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Monday, March 20, 2017

The Emperor is not only naked, he's not an emperor....

One of the few times I've agreed with Ted Cruz

So this is what we have on the wiretapping claim President Trump made 2 weeks ago:

“Judge Andrew Napolitano commented on the morning show Fox & Friends that he has sources that say British intelligence was involved in surveillance at Trump Tower,” Smith explained on Friday afternoon’s newscast. “Fox News cannot confirm the judge’s commentary. Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the President of the United States was surveilled at any time in any way—full stop.” Moments later, Fox News issued a statement saying, “Judge Napolitano stands by his report on Fox & Friends.”

The only person confirming Napolitano's statement is:  Napolitano.  And now we know where he got his information:

On March 13, Napolitano told hosts of Fox News' Fox & Friends that Obama circumvented the American intelligence community to ask "the British spying agency" for "transcripts of conversations involving candidate Trump" without "American fingerprints." Napolitano's claims were cited by White House press secretary Sean Spicer while defending Trump's baseless claims that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential election.

On March 14, Media Matters uncovered the link between Napolitano's claims and an interview Johnson gave to RT. The New York Times confirmed Media Matters'  reporting that Napolitano used Johnson as "one of the sources" for his "claim about British intelligence." The Times also noted Johnson's direct involvement in spreading false rumors that video existed of Michelle Obama using a racial slur against white people. 
If you're checking your calendar, Media Matters uncovered that connection the next day.  The Grey Lady in New York finally confirmed it four days later.  It also brings Russia back into it, the country that seems to figure so prominently in every scandal involving Donald Trump.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) told "Meet the Press" on March 19 that Trump's claims were "patently false."  Which is polite public-speak for "lies."

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) continues to dance on the edge of the abyss, almost but not quite saying "It depends on what the meaning of 'is' is:"

“Was there a physical wiretap of Trump Tower? No, there never was,” Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said on “Fox News Sunday.” “The information we got on Friday continues to lead us in that direction.” 

Which doesn't rule out the government simply listening to Trump's calls through other means, like the microwave oven.

Nunes also said that “there was no warrant that I’m aware of” authorizing any wiretapping of Trump Tower, confirming what top intelligence officials under Obama have also determined.

But Nunes put it in carefully crafted weasel-speak, because we are all lawyers now, or at least True Witnesses, a concept from Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land.  So we cannot say what we do not know, and Rep. Nunes is not saying there is no warrant; only that, as a True Witness, he is not aware of one.  Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, ya know.  It isn't evidence of presence, either, but it does allows us to keep wondering about that mysterious concept of "presence," doesn't it?

The next level of this will be that the DOJ doesn't produce a warrant, which will be explained as one was not found; not that one was never requested or issued.  It's a simple matter:  if a warrant was issued, it would leave a paper trail, or at least an electronic one.  But to say one was not found, that no one knows of one being issued, is to imply that, like the Ark of the Covenant, it's in a box in some government warehouse and the filing information has been "misplaced," so how can you prove it never existed?  Without the presence of the evidence, we can only speculate as to where the evidence is, or is not, present, hmmmm?

Josh Marshall says the problem is we are talking about this, instead of talking about a President who lies so flagrantly and publicly that even foreign leaders are getting splattered with it.  He has a point, but the answer is not, as some think (not JMM), to ignore the story.  We cannot selectively ignore and pay attention to what the President of the United States says.  One of the burdens of the office is to e selective about what you say, a burden Trump refuses to recognize.

If we don't pay attention to the consequences of his actions, who will?  But we can do it and reject the weasel words of those who would defend the Liar-in-Chief by refusing to acknowledge the nakedness of his lies.

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