In an interview Wednesday night (see video below …) with Fox News host Tucker Carlson, Trump tried to walk back his claims about former President Obama wiretapping him in Trump Towers. Then, when pressed further about his unsubstantiated claims, Trump did an about face and said he did have proof and would reveal it when he was ready. He also admitted that he made those tweets to get attention after the media stopped fawning over his speech to the joint session of Congress.
The history of the wiretapping claims
On February 28, Trump made a speech to a special joint session of Congress, that many lauded as the first truly Presidential behavior of his term. That applaud quickly turned to criticism by analysts and pundits across the media and on both sides of the political aisle.
In what seemed to be an unrelated and outlandish turn of events, Trump fired off a series of early-morning tweets on March 4, claiming to have evidence that Obama had wiretapped him in Trump Towers. Note that while the first put the claim in quotes, subsequent ones did not.
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
I'd bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
While Trump demanded that Congress launch an investigation into this claim, David Nunes, the Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said earlier Wednesday “I don’t think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower.”
Meanwhile, Press Secretary Scott Spicer has been trying to walk back Trump’s claims, again and again saying that Trump meant “surveillance in general” by using quotation marks around the term “wires tapped.”
Trump walks back his extraordinary claim as well.
Again, remember that Trump instructed Congress to investigate these allegations of Obama’s tapping his phones at Trump Towers. So it was quite surprising when he said to Carlson on Wednesday,
“Don’t forget I say wiretapping, those words were in quotes. That really covers–because wiretapping is pretty old-fashioned stuff–but that really covers surveillance and many other things. And nobody ever talks about the fact that it was in quotes, but that’s a very important thing. But wire tape covers a lot of different things.”
So was it wiretapping or not? The very next words out of his mouth were a flip flop: “wire tape covers a lot of different things. I think you’re going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.”
Why Trump made the wiretapping claim in the first place.
Carlson went in to ask Trump why he made those tweets in the first place. “So you had this big speech to the joint session on Tuesday. You had great press all week, bipartisan, and then you let off this tweet, and immediately, people say…”
TRUMP: “No, it wasn’t that tweet. They had other things…”
CARLSON: “You can’t back up what you say.”
TRUMP: “Excuse me. I had a very successful night. Joint session, it was very successful. I got reviews even from people that I would never think I was going to get good reviews. I got great reviews. And then all of a sudden they came up with a new dialogue in order to kill that. So that speech was hot for about two or three hours after the speech was made, because they came up with other things, having to do with other people, that they shouldn’t have been able to do and they shouldn’t have done, but they did it. And you know exactly what I’m talking about.”
So did Trump create a fake scandal to distract us all from the criticism he was receiving over his speech to Congress, and renewed calls to prove connections between his administration and Russia? It certainly sounds that way.
Trump claims he has evidence of wiretapping.
Asked by Carlson whether making those claims of wiretapping were a mistake, Trump eventually replied “If I make one mistake in a month – this one, I don’t think is going to prove to be a mistake at all.”
Carlson immediately followed up “Do you think it’s OK to make – the counterargument, even from people who support you, who say look, I support Donald Trump, I believe what he believes, and I want him to succeed badly, but if the President says something that cannot be proved or is demonstrably untrue, he devalues his own currency.”
This is when Trump claimed to have evidence in hand.
“Let’s see whether or not I proved it. You looked at some proof. I mean, let’s see whether or not I prove it. I just don’t choose to do it right now. I choose to do it before the committee, and maybe I’ll do it before the committee. Maybe I’ll do it before I see the result of the committee. But I think we have some very good stuff. And we’re in the process of putting it together, and I think it’s going to be very demonstrative.”
Then again, during the campaign, he said he had evidence to disprove all the claims by women of sexual assault. “We already have substantial evidence to dispute these lies, and it will be made public in an appropriate way and at an appropriate time very soon.” That never happened.
You can check out the full interview below;
Featured image from YouTube.