Trump covers Rockwell: Sometimes it Feels like, Obama’s Watching You

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Donald Trump is angry at his predecessor, former president Barack Obama, this weekend. He says he discovered (from the digital toilet paper ‘Breitbart,’ apparently) that a FISA court ordered a wire tap of Trump Tower in fall of 2016, and that it continued even though investigators never found anything. He said Obama ordered the wire tap, and that it was outrageous and was a form of McCarthyism. (Good to know that even far right wing white supremacist billionaires can agree that Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s persecution of the American Left in the 1950s was wrong).

Trump is developing an unhealthy and abnormal complex about Obama. He earlier blamed the former president for organizing town hall protests against Republican politicians who seek to abolish the Affordable Care Act, and of orchestrating embarrassing leaks from the Trump White House.

That is, in Trump’s paranoid mind, Michael Flynn was forced off the National Security Council by Obama smearing him as a Russian agent rather than by Flynn’s discussion of sanctions with the Russian ambassador, about which he repeatedly lied. And Little Marco Rubio can’t have a town hall in Florida on health care legislation because . . . you guessed it, that busy, busy Obama.

I am frankly worried for Obama. Trump has large numbers of white supremacist and Neo-Nazi supporters, and if the president repeatedly accuses Obama of attempting to bring him down, it could create extreme danger for the former president.

Paranoia, by the way, is a symptom, not the disease itself. It could indicate clinical depression or a host of other disorders (it would be bad for a sitting president to have any of them).

As for the case at hand, as usual, Trump is wrong about just about everything. President Obama could not have ordered a wire tap all on his lonesome. The president does not have that authority, precisely in order to prevent abuse of the power of the office. And a former spokesman for Obama’s National Security Council, Ben Rhodes, categorically denied that the White House asked for wiretap on Trump or his campaign. On the other hand, he characterized Obama’s reticence as an avoidance of interference in a Justice Department or other investigation, so there may have been such a probe, but it wasn’t Obama doing it.

Loretta Lynch at the Department of Justice or James Comey at the FBI could have gone to the FISA court and asked for a warrant to monitor Trump and his people. The National Security Agency could also have sought such a warrant.

But the FISA court would not have granted a warrant unless whoever asked for it was able to present strong evidence that Trump was a) involved in something illegal or b) was acting as a foreign agent.

It is also possible that Trump and/or his people repeatedly called someone who was under surveillance on a FISA warrant, in which case their calls would also have been monitored.

What puzzles everyone is why Trump thinks he has to get this information from Rush Limbaugh or an alt-NeoNazi rag. He is the president. He could just ask for a briefing on the probe, if there was one.


Related video:

CNN: “Ben Rhodes fires back at Trump wiretap claims”

37 Responses

  1. You are right Prof. Cole, Obama has been blamed for many things going wrong in Trumps life, and for things Trump brought upon himself, and should be careful that some insane deplorable with a weapon does not take his anger out of him. The US is going through turmoil, and instead of uniting the nation and trying to lead, this man spends his time staying up early hours of the morning and going on a twitter tirade, making things up, with no evidence, and accusing Obama of what officials call “nonsense”. I guess when your staff is being investigated for what may become Russia gate, you have to try to make the nation look the other way.
    This man is insane, and it is frightening to think this country is in the hands of a lunatic.

  2. This guy is unhinged, and so manifestly unqualified to be President that it bears no further discussion.

    What remains is to try to anticipate how things are going to collapse or explode in ways we can only begin to imagine over THE NEXT FOUR YEARS!!!

    And yes, Obama is in real danger, and not just from the common Yahoos. Note that his AG has a long and well-documented history of political prosecution (see the current Guardian article.). Obama and HRC both need be be taking real care, as should we all.

  3. It’s worth noting the FISA court record of approvals shows it to be a rubber stamp, although for a political target they’d be bound to be far more circumspect.

    Is it too much to hope for, that Trump etal could conceive of using the power of the Presidency to address the potentials for surveillance abuse constructively?

  4. Mr. Cole. It is not even clear what/who the target of the FISA warrant was. Perhaps Trump knows and that is why he is upset and angry. You do not know.

    • O Yah, Trump knows every thing.

      Obama is not American. He was born in Kenya. Trump’s guys discovered treasure trove on Obama in Hawaii.

  5. Perhaps he wants to foment racial conflict to justify deporting brown and killing black, leaving the now swarthy white to root out and dispose of the remaining traitorous left, including leftist Jews in the US who are no longer welcome in Bibi’s Israel. He’ll then ally with Russia to bring down China, invade and cleanse europe, and nuke the rest of the planet in order to repopulate with white conservative types. Pretty much the plot of the Turner Diaries, a horrible book held dear by horrible people.

    • The only part I disagree with is the leftist Jews not being welcome to immigrate. Quite the opposite. As happened with the ’30s Zionist movement and the Nazis, the former had an interest in having the latter terrorize Jews of all political stripes into emigrating, because there were so few places that would take them.

      It is predictable to people like Netanyahu that if his ally Trump forces liberal Jews to flee to their last resort, they will become loyal to him out of the certainty that he at least will protect them at all costs.

      And this fits with a recurring theme of racist ideology, from the Nazis to South Africa to the modern anti-immigrant Right, that races “belong” in their natural homelands… unless two races happen to have a history in the same turf in which case the liars go to work. Once Israel’s future is supposedly secure and The Lobby no longer needed, its Zionists will be quite happy for Bannon to lead an American pogrom against Jewish voters.

  6. “What puzzles everyone is why Trump thinks he has to get this information from Rush Limbaugh or an alt-NeoNazi rag. ”
    I think we know the answer to this- fanning the flames of Obama hate keeps his base engaged.
    Frankly, I don’t think it would be unreasonable to begin impeachment proceedings against Obama over this issue!

  7. Mr Trump is an ignorant uninformed man who lack the intellectual or academically trained, or otherwise trained, discipline to be able to distinguish reliable sources of information from those that are not.

    He, from all indications, lacks the patience to read more very small amounts, and, for one reason or another, probably lack of patience, prefers to get his information from television where he is addicted to right wing commentators and seems to have preference for Fox News.

    Right wing radio commentator Mark Levin had made the charge that Obama had been wiretapping the Trump Tower before the election only hours before Trump tweeted the same claim. Mr Levin provided no more evidence for this claim than did Mr Trump himself.

    His motivation for initiating the seven Muslim nation ban was similarly uninformed. It is very unlikely that Trump was aware that there had been no terrorist attacks in the US perpetuated by immigrants deriving from any of the seven Muslim nations on his ban list because that is opposite the bombastic messaging from Breitbart and other right wing commentators.

    Rather than asking the Dept of Homeland Security for a review of the Seven Muslim Nation ban before attempting to implement it, he requested a review only after the failed initiation primarily to find justification for the policy already decided upon..

    That review was undertaken by DHS, however, reach a conclusion contradiction the justification which Mr Trump sought.

    This report, by DHS, also contradicts Mr Trump’s claim during the political campaign that Mexican entering the US were, “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

    But the belief otherwise is the constant message blared from the xenophobic, Islamophobic right wing TV, radio, and online sources which Trump prefers to competent intelligence report by US government agencies.

    That factual verification ought to be the basis for trustworthy belief is an ideal which apparently Mr Trump has never thought of.

    Donald Trump, an unrepentant ignorant uninformed man is a greater danger to the US than any immigrant from a Muslim country .

  8. A couple of possibilities come to mind. Perhaps the IS are pushing back against disclosing an active investigation involving the President. Or perhaps Trump is descending into full-on paranoia (not uncommon, as I understand it).

    Minor nit: you may mean Rockwell; not The Police:
    link to

  9. The more Trump screams about these things the more we are inclined to believe that he actually did collude with Russia to win the election and that he has something to hide with his taxes.

  10. Given Roy Cohn’s having been Donald J. Trump’s personal attack dog lawyer for a number of years, and surrogate father after Trump Senior’s death, I doubt Donald J. has the least actual objection to McCarthyism. In fact, Cohn was around Trump Jr. long enough to totally corrupt his thinking – willingly on Trump’s part of course – and render Trump the real enemy of the people. Think of Cohn as the devil on Trump’s shoulder schooling him on how to live an evil life and get away with it. I’m assuming Bannon has stepped in to replace Cohn’s agitation and guidance.

  11. Thom Hartmann – watch the intent

    Trump’s intent is to create a frame

    People try rational arguments to counter his lies

    What is remembered is the original statement.

    I can’t get out of my mind the several thousand dollar haircut of Bill Clinton while waiting on a runway.

    Here is Thom Hartmann on another one of Trump’s lies – namely that 3 million illegal voters voted. This is a total, flat out lie.

    Tom talks about Hannah Arendt and the origins of totalitarianism then most of the segment is Milton Meyer’s book “They thought they were free.” It describes the incremental changes that Hitler made that ordinary people went along with and finally they realized what had happened.

    This is the tactic of Trump and Steve Bannon. And they are masters of the news cycle.

    Here is Thom Hartmann’s 13 min video with the title “The Origins of Totalitarianism”

    link to

      • Agree with Grumpy

        “people really need to read Arendt’s entire work to know what is going on.

        Before that, people need to read, and then to read Arendt

        A friend teaching a history of technology class in WA state. In his 3 classes, no one had heard of the League of Nations. And only a few knew something about the United Nations.

        I was straightening some books today and read a little of Chambers Johnston. His blow back trilogy also explains a lot of what has happened in the War On Terror (*TM). Rather than take his advice that the US needs to dismantle its empire to survive, because being imperialist abroad and “democratic” at home does not work, it looks like Trump is going to double down on military solutions which have created the current problems.

    • Let’s not over-intellectualize President A••clown’s motives? The Obama LIE merely serves to distract Congress and empower his toadies within to focus investigations on something other than maladministration TREASON(s) with Russia.

      A good comment, nevertheless. FAUXNews does his frameworks, btw.

      • Re: distracting Congress.
        Indeed. The Republican Congress has been refusing to investigate the Russian connection, in any of its many and burgeoning manifestations for months now – but they’ve leapt right into starting up an investigation of the bogus Obama Wiretapping. And Hillary’s email server. BENGHAZI!!!

  12. Trump has a long list of Obama errors that he could legitimately use to criticize the former president. Violating international law to attack Yemen is one.

  13. The reason he doesn’t simply ask for a briefing is because then he would get accurate information, and then he wouldn’t be able to tweet a bunch of made-up BS. They’ve got a perfect set-up: Publish an article in the White House’s own propaganda vehicle (Breitbart), then cite that article as the source of your accusation. If Fox News can be normalized as legitimate journalism, why not Breitbart?

  14. This is not too surprising. My suspicion is he’s starting a meme that his supporters will really go for and before you know it NPR will be debating the amount of prison time a former president should get for interfering in an election – and that former president will be Obama, not Trump.

    Absurdity is a feature, not a bug, of authoritarianism, and the more outrageous the better. And now this morning we have the White House staff calling for an investigation and Spicer blathering about how reports (!) of Obama’s interference in the election are “very troubling”. On its face this appears to be an attempt to distract from the steady drip of bad news for this administration, but I am fearful there is much more to it than just a false flag operation to relieve the Orange Caligula of his Russia troubles.

    I am guessing that he and the White House are sincere and that this is a genuine attempt to persecute those he perceives to be his political enemies under false “legal” pretenses, and has the added bonus of offering up the first African American president to the Orange Caligula’s white hooded supporters.

    We heard “lock her up” throughout the campaign and Caligula a l’Orange has been intent for years in getting revenge on Obama because Caligula a l’Orange has, well, ZERO sense of humor (beware people who don’t drink, laugh, or have animal companions, in one or any combination of those three) and Obama, say what you will, had a pretty good comedic sensibility (plus two dogs). But as the last month has shown, and as many of us already knew, when an authoritarian says he is going to do something, believe him (or her).

    And so it begins. And if he succeeds, who will want to oppose him in four years if for your efforts you do time? I could be very wrong, and I hope I am, but I think this is the start of something far more sinister and is intentionally obfuscating. He is not the only one to blame – we will never forget or forgive McConnell’s and Ryan’s and the Orange Caligula’s minions’, and the GOP’s support for him, nor should we. But at this late date, do we really think the GOP above investigating Obama and ignoring President Little Boots?

  15. David T. Beito

    “But the FISA court would not have granted a warrant unless whoever asked for it was able to present strong evidence that Trump was a) involved in something illegal or b) was acting as a foreign agent.”

    What??? Those FISA’s Courts are notorious rubber stamps.

  16. 45, when he feels attacked, follows Roy Cohn’s teaching and attacks back, harder.

    Nobody much cared about Schumer having doughnuts with Kislyak.

    Therefore he had to blitzkrieg by dropping a big bomb of a claim. It is apparent that he doesn’t care where the claim originates, who said it, or whether there is any evidence.

    Evidence is irrelevant to Trump. Somebody said it, he believes it, and that’s all the evidence he needs. Say it loud, say it often, and propaganda and delusion are REAL.

    I pray that the his football of nuclear codes are all fake.

  17. Is Trump cause or effect? You have to look at the people who voted for him. If what they really fear is not illegals or Moslems but the overall reduction of Whites to a mere plurality, if they are willing to commit Hitlerian crimes to maintain a near-monopoly of police and discriminatory power against minorities, then Trump is simply making them comfortable with what they really want.

    And that requires a 9/11 – Reichstag Fire level casus belli to justify war, not on other countries this time, but on half of America. A war that will not stop until this country looks, at best, like Apartheid South Africa.

    The mistake we’ve all made is to assume that this evil does not lurk in more than a few American hearts. Survey questions are hopeless when Americans can twist the meanings of words sufficiently to hand power to Trump. And they’re still going to be there when he’s dead.

    • Several points to consider . . .

      – White Christian Americans are losing economic power. But not because of the “others” but because technology is eliminating most human work. This can NOT be reversed.

      – Rural (mostly white christian) America is depopulating because there is not enough economic activity to support more than a minimal population. People just do not want to live in rural areas and there is no reason for any business to operate there.

      – Most of the world is non-white and non-christian so the possibility of white christians being dominate is a delusion. There is no reason for white christians to retain power.

      The bottom line is the last vestiges of the old white christian empires (UK, french, Spanish, dutch and USA) are quickly dying off and white christians are indeed losing economic, political and social power and they do not like being part of the riff-raff. They will brutally fight to the bitter end , but will lose eventually,. Unfortunately they will damage themselves a lot in the process.

      The flow of power constantly changes throughout history with no single group retaining power for very long, but each group that loses power resists the loss of power.

  18. My question is: if Trump doesn’t have proof of his accusation, does this meet the level of legally actionable slander/libel?

  19. Greetings, Dr. Cole. Actually, paranoia has its own mental illness diagnosis. Look for Paranoid Personality Disorder in Cluster A. In addition, it is a key trait in Schizophrenia, Paranoid type. Diagnoses of this kind are commonly found along side Narcissist Personality Disorder. In my mind, Paranoid PD makes complete sense. People with PPD suffer an unrelenting mistrust and suspicion of others, even when there is no reason to be suspicious. I think we are witnessing this in our POTUS.

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