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President Donald Trump, under increasing fire about his possible ties to Russia and how that affected last November’s election, went on a Twitter rant early Saturday morning in which he accused former President Barack Obama of tapping his phones and called him “a bad (or sick guy).”
The first meeting Jeff Sessions had with the Russian Amb was set up by the Obama Administration under education program for 100 Ambs......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
Just out: The same Russian Ambassador that met Jeff Sessions visited the Obama White House 22 times, and 4 times last year alone.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
Is it legal for a sitting President to be "wire tapping" a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
I'd bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
While this rant seemingly came from nowhere, Politico linked it back to conservative talk radio host Mark Levin who said Thursday that Obama had used “police tactics” to try to hurt Trump as his presidential campaign neared its end. Levin said the Obama administration got court authorization to spy on Trump Towers, and he called it a “silent coup” by Obama.
That led right-wing website Breitbart to run a 989-word story on Levin’s accusations on Friday. Then, Trump tweeted early Saturday morning.
The New York Times reported in January that when the FBI, the National Security Agency, and the CIA were investigating the possible ties between members of the Trump campaign and Russia, they had examined “intercepted communications and financial transactions” as part of their investigation. Those wiretapped communication then were reportedly provide to the White House.
But that wouldn’t have been Obama ordering an apparent wiretapping on Trump Tower.
Fact check: President Obama did not order wire taps -- that would be James Comey, head of the FBI. https://t.co/R8sOmgpG8P— Alex Wagner (@alexwagner) March 4, 2017
Now, though, there’s this question about whether Trump just revealed previously classified information.
13/ Interesting addendum- Donald's tweets this morning may have in fact declassified the existence of the wiretap https://t.co/pk4AdRyXLn— Justin Hendrix (@justinhendrix) March 4, 2017
Update 8:39am CT: This is how a top Obama aide responded to Trump’s charges.
No President can order a wiretap. Those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you. https://t.co/lEVscjkzSw— Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) March 4, 2017
Update 12:12pm CT: Another Obama spokesman has weighed in on Trump’s accusations.
Statement from Obama office, denies Trump's Twitter accusation (for which he produced no evidence and apparently stems from right-wing news) pic.twitter.com/IyuEv39z9Q— Domenico Montanaro (@DomenicoNPR) March 4, 2017
Josh Katzowitz is a staff writer at the Daily Dot specializing in YouTube and boxing. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. A longtime sports writer, he's covered the NFL for CBSSports.com and boxing for Forbes. His work has been noted twice in the Best American Sports Writing book series.