“I’d be careful about reporting that Obama said there was no wiretapping,” Jon Favreau, one of Obama’s speechwriters, tweeted out in 2017. Members of the media, loath to let anything complicate their anti-Trump propaganda, chided him for this unhelpful slip and he quickly withdrew it, saying that he deferred to James Clapper’s denial of any wiretaps. But Favreau had already given himself away. In retrospect, the tweet is even more telling and confirms that knowledge of the spying was widespread at Obama’s White House. If a White House speechwriter far from the action knew about warrants on Carter Page, Paul Manafort, and Michael Flynn, who didn’t?
From the beginning of this farce, the Obama administration has shifted back and forth between taking pride in the spying and denying its existence. We are back in the denial phase. But at the height of the hysteria after Trump’s election and inauguration, members of the Obama administration wanted everyone to know they had been spying on Trump and feared that he would destroy their “intelligence.” They leaked to the New York Times in March 2017 that they had “scrambled” to preserve the supposed damning results of their spying, in order to leave a “clear trail of intelligence for government investigators.”
By “intelligence,” they meant their own feverishly partisan sifting through negligible, half-cocked leads. Had there been any substance to their “intelligence,” they would have leaked it out. Having failed, they still thought they deserved an A for effort. They also saw the future political benefits of sliming Trump with innuendo, striking a posture that can be summed up as: Trust us, you guys, what we have found is really bad, but we can’t tell you yet. They couldn’t tell us because they had nothing to tell, but they needed to leave the impression of yet-to-be-disclosed dirt in order to trigger the Mueller investigation, and thanks to the recusal of Jeff Sessions they pulled it off.