This weekend, President Donald Trumpraged against the previous administration on Twitter, alleging former President Barack Obama had ordered electronic surveillance at Trump Tower during the 2016 election.
Blasting the alleged wire tapping as "McCarthyism" and comparing it to President Richard Nixon's Watergate scandal, Trump fired off tweets Saturday against the "bad (or sick)" president.
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
Is it legal for a sitting President to be "wire tapping" a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
I'd bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
But if Trump's claim seems out of left field, it is. Or rather, right field.
Conservative radio talk show host Mark Levin sparked the fire Thursday, when he accused Obama of orchestrating a "silent coup" against Trump, and said the former president's "police state" actions should be the subject of a congressional investigation, not the administration's Russia problem.
Right-wing news source Breitbart picked up the story Friday, and traced it back to a June 2016 request by the former administration to monitor Trump and some of his advisors, which was denied.
After WikiLeaks dropped emails from the Democratic National Committee that purported to show an effort to block Sen. Bernie Sanders from winning the party's nomination, Trump called on Russia to "find the 30,000 emails that are missing" from Hillary Clinton's personal server, theBreitbart report said.
When WikiLeaks released a batch of emails from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta in October, Obama's administration submitted another request to find a link between a computer server in Trump Tower and Russian banks. There was no evidence of a link, but the surveillance continued, the report claimed.
By Saturday, Trump had started a public firestorm, that drew rebuttals from the prior administration.
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper denied Sunday that there had been any court-ordered wiretap of Trump Tower prior to the election.
Obama's former foreign policy adviser Ben Rhodes deinied the claims on Twitter, too, saying "no president can order a wiretap."
Kevin Lewis, the former president's spokesman, also denied the claims in a statement, calling it "simply false."
There's no evidence Levin and Breitbart, the site once led by Steve Bannon, now the White House chief strategist, influenced the president's tweeting, but it's also not the first time the Trump has spread unsubstantiated claims, and ignored the advice of intelligence officials and top aides.
Trump has repeatedly asserted that more than 3 million people voted against him illegally, giving Clinton the popular vote in November, despite no evidence that would support the claim.