Donald Trump
Credit: Michael Vadon/Flickr

This could get interesting:

The House intelligence committee asked the executive branch to provide by Monday any evidence to support President Donald Trump’s claim that his phones were tapped at Trump Tower during the election, a senior congressional aide said Saturday.

Here’s how this went down. Some unnamed aide stuck a typically baloney Breitbart article into Trump’s reading material, claiming that Obama personally ordered a wiretap on Trump during the campaign. Trump, being the reactive hothead he is, not knowing how to sift good information from bad and not understanding that the President doesn’t actually have the power to “order a wiretap”, freaked out on Twitter before going golfing again. The White House communications team tried to figure out how best to contain the damage, and came up with the idea of punting to Congress to have them “investigate” whatever flights of fancy the President decided to ignorantly tweet about.

But Congress isn’t playing ball. Not even Republicans on the intelligence committee are interested in bailing Trump out of his own self-inflicted mess.

Trump’s team now has less than 24 hours to come up with some sort of plausible evidence backing up their claims. That will be difficult, because everyone knows Trump has no evidence. Either intelligence agencies aren’t/weren’t surveiling Trump associates for Russia connections, or there was enough evidence of wrongdoing for federal judges to issue a FISA warrant despite the obvious gravity and political sensitivity of the target. Neither option is good for Trump. The President’s team cannot prove a negative, and they can’t legally get access to FISA court records pertaining to themselves.

The likeliest scenario here is that Trump won’t even try to present confirmation to Congress. Instead he’ll blast the intelligence committee for being low-energy and not looking hard enough for evidence of Obama wrongdoing, and perhaps attack the “deep state” again. Then he’ll forget about the whole thing, and maybe even pat himself on the back for exposing the “controversy.” And then everyone will get distracted by the next flaming Hindenburg pinata the White House floats into the sky.

If the press does its job, it won’t let the matter slide. A sitting president accusing his predecessor of Watergate-level wrongdoing is a very big deal. Doing so without evidence is an even bigger deal, and probably an impeachable offense on its own.

Trump must provide evidence for his claims. And if he doesn’t, he must be held accountable by Congress, the press and the American people for his baseless and dangerous accusations.

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Follow David on Twitter @DavidOAtkins. David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.