Monday, March 13, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He started the process of backing down from his "wiretapping" claims by saying that "wiretapping" doesn't mean wiretapping.

Asked about Trump's totally unsubstantiated claims from March 4th that Obama was "wiretapping" him during the campaign, press secretary Sean Spicer offered two new explanations. First, that because the word wiretapping appears in quotation marks in two of the tweets, Trump did not mean a literal wiretap, but rather "broadly, surveillance and other activities." Second, that such "surveillance and other activities" had been reported on "in the New York Times, in the BBC and other outlets."

No government surveillance of Trump, of any kind, has been reported on in those publications. Trump almost certainly developed his "wiretapping" theories from a discredited article on the fringe right-wing site, which theorized about literal wiretaps. The FBI was aware of and investigating Trump campaign members' ties to Russia (and continues to do so), but no evidence of wiretapping has yet been presented by anyone--including Trump, who as president is now in a position to know.

As the Washington Post noted, Trump--like many people--often uses quotation marks in "nonstandard" ways. Spicer did not volunteer why it had taken him nine days to offer the "quotation mark explanation." Incidentally, two of the four tweets directly accuse Obama of tapping Trump, no quotation marks added.

Why should I "care?"

  • No explanation is better than one that insults Americans' intelligence.
  • A president who crafts elaborate stories about how he was misinterpreted, rather than admit he was mistaken, is not emotionally stable enough for the job.