For the past five days, Donald Trump’s unfounded accusations that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower have dominated political news. If Trump wanted to distract people from Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal, he would have met that goal, but this was simply a Trump tantrum. His outburst’s timing suggests that he was angry about the Sessions story and began lashing out at the most convenient target, Obama. And he fueled his rage with a right-wing conspiracy theory that he read on Breitbart about Obama running a “silent coup” against the new White House.
Immediately, Obama unequivocally issued a denial, but a new Wall Street Journal report states that he’s entirely exasperated with Trump, and the customary rapport between presidents shall be no more for them. Obama and Trump haven’t directly spoken since Inauguration Day, and thanks to Trump’s wild accusations — “This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!” — they won’t be doing lunch anytime soon:
The rapport between Barack Obama and Donald Trump is unraveling, with the president convinced that Mr. Obama is undermining his nascent administration and the former president furious over Trump tweets accusing him of illegal wiretapping, people close to the two men said.
Keeping a low profile in post-presidency, Mr. Obama had decided he wouldn’t respond to every intemperate Trump tweet, an aide said.
But he was livid over the accusation that he bugged the Republican campaign offices, believing that Mr. Trump was questioning both the integrity of the office of the president and Mr. Obama himself, people familiar with his thinking said.
Can anyone blame Obama? Every other president (in recent history) has managed to keep a lid on differences and avoid a “feud” with his predecessor, but Trump is, well, a different beast. Not only that, but former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was quick to deny any surveillance of Trump, whose words not only chip away at presidential integrity but that of the intelligence community, too. And FBI Director James Comey asked the Justice Department to publicly refute the accusations, although there’s currently not a high-enough-ranking official in the department to do so.
The White House’s near silence in the days following Trump’s tweet also speaks how his close aides didn’t know how to cope with an outburst that was truly outrageous, even for him. The administration kept Kellyanne Conway quiet and chose to send out Mike Huckabee’s daughter, who simply tried to deflect and mitigate the damage before Spicer eventually admitted that Trump won’t take back his accusations until they’re investigated. So, he definitely won’t be apologizing to Obama.
(Via Wall Street Journal)