In the days after Donald Trump erroneously accused his predecessor Barack Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower during the 2016 election, the White House “put out an all-points bulletin” to “find something that justified the President’s crazy tweets about surveillance,” The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza reports.
That bulletin eventually led to House Oversight Committee Chairman Devin Nunes’ “revelation” that former National Security Adviser Susan Rice “unmasked” the name of U.S. citizens related to the Trump transition team—a routine request with significant oversight in the intelligence community. As CNN reported last week, Democrats and Republicans who reviewed the material referenced by Nunes found “no evidence that Obama Administration officials did anything unusual or illegal.”
“The White House said, ‘We are going to mobilize to find something to justify the President’s tweet that he was being surveilled.’ They put out an all-points bulletin and said, ‘We need to find something that justifies the President’s crazy tweet about surveillance at Trump Tower,’” the source told Lizza. “And I’m telling you there is no way you get that from those transcripts, which are about as plain vanilla as can be.”
“They manufactured a scandal to distract from a serious investigation,” Democratic House Intelligence Committee member Eric Swalwell said.
But despite the bipartisan acknowledgement that there is no evidence to support Trump’s claim that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower, Republican members on the House Intelligence Committee still plan to focus on the Obama Administration in their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
According to one source, while Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee plan to call Trump campaign officials linked to Russia as witnesses, “the Republican list is almost entirely people from the Obama Administration.”