Not satisfied with alienating countries that have a lukewarm relationship with the U.S., Donald Trump’s White House has enraged our closest ally, the United Kingdom.
Struggling to justify his boss’ insane and paranoid allegations that former President Obama was spying on him during the 2016 presidential campaign, White House press secretary Sean Spicer alleged that the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) spied on Trump on behalf of Obama during a press briefing on Thursday.
Her Majesty was not amused, and now the White House is tripping over itself to apologize to the one country that seems willing to give Trump the benefit of the doubt.
British intelligence officials were so incensed by the accusations that they broke protocol regarding commenting on allegations and released a public statement, which was reported by The Telegraph:
“Recent allegations made by media commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano about GCHQ being asked to conduct ‘wiretapping’ against the then president elect are nonsense. They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.”
According to The New York Times, a spokesman for U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May stated under condition of anonymity that they had received “assurances from the White House that these allegations would not be repeated.”
According to CNN, senior British intelligence officials protested Spicer’s claims to Downing Street, and a spokesman from the U.K. PM said:
“We’ve made clear to the U.S. administration that these claims are ridiculous and should be ignored. We’ve received assurances that these allegations won’t be repeated.”
The accusations of espionage by British intelligence was apparently derived from a Fox News broadcast and presented as actual facts to support the paranoid Trump’s claims that he had been under surveillance by the Obama administration. On Thursday, Spicer read out allegations from Fox’s legal analyst Andrew Napolitano, telling the press corps:
“Judge Andrew Napolitano made the following statement, quote, ‘Three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that President Obama went outside the chain of command (to spy on Trump). He didn’t use the NSA, he didn’t use the CIA … he used GCHQ.”
National Security adviser under Obama, Susan Rice stressed the risk that Trump and his team took when accusing British intelligence of spying in the U.S.:
“The cost of falsely blaming our closest ally for something this consequential cannot be overstated.”
The cost of falsely blaming our closest ally for something this consequential cannot be overstated. And from the PODIUM. https://t.co/lJ1Q1GR3lB
— Susan Rice (@AmbassadorRice) March 17, 2017
Criticism was also lobbed from the U.K.’s Liberal Democrat Party leader Tim Farron, who called the claim “shameful.”
“Trump is compromising the vital UK-US security relationship to try to cover his own embarrassment.”
Trump is compromising the vital UK-US security relationship to try to cover his own embarrassment. This harms our and US security. Shameful. https://t.co/QBWbgIB2uO
— Tim Farron (@timfarron) March 16, 2017
These claims persist despite a number of intelligence officials and congressional leaders repeatedly saying that there is no evidence for the accusations.
MP Farron has most likely hit the nail on the head. Trump’s allegations against Obama simply insane and an embarrassment to the United States. Trump continues to double-down on them, however, despite evidence to the contrary. Unaccustomed as he is to having his Twitter rants taken seriously, he is now scrambling to back them up with anything that will keep him looking like the fool that he is. So far, it isn’t working.
Or, more frighteningly, perhaps he’s really just a crazy, paranoid old man whose lackeys continue to humor him in the interest of job security.
Hopefully, the situation will be smoothed by calmer (and smarter) heads than the ones in our White House. The U.S. and the U.K. have a special relationship, and hopefully it will survive the Godzilla-stomping-Tokyo approach to governance that appears to be our current administration.
Watch the breaking report from CNN below:
Featured image via screencap