It's been a couple of days since Donald Trump first alleged
that he'd "just found out" that former President Obama had tapped the Republican's phone before the election. Trump described this as a "fact," characterized it as a scandal along the lines of "Nixon/Watergate," and condemned his predecessor as a "bad (or sick) guy."
It's quickly becoming apparent that the president's latest conspiracy theory isn't true, and Trump's tantrum came in response to a report he saw on a right-wing website. But White House officials are nevertheless rolling out a series of arguments in support of their boss. Let's consider them one at a time:1. The White House won't comment
. Yesterday, Press Secretary Sean Spicer said
the administration wants Congress to review the nonsensical allegations, adding, "Neither the White House nor the President will comment further until such oversight is conducted." Just 43 minutes later, Spicer ignored his own declaration and started commenting further
. Several of his White House colleagues have also done interviews on the story.
In other words, when the White House press secretary said no one from Trump's team would comment on the story, the truth was pretty much the opposite.2. Trump believes what he's saying
. On NBC this morning, White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said
in reference to Trump's anti-Obama allegations, "I think the president firmly believes it did [happen]." That may be true, but Trump firmly believes all sorts of strange things with no real connection to reality, so this is hardly compelling.
To be sure, insights like these matter in the context of the is-he-lying-or-is-he-bonkers debate, but what ultimately matters is whether the charges are true, not whether Trump thinks they're true. (Note, The Weekly Standard
, a conservative magazine, added
this morning, "White House sources acknowledge that Trump had no idea whether the claims he was making were true when he made them.")3. Secret evidence
. Kellyanne Conway told
Fox News this morning that Trump "has information and intelligence that the rest of us do not." That's generally true, but in this case, it's also irrelevant. When all available evidence suggests the president pushed a wild-eyed conspiracy theory -- which is to say, the latest in a series
of wild-eyed conspiracy theories embraced by Trump -- it rings hollow when a White House official effectively says, "There's secret evidence that you can't see." read more