Donald Trump’s outrageous allegation that the Obama administration had called for a wiretap on his campaign headquarters in Trump Tower sparked massive controversy over the past week or so, igniting debate over both Trump’s conspiratorial nature as well as a potential massive overreach of executive power by the previous president. It had surfaced that Trump’s tweeted allegations may have been the product of a Breitbart article suggesting that Obama had called for surveillance on Trump as a candidate. Of course, Breitbart has become infamous for perpetuating conspiracy theories on a range of issues, and thus the concern that Trump may have gotten such information from such an incredulous source worried many that the president’s information-gathering tactics were horrendously flawed. Given that Trump’s team did not provide any evidence of the claim originally, the House Intelligence Committee requested that the Justice Department do so by Monday. When Spicer addressed the matter, he claimed that Trump had not actually been referring to wiretapping when he wrote “wiretapping,” and surely, this response was not adequate for the Committee.
While they did not present any satisfactory evidence for the claims, Trump has continued to pursue the allegation, telling reporters that he expects important information on the claims to be presented in the next two weeks. He did not, however, indicate from where that information would come.
As such, the debate continued, and the House Intelligence Committee will inevitably force FBI Director James Comey to speak about the matter next week when he testifies before the body. In the meantime, however, high-level officials and representatives have spoken on the issue and declared that there is no evidence to corroborate Trump’s allegations. "Based on the information available to us, we see no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element of the United States government either before or after Election Day 2016,” read a statement from Senate Intelligence Committee chair Richard Burr and ranking member Mark Warner. House Speaker Paul Ryan furthered the notion that Trump’s allegations were false, claiming that "no such wiretap existed." "The intelligence committees, in their continuing, widening, ongoing investigations of all things Russia, got to the bottom -- at least so far with respect to our intelligence community -- that no such wiretap existed," he said.
These statements indicate a radical departure from the unwavering Republican support Trump inevitably expected to receive after winning his election. The fact that he has issued such absurd accusations and ultimately pushed Republicans away from his side might then indicate future policy splits between the White House and Republicans in Congress, including that over the proposed budget issued yesterday.
It is still important to note, however, that some representatives are waiting to hear from Comey whether or not Trump’s statements have any merit, even in the face of the statements issued by leading congressional members. "But again you can see the President trying to say, 'Well I didn't mean what I said or what I said could mean various different things' — he was very specific in what he said. So we'll ask the director to address that very specific allegation,” said Adam Schiff of the House Intelligence Committee.
What do you think about this ongoing debate?