Anatomy of a Lie

Trump has said so many things that appear to be false, from the trivia of his inauguration crowd size to a very serious accusation of criminal activity on the part of President Obama.

Is Donald Trump a liar? Is The President of The United States of America delusional? Does he have deep insights beyond the ken of other mere mortals? Or is he just a lucky fool hitherto protected from the consequences of his own foolishness by immense inherited wealth?

This is a detailed time-line, with supporting links, of just one of his lies/delusions/deep insights.

A time line of the wire tapping saga with acknowledgement to an original story from ABC News by Veronica Stracqualursi and Adam Kelsey Mar 20, 2017

March 04 2017
Trump fired off a tweet from his Mar-a-Lago estate accusing Obama of wiretapping his phones at Trump Tower in New York during the election.

Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!
7:35 PM – 4 Mar 2017

Trump then followed up with three more tweets, comparing the allegations to President Nixon’s Watergate scandal.

Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump
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!
7:49 PM – 4 Mar 2017

Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump
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!
7:52 PM – 4 Mar 2017

Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump
How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!
8:02 PM – 4 Mar 2017

Comment: These tweets are more than likely complete twaddle and that conclusion was more or less obvious on the day they were sent. Here’s why.

March 05 2017
FBI Director James Comey asked the Department of Justice to publicly rebut Trump’s allegations out of concern that the president’s tweets might make it look as though the bureau acted improperly.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer announced in a statement that Trump requested that congressional intelligence committees “determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016” as part of their investigations of Russia’s alleged meddling in the U.S. election.

March 06 2017
Former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, said that “there was no wiretap against Trump Tower during the campaign conducted by any part of the National Intelligence Community … including the FBI.”

Sean Spicer said in an audio-only gaggle: “I think that there’s no question that something happened. The question is, is it surveillance, is it a wiretap, or whatever?”

When asked for clarification about whether Trump believed the FBI or Obama committed criminal acts in a potential pursuit of surveillance, as well as the appropriateness of the sitting president making such a public charge, Spicer repeatedly said that Trump’s tweets “speak for themselves.”

Comment: Spicer later explained that ” wire tapping”  does not necessarily mean “wiretapping

March 07 2017
Another White House press briefing led to questions about the promised investigation into the claims and Comey’s reported request made in private that the Justice Department publicly shoot down Trump’s claims.

Spicer said that “the president has not” asked Comey whether he was wiretapped and stands by his March 5 statement on the direction of the inquiry, saying, “I think the smartest and most deliberative way to address this situation is to ask the House and Senate intelligence committees who are already in the process of looking into this.”

The press secretary was also asked whether Trump has “any regrets” about making the accusation.

“No,” Spicer said, “Absolutely not.”

March 10 2017
The House Intelligence Committee formally requested that the Justice Department turn over any documentary evidence, including applications, orders or warrants, by Monday, March 13. This deadline would later be extended to March 20.

March 12 2017
In answer to a direct question: “Do you know whether Trump Tower was wire tapped?” Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway said: “What I can say is there are many ways to surveil each other,” Conway went on to say. “You can surveil someone through their phones, certainly through their television sets — any number of ways — and microwaves that turn into cameras, et cetera.”

March 13 2017
Spicer launched a defense of Trump’s tweets centered around punctuation, calling attention, in the day’s press briefing, to the quotation marks employed by the president.

“I think if you look at the president’s tweet, he said very clearly “wiretapping” in quotes,” Spicer said, indicating that Trump meant the word as a reference to overall reconnaissance.

“The president was very clear in his tweet that it was wiretapping, that that spans a whole host of surveillance types of options,” Spicer said.

Two out of Trump’s four tweets on the subject do not include the quotation marks, however, and he specifically refers to his “phones” in one.

Spicer also cautioned the media about reading too literally into the claim of Obama’s involvement:

“He doesn’t really think that President Obama went up and tapped his phone personally.”

The Department of Justice also asked for more time in meeting the House Intelligence Committee’s request for evidence of Trump’s wiretapping claim. The committee set the new deadline for before their March 20 hearing on Russia’s alleged interference in the U.S. election.

March 14 2017
In light of the fact that the DOJ was given an additional week to gather evidence on surveillance, reporters continue to ask Spicer whether Trump feels assured in his position.

“I think he feels very confident that it will ultimately come to this — will vindicate him,” Spicer said during the press briefing.

Fox News segment aired in which legal commentator and Fox News regular Andrew Napolitano accuses the British GCHQ of spying on Trump for President Obama.

Comment: Napolitano’s accusations were subsequently disowned by FOX News and Napolitano himself was eventually suspended from FOX.

March 15 2017

The House Intelligence Committee leaders announced they didn’t find any evidence that Trump’s Manhattan office was wiretapped by Obama.

“We don’t have any evidence that that took place … I don’t think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower,” House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif alongside Democratic ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff of California  during a Capitol Hill news conference .

Nunes also said it depends on whether you interpret Trump’s tweets literally.

“I think the challenge here is that President Obama wouldn’t physically go over and wiretap Trump Tower,” Nunes said. “So now you have to decide … are you going to take the tweets literally? And if you are, then clearly the president was wrong.”

Nunes continued, “But if you’re not going to take the tweets literally, and if there’s a concern that the president has about other people, other surveillance activities looking at him or his associates, either appropriately or inappropriately, we want to find that out.”

In an interview with Fox News that aired Wednesday night, Trump commented for the first time on the wiretapping allegations.

Trump explained that his claims originated from “reading about things” and news reports. He pointed to a New York Times article and a Fox News segment, though neither reports that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower.

When asked why he didn’t reach out to intelligence agencies to verify his claims, Trump said he didn’t “want to do anything that’s going to violate any strength of an agency.”

He added, “I think you’re going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.”

March 16 2017
Senate Intelligence Committee leaders — Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va. — released a joint statement: “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.”

Spicer defended Trump during the press briefing and said the Congressional intelligence committees’ statements were not based on investigative work.

“They’re not findings. There’s a statement out today they have not begun this,” Spicer said. “Two days ago the Department of Justice asked for an additional week. The statement clearly says at this time that they don’t believe that.”

Spicer also launched into a lengthy explanation, citing various news reports that inspired Trump’s March 4 tweets and Fox News commentator Andrew Napolitano’s suggestion that Obama used Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters to spy on Trump.

“The bipartisan leaders of the Intelligence Committee would not have made the statement they made without having been fully briefed by the appropriate authorities,” Sen. Warner’s spokeswoman fired back at Spicer in a statement after the press briefing.
March 17 2017
The Justice Department announced it was complying with the Intelligence and Justice Committees’ requests for information on surveillance efforts, but did not provide detail on the extent of the information.

Word of the Justice Department’s actions came just as Trump was holding a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in which he was asked by German media about the claims.

“As far as wiretapping, I guess, by this past administration, at least we have something in common, perhaps,” Trump said of Merkel, referring to the revelation first reported in 2013 by a German news magazine that a document apparently from a U.S. National Security Agency database indicated Merkel’s cellphone was first listed as a target in 2002.

March 20 2017
FBI Director James Comey told the House Intelligence Committee on Monday that he had “no information that supports those tweets” alleging that Obama wiretapped Trump, adding that the Department of Justice asked him to convey that it also does not have any supporting information.

“I’m not going to try and characterize the tweets themselves,” he said. “All I can tell you is we have no information that supports them.”

Comey went on to describe the procedures that must be followed for any surveillance to be approved.

“No individual in the United States can direct electronic surveillance of anyone,” he said, saying “no President could” unilaterally order a wiretap. “It has to go through an application process, ask a judge. The judge can then make the order.”