Obama’s Watergate
Daniel J. Flynn
by

Vladimir Putin did not hack the election. Barack Obama did.

Donald Trump said earlier this year that the Obama Administration wiretapped his campaign. “Like I’d want to hear more from that fool?” President Obama scoffed.

But CNN reported on Monday, “US investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election…. The government snooping continued into early this year, including a period when Manafort was known to talk to President Donald Trump.”

The network labeled their story an exclusive. But, in fact, Breitbart, radio host Mark Levin, the realDonaldTrump Twitter account, and numerous other sources reported the wiretapping more than six months ago.

In the wake of the belated bombshell, other voices at CNN hung on, precariously but unabashedly, to the dated narrative.

In a story updated subsequent to CNN confirming the Obama administration’s surveillance on Manafort and noting his residence in Trump Tower, CNN reporter Manu Raju continued to characterize the president’s accusation affirmed by his network as Trump’s “unsubstantiated claim that Obama had Trump Tower wiretapped during the election to spy on him.” In March, Raju’s reporting consistently cast doubt on the president’s wiretapping charge.

CNN editor at large Chris Cillizza wrote an article, appearing the day after his network conceded the truth of the wiretap charge, entitled: “Donald Trump still has no evidence that his wiretapping claim was right.” In March, Cillizza wrote a piece in the Washington Post on Trump’s wiretap claim under the headline: “Donald Trump was a conspiracy-theory candidate. Now he’s on the edge of being a conspiracy-theory president.”

The media went all-in this spring on the notion that the loose-tongued Trump once again spoke without reference to the facts. Newsweek’s Nina Burleigh labeled his charge “incendiary.” The Los Angeles Times called it “a phony conspiracy theory.” PolitiFact bluntly judged his accusation “false.”

Who will fact check the fact checkers?

Rather than correct the record, egged-face journalists embark upon a face-saving effort. But the media whitewash stands as neither the only nor the most relevant cover up.

The all-smoke-no-fire Russia investigation looks increasingly like a smoke screen aimed to put out a very different fire. Rather than an investigation into malfeasance by the Trump campaign, does the Robert Mueller inquiry serve as a clean-up operation to justify Obama administration malfeasance? The bugging of the opposition party’s presidential campaign, at least when done by Republicans, ranks not only as criminal but as the biggest political scandal in American history.

Richard Nixon’s henchmen wore surgical gloves to avoid leaving clues for law enforcement. Barack Obama’s henchmen were law enforcement. This makes Obama worse, not better, than Nixon. At least Nixon’s plumbers possessed the decency to leave their skullduggery to lock pickers and burglars. Obama used law enforcement for opposition research. In Banana Republics, the cops double as the criminals. The unprecedented use of the Justice Department to commit injustice marks a sad moment for the republic. It is Watergate on steroids.

Accusations that hit the mark, rather wild ones wide of the target, provoke fierce denunciations, outcry, and Joe Welch, have-you-no-sense-of-decency moralizing. The category-5 storm that engulfed the president after he tweeted about government surveillance on his campaign indicated that he uncovered an inconvenient truth, not that he told an ignoble lie. No one flips out when a critic makes a fool of himself with his own words. People do so when the words threaten to make a fool of them.

The Obama administration using the considerable powers of the federal government to spy on a hated critic’s campaign sets a dangerous precedent. It provides future administrations a means to infiltrate the innermost circle of the opposition party’s presidential campaign. This merely requires the pretext of wrongdoing to engage in wrongdoing.

It also confirms something some Republicans have long suspected: Barack Obama regards his fellow Americans as the enemy. A government conducts surveillance on foreign enemies. When one conducts surveillance on domestic critics, the government shows itself as unfit to govern.

Daniel J. Flynn
Daniel J. Flynn
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Daniel J. Flynn, a senior editor of The American Spectator, is the author of Cult City: Harvey Milk, Jim Jones, and 10 Days That Shook San Francisco (ISI Books, 2018), The War on Football (Regnery, 2013), Blue Collar Intellectuals (ISI Books, 2011), A Conservative History of the American Left (Crown Forum, 2008), Intellectual Morons (Crown Forum, 2004), and Why the Left Hates America (Prima Forum, 2002). His articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, New York Post, City Journal, National Review, and his own website, www.flynnfiles.com.   
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