Trump Praises “Amazing” Fox News Report to Back Unproven Surveillance Claims

The president continues to rely on television over his own intelligence officials.

Olivier Douliery/ZUMA

In a series of early morning tweets Monday, President Donald Trump lavished praise on a recent Fox News report that cited an unknown source to allege Trump associates were secretly monitored before he became the Republican nominee for president. The messages were just the latest attempt by Trump to support his ongoing conspiracy theory about being surveilled by the Obama administration—a strategy some say he has used to divert attention from multiple investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election and Russian ties to his campaign.

Last month, the president set off a spectacle by accusing former President Barack Obama of “wiretapping” him. The unsubstantiated claim took another dramatic turn when the chair of the House Committee intelligence committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Cali.), gave a bizarre press conference to announce he had seen evidence Trump’s team had been “incidentally swept up” in surveillance efforts.

After FBI Director James Comey and other top-level intelligence officials publicly refuted the wiretapping allegation, Trump retreated by also citing Fox News. Conservative outlets have since largely shifted coverage away from the Russia investigations to push the claim that a top intelligence official ordered the “unmasking” of Trump associates.

Trump also muddied the waters on Monday by dragging the five-month-old presidential election back into the picture, with a pair of tweets attacking Hillary Clinton and John Podesta.