Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain has a few words for Donald Trump, and they are worth listening to. On Sunday, McCain called for Trump to either prove his claim that President Barack Obama illegally tapped communications in the Trump Tower during last year's election campaign or take it back.
In an interview on CNN's State of the Union, McCain said, "The president has one of two choices, either retract or provide the information that the American people deserve." McCain said he had no reason to believe Trump but that he believes that "the president of the United States could clear this up in a minute."
The lack of backing-up from Trump's administration is particularly notable given the fact that Trump has constantly railed against unreliable news otherwise lambasted as "fake news" by him and his supporters. A report from The Washington Post states that Trump's wiretapping claim against Obama appears to have its origins in a Breitbart news recap by the conservative radio host Mark Levin.
Although McCain made no direct comments on Trump using Twitter to carry out unverified information, the senator said that coming from Trump, a charge of such magnitude — like alleging illegal wiretapping against a former president — is not a trivial matter and should be handled with appropriate attention. He went on to say, "President Trump has to provide the American people, not just the intelligence committee, with evidence that his predecessor was guilty of breaking the law."
Mark Levin has warned before of Obama’s "silent coup". Now he has a follower in the Oval Office. https://t.co/BJUeWCU7EE— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) March 6, 2017
An Obama spokesman said, "Neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any US citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false."
McCain isn't alone in highlighting the lack of evidence behind Trump's claim. Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, told CBS This Morning that he has not seen "anything directly that would support what the president has said." However, he added that he will keep his eyes "wide open."
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
Additionally, top lawmakers have requested the Justice Department and FBI provide more information behind Trump's unsubstantiated claim, which include copies of wiretapping warrant applications and court orders. So far, Trump administration officials have not provided any evidence to substantiate the president's claim that came earlier this month.
Whether one likes or dislikes McCain, it is undeniable that his comments on the controversial subject come at an apt time when the president himself remains critical of, if not aggressively focused on, various media outlets for allegedly propagating "fake news" and other misinformation. Trump's is a presidency that has consistently pointed fingers at a list of channels, newspapers, and digital media websites for claiming they publish fake or misleading information.
The irony of Trump issuing a statement that continues to lack evidence but has spread panic, confusion, and concern among the public, is lost on no one.