President Donald Trump and his son hyped a misleading report, based on White House leaks, to back his claims about an illegal wiretap.
The president accused his predecessor, Barack Obama, of ordering a wiretap of Trump Tower ahead of the election — and the White House has leaked intelligence documents to a Republican lawmaker and the so-called “meme mastermind of the alt-right” in order to prove Trump’s claims.
The latest round of reports, which originated with right-wing conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich, claim Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, ordered the “unmasking” of Trump campaign associates ensnared in U.S. surveillance of foreign agents.
Trump, and his eldest son, have trumpeted the report — which was picked up by Bloomberg’s Eli Lake and then amplified in other conservative media outlets — as vindication of the president’s claims, which have been debunked by various lawmakers, intelligence officials and federal investigators.
The president retweeted a link shared Tuesday morning by the Drudge Report’s Twitter account, promoting a story about Rice posted on the conservative Daily Caller website.
RICE ORDERED SPY DOCS ON TRUMP? https://t.co/bL2nZRFxk9# p #6_14 # ad skipped = true #
— DRUDGE REPORT (@DRUDGE_REPORT) April 4, 2017# p #7_14 # ad skipped = true #
Donald Trump Jr. suggested Cernovich — a rape apologist and white nationalist who promoted “Pizzagate” conspiracy theories and reported Hillary Clinton had Parkinson’s disease — should win the Pulitzer Prize for his report.
# p #10_14 # ad skipped = true #
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) April 4, 2017# p #11_14 # ad skipped = true #
Fox News — and then Trump — hyped the allegations against Rice, a longtime target of conservative ire, although intelligence experts have said the national security adviser should have requested the identities of Americans potentially conspiring against the U.S. with foreign agents.
“What we’re seeing here is US officials doing jobs to respond to what had markers of a counterintelligence threat: the Trump campaign,” said Susan Hennessey, a Brookings Institution fellow.