Wednesday, June 19, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He complained that it might have been possible to investigate Russia's attempts to get him elected even before he got elected.

In a phone call with Fox News host Sean Hannity today, Trump announced he'd ordered the FBI itself to be investigated for its attempts to curtail Russia's interference in the 2016 election, saying, "We're trying to figure out whether they listened to my calls."

It's certainly possible. For example, if then-candidate Trump had a phone conversation with his foreign policy advisor Carter Page, who was the subject of a FISA warrant, then the call would have been monitored. Page, whom Russian intelligence officials regarded as an ideologically sympathetic "idiot," was recruited before he joined the Trump campaign.

In an attempt to get out ahead of the story last year, Trump released a selectively redacted version of the FISA warrant. It was the first time any such document had ever been released to the public, since they contain information about the United States' counter-intelligence strategies.

In the past, Trump has falsely claimed that the Obama administration "tapped [his] wires," a claim he was unable to produce any evidence for. He's also attacked President Obama for not doing enough to stop Russia from influencing the election on his behalf.

The interview with Hannity appears to be part of Trump's ongoing attempt to change the Trump-Russia narrative, after a disastrous interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos last week. In that interview, Trump claimed it was all right to take help from foreign governments in an election, and that he wouldn't inform the FBI if a foreign power offered him "information." (In reality, it is illegal.)

Why does this matter?

  • The president is not above the law.
  • It's a good thing, not a bad thing, if the United States government tries to protect Americans from foreign spying.
  • People who complain about a thing being done and not being done may just be complaining for its own sake.