The wagon-circling campaign to protect Obama administration and intelligence community officials who surveilled Donald Trump and his transition team during his presidential campaign and post-victory transition is moving into hyperdrive. On Monday, CNN's Don Lemon proclaimed that "there is no evidence whatsoever" supporting Donald Trump's claim about having been "spied on illegally" (note the inclusion of the word "illegally," which is crucial), and declared that he would not "aid and abet the people who are trying to misinform you."
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Lemon's stridency as he delivered his rant on CNN Tonight appeared to betray "he protests too much" behavior, while subsequent events have further undermined his there's-nothing-there position.
The video segment which follows is an early Tuesday replay of what originally appeared Monday evening:
Transcript (bolds are mine):
DON LEMON, CNN: It has been on month since the President of the United States falsely tweeted that former President Barack Obama wiretapped him.
Let's stop there. At that point, CNN's video shows the last of Trump's four March 4 tweets. Here are all four of them (links to originals are here, here, here and here), in order of when they appeared, with the final one boxed in red to tag the one CNN showed:
The first and third tweets, with "wires tapped" and "wire tapping" in quotes, with spaces between the two words, should make it clear that Trump was referring to how the intelligence community characterizes wiretapping, which is basically all forms of electronic surveillance. Naturally, CNN chose to show the tweet with a spelling error and a reference only to phones. Sorry, Don and CNN, Trump's understanding of what wiretaps really are is more up to date than yours.
Continuing the transcript:
DON LEMON: One month later, the White House and the President are still trying to make a lie true — and they're using the President's Twitter account, the White House press briefing podium, and right-wing media to do it.
Today it's the claim that President Obama's former national security adviser Susan Rice unmasked the names of Trump associates. We will talk about that in detail in just a moment on this very program.
And last week, it was a debunked talking point that former Obama administration official Evelyn Farkas admitted spying on the Trump team. She did not such thing.
The week before that it was Representative Devin Nunes's clumsy effort to give the President cover for wiretapping claims.
The President said he was vindicated by Nunes. He was not.
The Washington Post today calls the latest claims about Susan Rice "Anatomy of a Fake Scandal Ginned up by Right-Wing Media and Trump."
So let us be very clear about this: There is no evidence whatsoever that the Trump Team was spied on illegally. There is no evidence that backs up the President's original claim.
And on this program tonight, we will not insult your intelligence by pretending otherwise, nor will we will aid and abet the people who are trying to misinform you, the American people, by creating a diversion.
Not gonna do it.
Note that Lemon revised Trump's original to claim that he was spied on (i.e., "had my" — and obviously his team's — "wires tapped") to whether "the Trump Team was spied on illegally."
That's a de facto admission that Trump was spied on (otherwise, why add the extra word?), meaning that the only open question is whether that acknowledged spying was legal.
It's also an admission, despite Lemon's "doth protest too much" heated claim to the contrary, that Trump was right on March 4. Thanks, Don.
If anything, given evidence that this spying continued after Trump's November election victory, Trump's tweets, which focused on on the election campaign, understated the time frame of the mischief.
Since Lemon's program, we have learned that Rice allegedly "maintained spreadsheets of their (the Trump campaign's) telephone calls." Gosh, if true, that even passes the old-fashioned definition of "wiretapping."
Try as they might, it seems that Lemon and his establishment press cohorts will have a hard time turning these and likely additional future bitter developments relating to Team Obama's election campaign and Trump transition conduct into lemonade.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.