Last night, in his interview with Tucker Carlson, one of the few people supportive of his baseless accusation that then-President Barack Obama wiretapped him, Donald Trump named Fox anchor Bret Baier as one source for the claim. The only problem is that Baier reported no such thing.
Last night’s interview came as the walls are closing in on Trump’s wiretap lie. Two key House members, Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and a member of Trump’s transition team, and ranking member Adam Schiff, announced at a press conference they had found no evidence to support Trump’s claim. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has threatened to subpoena the FBI to find out if there was any such wiretap.
TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): On March 4th, 6:45 in the morning, you are down in Florida, and you tweet “The former administration wiretapped me, surveilled me at Trump Tower during the last election.” How did you find out? You said “I just found out,” how did you learn that?
DONALD TRUMP: I had been reading about things. I read in—I think it was January 20th, a New York Times article where they were talking about wiretapping. There was an article, I think they used that exact term. I read other things. I watched your friend Bret Baier the day previous, where he was talking about certain, very complex sets of things happening, and wiretapping. I said “Wait a minute, there’s a lot of wiretapping being talked about.” I have been seeing a lot of things—now, for the most part, for the most part I’m not going to discuss it because we have it before the committee, and we will be submitting things before the committee very soon that have not been submitted as of yet. But, it’s potentially a very serious situation.
Carlson pressed Trump to explain why he accused Obama before having proof. Trump seemed a bit flummoxed:
CARLSON: Why not wait to tweet about it until you can prove it? Don’t you devalue your words when you can’t provide evidence?
TRUMP: Because—well, because The New York Times wrote about it. You know, not that I respect the New York Times, I call it the failing New York Times, but they did write on January 20th, using the word “wiretap.” Other people have come out with—
CARLSON: Right, but you are the president. You have the ability to gather all the evidence you want.
TRUMP: I do, I do, but I think that frankly, we have a lot right now, and I think if you watch—if you watched the Bret Baier and what he was saying, and what he was talking about and how he mentioned the word wiretap, you would feel very confident that you could mention the name.
He mentioned it, and other people mentioned it, but if you take a look at some of the things written about wiretapping and eavesdropping—and don’t forget, when I say “wiretap,” those words were in quotes. That really covers—because wiretapping is pretty old-fashioned stuff, but that really covers surveillance and many other things, and nobody ever talks about the fact that it was in quotes, that’s a very important thing. But wiretap covers a lot of different things, I think you are going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.
The Baier segment Trump was probably referencing was an interview conducted with Paul Ryan on March 3. In it, Baier deliberately and repeatedly suggested that Obama had improperly surveilled the Trump campaign. But Baier did not report that Trump had been wiretapped. Baier mentioned a FISA court order for “a wiretap at Trump tower with some computer and some Russian banks” and a desire to “monitor communications involving Donald Trump” but Baier never said it was Trump or his computer that was surveilled.
Interestingly, Ryan did not want to talk about what the Obama administration did. But he also did not want to take Baier's bait.
BAIER: Are you concerned … that the Obama administration may have been surveilling members of the Trump campaign in a pretty detailed investigation during the election?
RYAN: I don’t think that’s the case. If you recall, President Obama asked the Intelligence Community after the election to canvas all the intelligence and give a report to Congress on what Russia did do and all their interactions and in that report, nobody alleged that there was a person in America, like a Trump campaign official, involved with the Russians on this. So if they would have found that, you’d think they would have put that in the report that they gave us in early January.
BAIER: Right, but there’s a report that June 2016, there’s a FISA request by the Obama administration, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court, to monitor communications involving Donald Trump and several other campaign officials. They get turned down and then in October they renew it and they do start a wiretap at Trump tower with some computer and some Russian banks and it doesn’t show up anything, by reporting. Have you heard that?
Ryan responded that he had not been presented with any evidence that anyone in the Trump campaign had been involved in Russian meddling of the election.
So Baier pressed.
BAIER: My point is that the Obama administration was pretty aggressive, a couple of FISA –
RYAN: I hear your point … But I’ve seen nothing of that. I’ve seen nothing come of that. That’s my point.
At most, Baier's comments raised a possibility that Trump had been wiretapped. Instead of getting the facts, which even Carlson noted Trump had easy access to, Trump’s tiny Twitter fingers shot off an irresponsible, explosive accusation without regard to the truth.
And now it’s coming back to bite him, no matter how much Trump tries to slither away.
Watch the Trump interview on the March 15, 2017 Tucker Carlson Tonight below, via Media Matters. Underneath that is Baier’s March 3, 2017 interview with Paul Ryan.