Trump’s Twitter-focused presidency has certainly had its fair share of substantial ramifications already. Comments about China have produced tensions between the United States and its Eastern counterpart, claims of voter fraud have led to a lack of trust in the American democratic process, and statements encouraging followers to purchase Ivanka Trump’s product-line have brought about questions of distance between the presidency and Trump's family’s businesses. Perhaps the most significant message that Trump has tweeted, however, came last week, when he accused the Obama Administration of wire-tapping Trump Tower throughout the election cycle.
“Is it legal for a sitting President to be "wire tapping" a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!” he wrote. “How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!” he furthered. This, of course, shifted the news cycle into a frenzy over these claims, taking away attention from the fact that Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, had had two private meetings with the Russian ambassador and had not disclosed them during his confirmation hearings. Whether Trump’s tweet was a deliberate attempt to divert the news cycle away from Sessions or an actual accusation against Obama, the claim might come back to hurt Trump’s administration if they are not able to provide evidence of the wiretapping.
The House Intelligence Committee has set today as the deadline for the Department of Justice to produce any evidence of Trump’s wiretapping claims. Given that both Obama himself and the former director of national intelligence have denied the allegations, the administration is certainly feeling the heat to corroborate Trump’s statements. Furthermore, the fact that it appears as though Trump may have been led to believe that he had been wiretapped as a result of a Breitbart article published on the matter does not help his case.
Senator John McCain, an adamant critic of Trump, has laid out the scenario in the clearest terms. "The President has one of two choices: either retract or provide the information that the American people deserve. I have no reason to believe that the charge is true, but I also believe that the President of the United States could clear this up in a minute." Democrats in the House claim that they do not expect to see any evidence of Trump’s claims, yet it is unclear if the Department of Justice will even release a statement on the matter.
If the administration is, in fact, able to provide some compelling evidence that Trump’s team had been surveyed throughout the campaign, there are two significant potential consequences. One is that the Trump campaign had been engaging in illegal activity that warranted surveillance by the federal government, which certainly does not bode well for Trump. Another possibility is that there were strict political motivations for the surveillance, which then raises questions about the state of U.S. democracy at large.
Do you think Trump’s Department of Justice will provide evidence for his claims?