Sure that phone's not tapped, Mr. President?
Sure that phone’s not tapped, Mr. President?

Image: AP/REX/Shutterstock

As is custom in the United States, we wake up, yawn, remember that it’s 2017, grab our phones, and then, bleary-eyed, go on Twitter to see what messages our president has hastily tapped that will rule our lives for the next 24 hours.

And on Saturday, like clockwork, President Donald Trump was at it again, tweeting  about “wire tapping.”

The president appears to believe that former President Barack Obama—a favorite target of Trump’s—had directed a “wire tapping” operation at Trump Tower in New York City, where Trump spent the majority of his time before he moved south to Washington, D.C.

And not that it should come as a surprise, but: The president’s tweets appear to be based on incorrect and/or incomplete information. 

UPDATE, 1:04 p.m. EST: Barack Obama has responded through spokesperson Kevin Lewis with a statement to Buzzfeed News, refuting Trump’s claims. The statement reads:

“A cardinal rule of the Obama Administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice. As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.”

Of course, the idea that Obama directed an operation to listen in on communications at Trump Tower is dubious at best. 

And then there’s the fact that—according to The Washington Post—folks at the White House were passing around a Breitbart story on Friday, in which Breitbart cribbed a timeline from conservative radio host Mark Levin, that supposedly outlines when and how the Obama administration constructed a spy operation against then-candidate Trump. The story describes Obama’s supposed tactics as “police state” operations, and Trump described them as “McCarthyism.” So, if the dots are truly connected already: the president’s accusing a former president of “wire tapping” based on claims made by a conservative radio host, which were then cited in an article in a publication formerly run by Steve Bannon, who’s now Trump’s chief advisor.

Of course, underlining all of this is the temptation to wonder whether or not Trump just admitted that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court had grounds to believe Trump associates were communicating with Russian officials from inside Trump Tower, and therefore, issued a warrant to gather communications. 

Who knows! But the fact remains that Trump associates were, in fact, repeatedly in contact with Russian officials prior to Trump’s inauguration. Meanwhile, the BBC’s reported that officials from the Department of Justice got a secret intelligence FISA warrant back in October to look into two Russian banks (though Trump wasn’t named). Rumors and hints about other possible FISA warrants have swirled like a tornado that may, at any moment, make a sharp turn right into the Trump administration, whose ties to Russia have already cost them an appointee and the political loss that is Jeff Sessions having to recuse himself from any investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia. 

But the idea that Trump’s own phone was “tapped” inside Trump Tower—as alleged by Trump himself—is still so explosive as to make all other truly wild stories about this administration seem like fond and distant memories of a calmer life. Such a warrant would mean the court believed there was a good chance Trump is an agent of a foreign country. 

So, depending on where your thoughts go from there, you should either purchase an English-to-Russian dictionary, or go back to eating your cereal, let alone your coffee, if you’ve even had it yet. 

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