Trump's spokeswoman focuses on 'wrongdoing' rather than crimes when pressed on 'Obamagate' charges

When asked to spell out those alleged crimes during a Monday press conference, the president could not – or would not

John T. Bennett
Washington DC
@BennettJohnT
Friday 15 May 2020 20:24
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Trump says he would be open to bringing Michael Flynn back to his administration

Asked to define what crimes Donald Trump is alleging Barack Obama and other former members of his administration committed under his "Obamagate" conspiracy theory, the president's top spokeswoman instead focused on alleged "wrongdoing."

When pressed, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany only mentioned one potential crime: The leaking of the identity of Michael Flynn, Mr Trump's first national security adviser to reporters that showed up in articles indicating the retired Army three-star general was the subject of a federal probe.

Instead, Ms McEnany pointed to the highly disputed "dossier" of negative information compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, which has been disputed by Mr Trump and his team.

Ms McEnany, who is an attorney, complained about "wrongdoing" by the FBI.

She complained that Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act court warrants were improperly issued so federal investigators could monitor communications involving members the 2016 Trump campaign.

Additionally, she contended that Sally Yates, a former senior Justice Department official, was "stunned" when then-President Barack Obama informed her of a federal probe of Mr Flynn.

But only once, contending that a leak of Mr Flynn's name to reporters, did she mention a possible criminal act – because, she said, such a leak might have been "a violation of his (Flynn's) Fourth Amendment rights."

Cornell Law School defines that amendment to the US Constitution this way: "The Fourth Amendment originally enforced the notion that "each man's home is his castle", secure from unreasonable searches and seizures of property by the government. It protects against arbitrary arrests, and is the basis of the law regarding search warrants, stop-and-frisk, safety inspections, wiretaps, and other forms of surveillance, as well as being central to many other criminal law topics and to privacy law."

Mr Trump alleged unspecified criminal actions by former Obama administration officials in a tweet last weekend, writing: "The biggest political crime in American history, by far!"

But on Monday, when asked to spell out those alleged crimes during a press conference, Mr Trump could not – or would not.

"You know what the crime is. The crime is very obvious to everybody. All you have to do is read the newspapers, except yours," he told a Washington Post reporter.

"Obamagate" is a web of complicated and semi-related actions and investigations by and ordered by then-Obama administration officials. Mr Trump, cobbling them together, alleges they prove a push inside the Obama administration to take down his 2016 presidential bid and then hobble his presidency. Mr Obama has responded with a one-word tweet: "Vote."

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