Another Week, Yet Another Tweet! This Time it’s Wiretapping!

Keeping Up with the Trump Administration is a upcoming series by the Dublin Shield about all the secrets, scandals, and tweets from the newly elected president.

A step into the past …

Before anyone condemns President Trump for his allegations against President Obama it’s important to remember that it is hardly unknown for a newly-elected president to attempt to deprecate the performance of their predecessor, especially when they are from a different party. Consider Franklin Delano Roosevelt attacking Herbert Hoover after the election of 1932, Ronald Reagan disparaging the decisions of Jimmy Carter after the election of 1989, and even more recently Barack Obama, who campaigned on the promise that he was the antithesis of George W. Bush. Of course, the majority of these presidents were accepting roles in a time of political turmoil: World War II, the Vietnam War, and in the case of Obama, a nearly uniform disapproval of the Bush presidency.

There’s a reason why this scenario feels different, however, President Trump isn’t condemning his predecessor’s policy or even ideals. Rather, through accusing Obama of wiretapping President Trump is accusing his predecessor of illegal activity, without presenting any evidence to support his claims.


The allegations at hand …

This past Saturday morning President Trump published a series of four tweets accusing his predecessor “wire tapping” Trump’s New York offices before the election in a move he compared to the Watergate scandal. President Trump referred to his predecessor as a “bad (or sick) guy!” making sure to note that the surveillance resulted in “nothing found.” 


The president offered no citations or credible news sources supporting his accusations, but it was later determined that the president was referring to commentary on Breitbart News, and a conservative talk radio that insinuated that the Obama administration employed “police state” tactics to monitor the president’s team last fall. Such an action would have been illegal, and would place the former president at risk for impeachment if they were true.


Reactions to the allegations of wiretapping …


The Republicans

When questioned about the president’s allegations, several prominent Republicans skated around questions, though they did suggest that if the president were airing serious concerns they would be willing to investigate the matter officially. For example, House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, one of Trump’s strongest supporters in the House and a member of his transition team, brushed aside the President’s allegations declaring that a lot of the president’s words “you guys take literally,” and that the president may not have been properly advised on the situation. Later on, Nunes redacted his stance instead responding to reporter’s questions with the claim that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn may have been wiretapped and that President Trump had raised “valid questions” about how his aides were listened in on, though President Trump’s allegations were of an entirely different topic.


The Democrats

The Democrats were quick to pounce on President Trump’s wild allegation, with several important Democratic figures condemning the president for his actions, and declaring that given his position, regardless of the situation, the president is not entitled to make uninformed decisions, an excuse employed by Republicans in the early reactions to the president’s tweets.


The Obama Administration

Former White House officials are strong denying the allegations of President Trump, though Obama himself is yet to make any statements on the situation. However, Obama’s spokesperson, Kevin Lewis has commented on the situation discussing the policies of the administration, and firmly denying the allegations.  


The Trump Administration

Similarly to the Republicans, the Trump administration appears to be at odds as to how to address the president’s allegations with even some of the president’s strongest and supporters torn on how to respond. President Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer deflected questions claiming the matter was above his “pay grade,” and consistently repeating “I’m not aware.” The vice president, Mike Pence, took another approach, declining to respond to whether or not he supported the president’s statements. Instead when reporter John Kosich asked, “Yes or no—do you believe that President Obama did that?” Pence answered, “Well, what I can say is that the president and our administration are very confident that the congressional committees in the House and Senate that are examining issues surrounding the last election, the run-up to the last election, will do that in a thorough and equitable way. They’ll look at those issues, they’ll look at other issues that have been raised.” The simple reality is that these allegations are so far stretched that even President Trump’s staunchest supporters stand unwilling to explicitly support the president’s words.


Students of Dublin High School

Below the Dublin Shield compiled quotes from students at Dublin High expressing their views on the situation:


“I think we need to consider all facets of the situation before making a conclusion. If our president said this then there may well be some merit behind these statements. He is making it a point to connect to the people through various social media outlets and we take advantage of this.”

  • Maxfield Marley, Freshman


“As an artist, I believe that everyone should be entitled to express their beliefs freely.”

  • Connor Diaz, Freshman


“Honestly, I find the entire situation ridiculously hilarious, but also excessively depressing.”

  • Anushka Bajaj, Sophomore


“Trump has no basis for his claims as they are unfounded and a direct attack towards our previous president.”

  • Ashlee Smith, Sophomore


“What is wiretapping?”

  • Anonymous, Junior


“If these allegations are a reflection upon our government we should be extremely concerned about the direction of  our country.”

  • Michelle Yun, Junior


“Donald Trump is the perpetrator of McCarthyism, not a victim of it.”

  • Vinootna Kakarala, Senior


A clear majority of students we interviewed at Dublin High were unaware of the president’s allegations on twitter, and those who were aware had a tendency to be unaware of the details of the issue. The students who did have an understanding of the situation were firmly opposed to the president’s actions, as is clearly seen in the quotes above. However, though the political environment at Dublin High School has a tendency to be strongly liberal, several students mentioned that they approved of and even joyed the president’s willingness to openly discuss policies and opinions on social media. Further, even some of the students who were explicitly against the president’s behaviour mentioned that they found the situation comedic, and entertaining.


When the joke begins to wear off …


When President Trump first posted his tweets the nation, and the world reacted with laughter. After all, they were accustomed to this behavior from Donald Trump from the very beginning of his campaign. They brushed aside the president’s allegations as a parlor trick to distract from the ongoing investigation into his connections to Russia. However, it’s important that eventually, the joke will wear off because after all these aren’t the words of a normal citizen that can be easily dismissed. No, these words come from the Commander in Chief of the world’s largest armed forces, the man with the keys to the “black box” which contains the codes for one of the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals, and the man who holds the highest elected office in the United States. After all, the President of the United State’s words are held in a far higher regard and hold a far greater power than that of an ordinary citizen. It is highly likely that Congress will consider subpoenaing  (a writ ordering a person to attend a court) the Obama administration’s records and launching an investigation into the president’s largely unfounded claims. As citizens of the United States of America, it’s imperative that we understand that the president’s words cannot be dismissed; regardless of public approval, they hold a considerable influence over political decisions. Now, as the Trump administration begins regrouping, and most likely developing a formal allegation against their preceding administration, the nation looks on with concern wondering how far this matter will go. What comes next?