This weekend, President Trump was mostly up to his usual stuff, popping off on social media, peddling unfounded conspiracy theories to divert attention from stories he doesn’t like, and generally acting in an alarming, obnoxious manner. But this particular “Trump rants and rages” story might have lasting significance. According to numerous reports, James Comey, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, has asked the Justice Department to knock down Trump’s new claim that former President Obama ordered Trump’s phones to be wiretapped. Even for Trump, who has been busy rewriting the Presidential etiquette book since the day he was inaugurated, being labelled a liar by a major federal agency would be a first.

The saga began on Friday afternoon. Trump, reportedly furious at how stories about Jeff Sessions’s meetings with the Russian Ambassador had stepped on the good reviews he’d received for his address to Congress, threw a hissy fit at the White House. Then he left town for Mar-a-Lago—his fourth trip to his Florida waterfront resort in five weeks—leaving behind several members of his senior staff, including Reince Priebus, his chief of staff, and Steve Bannon, his chief strategist. Early Saturday morning, presumably from Mar-a-Lago, Trump took to Twitter and declared, “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory.” He didn’t provide any evidence to back up this claim, but he did say, “This is Nixon/Watergate,” and, in reference to Obama, he added, “Bad (or sick) guy!”

A political media storm ensued. On Saturday afternoon, a spokesman for Obama issued a statement that said, “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.”

On Sunday morning, James Clapper, who had been the director of National Intelligence under Obama, went on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and explicitly denied that any part of the national-security apparatus he’d overseen had obtained a court order to wiretap Trump Tower. There “was no such wiretap activity mounted against the President-elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign,” Clapper said.

Continue reading A bridge too far?