The White House on Monday walked back a key point of President Donald Trump’s baseless allegation that President Barack Obama wiretapped his phones in Trump Tower during the 2016 election. Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that the President didn’t mean “wire tapping” when he said “wire tapping” as it was in quotes. Spicer said, “The President used the word wiretaps in quotes to mean, broadly, surveillance and other activities.”
Spicer also said that Trump was referring to the Obama administration broadly, and not accusing Obama of personal involvement, when he tweeted that “Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower” and accused Obama of being a “bad” or “sick guy.”
Backtracking something strange the President has tweeted is not new for this Administration. What is strange is how thin the excuses have become. Even in a political landscape that includes Trump spokespeople using “alternate facts,” there has been at least the attempt at rationality. This recent rewriting of history takes that to a new level.
Forget for the moment that Trump doesn’t use quotation marks correctly and this would be the first time ever. Forget how insane it sounds for the President of the United States to be such a terrible communicator. How did it take a full week for an explanation to come out? And how can the Trump Administration expect people to believe such an excuse? Do people believe such an excuse?
Spicer’s comments came on the same day as the deadline for the Justice Department to provide evidence to the House Intelligence Committee to back up Trump’s claim. The White House has refused to provide any evidence, and several former officials have denied the existence of any warrant to wiretap Trump Tower.
It is believed Trump read about the wiretapping in one of the articles his staff gives him from Info Wars or Breitbart News, two sites known for stories with little or no basis in fact.
Of course Sean Spicer was not the only White House official to provide a different definition of the word “wiretap” despite Trump’s clear language.