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

Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Rob Horowitz, GoLocalProv MINDSETTER™

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

  • Jennifer Duffy

    Cook Report

    "We don't really know what a Trump presidency means for the nation, never mind the smallest state.  One of the unintended consequences of last night's results is that Sen. Jack Reed won't be chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.  Chalk that up as a loss for RI."

     
  • Pam Gencarella

    Head of Ocean State Taxpayers' Association

    "Trump’s win means that his signature issue, illegal immigration, could have a big impact on RI, hopefully reversing our course as a sanctuary state and saving the state taxpayer millions of dollars.  While we agree with his 'repeal and replace' Obamacare stance, we have no idea what that means to the RI debacle known as UHIP.  It is not a stretch to believe that federal funding for this kind of system will be off the table so, will RI be stuck with this massively expensive system that still doesn’t work and that is expected to cost another $124 million to fix?  

    Trump's belief that there is significant fraud in the Food Stamp program and the policies that may come from that belief could have a negative impact on RI's local economy since there are businesses in certain cities that rely heavily on this program, fraud and all. On the upside, we may be able to ditch the UHIP program if there is significantly less need for processing welfare program requests (ie. Medicaid and food stamps) resulting from fewer illegal immigrants and less fraud.  While we are ambivalent about his touted child care policies, if enacted, it may force our legislators to revisit the ever growing state cost of subsidies in this area and possibly reduce the fraud and abuse in this system." 

     
  • Kay Israel

    Professor at Rhode Island College

    "With a Republican President and Congress, Rhode Island will probably be excluded from the 'fruits of victory."  

    The congressional delegation will be able to vocally make their presence felt, but in the long term it's more symbolic than substantive.  

    For Rhode Island it's a matter of holding on and waiting until '18 or '20 and a surge in Democratic influence."

     
  • Jennifer Lawless

    Professor at American University

    "The RI congressional delegation just became even less powerful than it was. With unified government, Trump doesn’t need to quell Democrats’ concerns or acquiesce because he’s worried about a Democratically-controlled Senate.

    His appointments will reflect that. His executive orders will affect that. And the conservative policy agenda he puts forward will affect that."

     
  • Len Lardaro

    Professor at University of Rhode Island

    "Well there's a few things -- because there's not going to be gridlock, that's a big difference if it had been Hillary and a GOP Congress, in which nothing would got done. We'll at least get a half a billion in infrastructure that's going to pass which will have an impact.

    I think you'll see there will be reduced reliance on government nationally -- and that's where we'll stick out like sore thumb. We've relied way too much on government -- and our government is highly inefficient and ineffective.  Maybe, just maybe, in this who cycle of things we might be forced to be small and more efficient for once.

    A couple of other things -- interest rates jumped. The one to follow is the ten year government bond rate -- which is tied to mortgages. It went from 1.7% to 2.05% in one day. The point is -- if the ten year stays high, mortgage rates will start going higher -- and in the short time people will run to re-finance. 

    That's the short term impact -- but then if rates stay hight, that will make mortgages more out of reach. And we just passed a bond issue to limit open space -- housing has limited upside here.
    The next thing -- the Fed Reserve will go ahead with tightening next month. A strong dollar will hurt manufacturing. When the dollar is strong our exports become more expensive overseas. 

    Our goods production sector -- manufacturing and construction -- in the near term will do a little better, but as time goes on will be more limited. But something you won't hear, is there are lags in fiscal policy, of six months to year. So we won't really see the effects until the third our fourth quarter of 2017, going into 2018."
     

     
  • Mike Stenhouse

    RI Center for Freedon and Prosperity

    "As the unbelievable turned into reality this morning, it struck me that the presidential election was not really all about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. It was about a fed-up people, revolting against a corrupt system - the "beast" - that relentlessly favors insiders. Hillary personified the beast, while Donald personified the slayer.

    Sadly, based on election results in our state, Rhode Island's version of the beast lives on. I fear our political class has not learned the lessons from the Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump movements - and will continue with their government-centric, anti-family, anti-business status quo."

     
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