A furious President Trump reportedly raged in the Oval Office Friday afternoon, setting off a drama-filled weekend that has some Washington insiders feeling on edge.
In a series of tweets early Saturday morning, Trump accused Obama of having “wires tapped in Trump Tower just before the victory.” Trump made the accusatory tweets from his “winter White House,” Mar-a-Lago.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway suggested Monday that President Trump was relying on more than just news sources when he accused former President Barack Obama over the weekend of tapping phones in Trump Tower during the campaign last year. Many in the media have dismissed Trump’s claims as a conspiracy theory lacking in evidence, even though, as Conway noted, other sources such as the New York Times previously reported that wiretaps were used to investigate Trump’s campaign over the past several months.
Said Conway on Fox and Friends:
He’s the president of the United States. He has information and intelligence that the rest of us do not, and that’s the way it should be for presidents.
You have a number of various and credible news sources showing that there was politically motivated activity all during the campaign and suggesting that there may be more there.
The president’s entire point is that the people deserve to know. If we don’t know, then let’s find out together.
The White House said on Sunday that Trump would ask the House and Senate Intelligence Committees to look into “whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016,” and that neither Trump nor the White House would comment further until the oversight was conducted.
According to Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, there are actions the president could take right now to back up his accusations. Gowdy pointed out that the Trump administration now controls any paper trail that could prove Trump’s claims about wiretaps on Trump Tower, and noted the Justice Department can release any information that could support the allegations:
It’s really hard to cross-examine tweets. I need witnesses. I need documents.
In other words, Trump should put up or shut up.
The weekend drama began Friday afternoon, when — according to White House sources and footage through a White House window published by CNN — the president raged at Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon in the Oval Office before embarking on Air Force One to Palm Beach.
Via the Daily Mail:
Footage has emerged of a heated row in the Oval Office on Friday that saw Donald Trump erupt into a ‘ballistic’ tirade against Steve Bannon and other senior advisors.
The president reportedly unleashed his anger on Bannon and chief of staff Reince Priebus for failing to fight off the firestorm surrounding attorney general Jeff Sessions’ recusal amid links to Russia.
Sources told CNN that the Oval Office tirade had a “lot of expletives,” and that “nobody has seen him that upset.” Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy also commented on the president’s rage after speaking to Trump twice over the weekend about the wiretap story:
I haven’t seen him this pissed off in a long time. When I mentioned Obama “denials” about the wiretaps, he shot back: “This will be investigated, it will all come out. I will be proven right.”
The big news Saturday after Trump’s disclosure was the fact that neither Obama nor any Obama administration officials actually denied that Trump’s offices were ever wire tapped.
Instead the press focused on the rather narrow denial that Obama himself never ordered such a wiretap. [Wouldn’t it strain belief that a major presidential candidate’s offices were wiretapped and the president was never informed?]
If Trump’s claims are true, Obama and some of his officials may well face prosecution, said attorney Robert Barnes:
[Obama administration actions] could even put Obama smack-middle of the biggest unlawful surveillance and political-opponent-smear campaign since Nixon. Except even Nixon didn’t use the FBI and NSA for his dirty tricks.
Democrats may regret Sessions’ recusal, as his replacement is a mini-Sessions: a long-respected, apolitical, highly ethical prosecutor, Dana Boente, whose reputation is well-warranted from his service at the Tax Division, and who won’t be limited by any perceived ties to Trump, given his prior appointment by Obama. Obama himself appeared scared of Boente, as he removed Boente from the successor-to-Sessions position during the lame-duck part of Obama’s presidency, but Trump restored Boente to that role earlier this month. Democrats may get the investigation they wanted, but it may be their own that end up named in the indictment.
A pre-election tweet by then-candidate Hillary Clinton referenced an October 2016 article published by Slate that appeared to cover the target of one of the reported FISA warrants: a server within Trump Tower that had reportedly been communicating with Russia. The Slate article was quickly and roundly criticized as being ill-informed and likely incorrect about its findings, but the investigation it refers to is now squarely in the spotlight, suspected by many to be part of an illicit political smear campaign:
— ✨💫AmericanKelli 💫✨ (@kshw5678) March 6, 2017