily a smoking gun proof that a crime has been committed.
Instead wire taps generate evidence. Evidence is then assembled and once there is a preponderance of information supporting criminal charges, official charges are brought by appropriate law enforcement officials.
So, what if there is not enough evidence assembled?
Indictments are judgement calls. They can be influenced by all sorts of factors. And, it is not unreasonable to think that a higher bar is used for someone who becomes President of the United States.
Now back to the first question, why did President Trump feel it necessary to tweet in the first place.
The most obvious and likely reason is diversion. President Trump wanted to divert the public’s attention from some issue, for example, the Jeff Session/Russian influence controversy. But why include President Obama and not just claim the FBI was tapping his phones?
There are reports that President Trump was furious that press attention switched from positive coverage of his speech to Congress to negative coverage over Jeff Sessions ties to the Russian Ambassador. It is possible that President Trump felt he had to raise the ante in order to get the press off the Russians and back to covering him. Hmmm.
There also continue to be wide ranging reports that the Trump Organization have had numerous business dealings with nefarious organizations around the world including Russian groups. President Trump may have felt it potential useful to make it more difficult for any previous wire tap information to be used in the future (claiming information was illegally obtained).
There are also other claims which say Presidential Advisor Steve Bannon wants to “deconstruct” Washington institutions. What a better way than to claim President Obama was complicit in conducting illegal wire taps? How could anyone trust the Federal Government?
But, the most serious speculation lies in the center of all these charges and counter charges. What if our narcissistic President was emotionally unsteady and prone to undertake irresponsible actions for reasons known only to him?
Given past (45 days) experience, this controversy will blow over too, only to be replaced by some other outrageous incident. Ignoring President Trump’s tweets is a viable option but one with hidden dangers.
There will be a time in the next four years when President Trump will find it necessary to come before the public, explain a future event, and then ask for public support for his choice of a response. Each one of these emotional diversions will make it even more difficult to harness the publics support in such a situation. How will the public suddenly be able to tell that President Trump is telling the truth (this time) and his proposed response does not have an ulterior motive?
Ignoring President Trump’s tweets may be an option but far worse is dignifying them with a search for what “really did happen”.
If President Trump has concerns about anything he has a Cabinet and staff who can ask the appropriate section of the Federal Government for information and clarification, in a professional manner.
It would be wiser for the press and the public’s response to consider any Trump accusation as untrue (baseless) until supported by credible Government sources.