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Horowitz: Trump’s Wiretap Claim Adds to his Growing Credibility Problem

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


Rob Horowitz

A substantial majority of Americans believed that Donald Trump was dishonest before he made the reckless and still unsubstantiated claim that former President Obama wiretapped him during the 2016 campaign.  

In preparation for a public hearing on March 20,  the House Intelligence Committee essentially called  President Trump’s bluff, giving him a deadline of yesterday to provide evidence to back up his assertion-evidence he has yet to provide as I submit this column and that, according to credible sources, will never be provided because it does not exist.  At the hearing, which will receive wall-to-wall media coverage, FBI Director James Comey and others are expected to come forward and say that Trump’s claim is false. Even with this likely scenario, Trump in typical fashion is not withdrawing his outrageous charge. This is bound to make an already well-earned credibility problem even worse.

Trump’s latest self-inflicted wound began when more than a week ago, he tweeted, “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism.”  Trump expanded on this in a later tweet: “How low has President Obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy.”

According to White House officials, President Trump made these explosive charges against the former President after reading a Breitbart article and without checking with the FBI Director and others to verify the information. Caught between the proverbial rock and the hard place, his communications staff,  knowing that they were not  going to get Trump to admit a mistake, decided that the best course of action was to call for it to be part of the House and Senate Intelligence Committee Investigations. This is now backfiring as the Committees demand evidence from the Trump Administration that will not be forthcoming. 

As Senator McCain(R-AZ)) told Jake Tapper on CNN’s  State of the Union  on Sunday, “The president has one of two choices, either retract or provide the information that the American people deserve,” McCain  added, “I have no reason to believe that the charge is true, but I also believe that the president of the United States could clear this up in a minute. "All he has to do is pick up the phone, call the director of the CIA, director of national intelligence and say, 'OK, what happened?

The power of the presidential bully pulpit is the power to persuade. But you can’t  persuade, if what you say is not perceived as credible.  On the basic question of whether or not he tells the truth, President Trump is rapidly approaching the point of no return.

 Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island


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