On a Saturday morning a few weeks ago, conspiracy theory-obsessed President Donald Trump dove headfirst into yet another one, asserting on Twitter that former President Obama “had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory.”
The accusation, possibly inspired by a Breitbart article, said Obama had violated federal law and spied on him during the election.
Monday marked the death of this conspiracy theory.
According to congressional sources, the House Intelligence Committee — which Trump had previously asked to investigate his baseless claim — set today as the deadline for the Department of Justice to provide any evidence at all in support of the accusation. They have received no such evidence. Even as Kellyanne Conway attempted again to defend Trump’s claims in the press, this time by asserting that the government has the ability to spy on people via microwave ovens, the Trump administration failed to substantiate the tweet.
Asked about the House Intelligence Committee’s deadline in his press briefing Monday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was evasive. He declined to say whether President Trump is under any obligations to provide evidence for his claim (which, again, would have the public believe that a former president conducted domestic espionage in a fashion that violates numerous federal laws and procedures) and gave vague deflections to other “reports” that have been in the news. If anything, his answer gave more credence to the Breitbart explanation.
“There has been numerous reports from a variety of outlets over the last couple months that seem to indicate that there has been different types of surveillance that occurred during the 2016 election,” said Spicer.
Pressed by a reporter as to whether Trump, since the tweet was his, was under any obligation to provide the evidence that influenced his accusation, Spicer deflected to the Department of Justice.
“So what you’re saying is the president doesn’t have an obligation to provide any evidence?” asked Major Garrett, of CBS.
“No, I’m not saying that at all,” said Spicer. “What I’m saying is the request that was made from the House was to the Department of Justice. I think that that’s an appropriate question to ask them.”
There should be no reason why President Trump, if he does indeed possess evidence that supports his accusation, would not feel compelled to present it. Others in government seem to feel the same way. “The President has one of two choices: either retract or provide the information that the American people deserve,” said Senator John McCain in a Sunday appearance on CNN’s Meet the Press. “I have no reason to believe that the charge is true, but I also believe that the President of the United States could clear this up in a minute.”
The fact that he has not done so can mean only one thing: President Trump’s wiretapping claim is dead in the water, regardless of how much the the social media public loves to latch on to conspiracy claims. If neither the president nor his Department of Justice can come up with any proof, then there’s nothing left to say.
Photos via Getty Images / Miguel Villagran