President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Saturday morning and made claims that former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower prior to the 2016 election. According to Vox, Trump’s tweets—which included no evidence —may have been prompted by the increased scrutiny surrounding his administration’s ties to Russia.
There’s … a lot to unpack here.
First, there’s Trump’s allegation that President Obama was personally involved in tapping him. He’s offered absolutely no evidence of this, so there’s no reason to believe it. And early Saturday afternoon, an Obama spokesperson released a statement strongly denying the claim, saying President Obama and White House officials did not interfere with Department of Justice investigations as a “rule.”
There’s also no indication so far that Trump’s phone calls were personally “tapped.” However, the question about whether “wires” and “phones” in Trump Tower “were tapped” before the election is much more difficult to untangle. That’s because there was and apparently still is a wide-ranging, FBI-led investigation into Trump associates and Russian operatives or banks. We don’t yet know the investigation’s full scope, or what it may have turned up.
The broader political context is that potential Russia-related scandals continue to dog the young administration, as this week’s controversy involving Attorney General Jeff Sessions makes clear — and that the president himself is still trying to figure out how to best respond.
On Wednesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions came under fire for failing to tell Congress that he met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign. Prior to that, national security aide Michael Flynn was fired from Trump’s administration for having ties to Russia.