Sunday, March 05, 2017


If the strategy behind Homegrown Hitler's charges against President Obama was to deflect attention from his regime's potentially illegal conspiracy with Russia and then lying about it, it's not going well.

On the accusations, the New York Times:

"The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, asked the Justice Department this weekend to publicly reject President Trump’s assertion that President Barack Obama ordered the tapping of Mr. Trump’s phones, senior American officials said on Sunday. Mr. Comey has argued that the highly charged claim is false and must be corrected, they said, but the department has not released any such statement.

Mr. Comey’s request is a remarkable rebuke of a sitting president, putting the nation’s top law enforcement official in the position of questioning Mr. Trump’s truthfulness. The confrontation between the two is the most serious consequence of Mr. Trump’s weekend Twitter outburst, and it underscores the dangers of what the president and his aides have unleashed by accusing the former president of a conspiracy to undermine Mr. Trump’s young administration."

The Times notes however that weasly Comey could himself issue such a statement on behalf of the FBI, which would have carried out wiretaps and so is itself being accused.

On the blowback, CNN:

"The mystery over Donald Trump and Russia is taking a corrosive hold on his presidency, sowing accusations and hysteria that threaten to overwhelm his White House and drain his personal credibility.

Washington has become a hall of mirrors, where it's impossible to distinguish between rumor and fact as conspiracy theories and partisan paroxysms rage -- all arising from an alleged Russian spy plot to sway last year's election that is now clouding the new administration.

The White House is finding it impossible to put to rest claims it has improper ties to Russia. Often, President Trump himself reignites the drama — apparently to his detriment — as with his sensational claim Saturday that his predecessor Barack Obama tapped his phones."

Absent some of the hyperbole, other outlets like the Washington Post have made the same point.

Opined E.J. Dionne. "Trump has a problem either way. If he was not wiretapped, he invented a spectacularly false charge. And if a court ordered some sort of surveillance of him, on what grounds did it do so?  Every time the issue of the relationship between Trump’s apparatus and Moscow comes up, he is moved to unleash unhinged counterattacks. This only underscores how urgent it is to get to the bottom of this story quickly."

"Even by the surreal standards set during his early weeks in office,... Trump's tweets over the weekend marked a potentially dangerous turn in the course of American democracy," wrote Ishaan Tharoor in the Washington Post.  He quotes a German newspaper that likened Trump to the dictator of Turkey. ""They believe that the words that come from their mouths as powerful leaders are the truth and that the media, when it strays from them, is telling lies. That's autocratic thinking — and it is how you sustain a dictatorship."

In a story about Kellyanne Conway challenging Comey to go public with what he knows about wiretaps, Fox News quotes Nancy Pelosi about the initial Trumped up charge: 'It's called a wrap-up smear. You make up something. Then you have the press write about it. And then you say, everybody is writing about this charge. It's a tool of an authoritarian," Pelosi said.

Update: WAPost Daily 202 on Monday suggests Trump did sort of get away with it by getting the media off Sessions' lies, but ultimately he may well pay a price.

NBC News suggests President Obama may have grounds to sue for libel.

Meanwhile, a relaxed and informally dressed President Obama visited the National Gallery of Art in Washington with his wife Michelle.  Afterwards a crowd outside cheered him.

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