Paranoia—and a “Civilization Warping Crisis of Public Trust”

As we all know, news comes in two categories.

Dog Bites Man

Lots of that this weekend: more Russian shoes dropping, lots of conflicting opinions about how the dropping shoes should be investigated, continuing legislative chaos.

You might think all of this would be outside the normal, except that it has become normal—as normal as a dog biting a man.

Man Bites Dog

The President’s claim, with no stated evidentiary basis, that his predecessor wiretapped him, in a scandal that is worse that Watergate.

Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska—a person who apparently minces no words

called the current political atmosphere a “civilization-warping crisis of public trust” after Trump said Obama ordered Trump’s phone lines tapped before the election and Obama’s spokesman denied it on Saturday. Sasse said if there were taps, it would have been either with a FISA court authorization or without — but either way Trump needed to publicly explain his tweeted allegations.

“The president today made some very serious allegations, and the informed citizens that a republic requires deserve more information,” Sasse said. “If without [an authorization], the President should explain what sort of wiretap it was and how he knows this. It is possible that he was illegally tapped.”

But Sasse said if there was a legal authorization for a phone tap, then Trump should disclose that application.

“If it was with a legal FISA court order, then an application for surveillance exists that the court found credible. The president should ask that this full application regarding surveillance of foreign operatives or operations be made available, ideally to the full public, and at a bare minimum to the U.S. Senate,” Sasse said.

Meanwhile, Trump’s immediate entourage is leaking like a sieve.

Prior to departing for Florida, where he is spending the weekend, Trump convened on Friday a group of senior aides in the Oval Office, including chief of staff Reince Priebus, senior adviser Jared Kushner, daughter Ivanka Trump, chief strategist Steve Bannon, communications director Mike Dubke, and press secretary Sean Spicer. …

The meeting on Friday got heated once it turned to the topic of Sessions. What, Trump wanted to know, was the logic of [Sessions’ decision to recuse himself]? The president made it clear he thought the whole thing had been handled poorly, and that Sessions shouldn’t have recused himself, according to sources familiar with the meeting. His exasperation was apparent. …

“There were fireworks,” said one person briefed on the events.

Priebus, Kushner, and Bannon all weighed in with their thoughts. “There was a robust discussion,” said a second person familiar what occurred.

Priebus, who was expected by some aides to go on this weekend’s trip to Florida, stayed behind in Washington after the president’s flare-up, according to two people familiar with the matter. …

After the meeting, Trump left for Florida, where he spoke at a Republican National Committee meeting on Friday evening. On Saturday morning, he sent out a number of tweets, some of which accused former President Barack Obama of tapping Trump Tower phone lines during the final days of the 2016 election, without citing evidence.

One White House official said he woke up Saturday morning to Trump’s tweets and grimaced. It was unclear, this person said, where the president had gotten the idea, but that it likely wasn’t from an official source. “It could have come from anywhere,” this person said.

Several other people close to Trump said they weren’t sure where he got his information for the posts. One of these people said most of Trump’s aides were back in Washington and woke up exasperated at the posts.

After making the explosive claims – and trashing Arnold Schwarzenegger’s TV ratings – in the Twitter rant, the president headed to the golf course near his Mar-a-Lago resort.

When the going gets tough, the tough go golfing.