Much is being said and reported about the recent allegations made by President Donald Trump that Trump Tower — both his campaign headquarters and home — was wiretapped by the Obama administration during the 2016 election. The basic question must be answered: Is there evidence that supports the use of U.S. government resources in a political fashion or to control individuals? What wrongdoing by all parties was involved?
The argument can be misdirected by the demonstrated reporting difference by the media in the approach of covering one president versus another. One need look no further to verify a bias than the recent executive order issued by President Trump addressing travel from countries associated with terrorism.
When President Barack Obama, aided by votes of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate, signed into law in December 2015 a measure that limited travel to those who had visited or were from Syria, Sudan, Iraq or Iran, and two months later added Yemen, Libya, and Somalia to the list in efforts to protect Americans from "the growing threat from foreign terrorist fighters," was this deemed "anti-Muslim?" Were President Obama and the U.S. Congress condemned in the global media?
The original and revised temporary travel moratoriums are reported to have applied to the exact same nations for the exact same purpose.
In a USA Today article last week, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said "a watered-down ban is still a ban it is mean-spirited and un-American." The piece, analyzing the updated travel moratorium citing only six of the seven nations, removing Iraq as a country of concern, designates the executive order as "still a Muslim ban."
But back to government wiretapping and surveillance of Trump and his colleagues: Understand, if there is wrongdoing by a Republican, a Democrat, an independent, or whomever, especially as an elected official, equal standards and punishments are in order.
President Trump's allegations have been met with an absolute torrent of news coverage and scrutiny framed in a narrative that there was collusion and collaboration with Russia in the election and now in governing. There is no evidence of such, according to our intelligence community, congressional oversight members and investigative reporting.
Yet, contrast the response to Trump's surveillance allegations to the actual actions of the Obama administration.
Proof the IRS was permitted and directed to audit, delay and deny the applications and operations of conservative, Christian, pro-traditional marriage and pro-Israel groups by the IRS has resulted in no firings or resignations. Just last week, the agency acknowledged to a federal court the possession of more than 7,000 unpublished documents relevant to its targeting of these anti-Obama groups during the 2012 election cycle.
Of the 12 prosecutions under the Espionage Act since 1945 for whistle-blowing and leaking information from within the government, nine occurred in the Obama administration. What was said about former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson's formally filed charge that her computer was remotely controlled and hacked with video proof? What was done when Obama's Department of Justice "seized more than 20 phone lines" used by Associated Press reporters, both personal and work related? What accountability was demanded when Fox News reporter James Rosen and his family had their emails and phone records monitored when he was designated a "criminal co-conspirator and a flight risk" based on his work?
There are many more actual instances, but, the Barack Obama administration did, in fact, use agencies and tools of the U.S. government in a political manner and for power. What was said? What was done?
Regardless, neither one's politics nor political party permit illegal behavior.
Robin Smith, a former Tennessee Republican Party chairwoman, owns River's Edge Alliance.