The current scandal surrounding President Donald Trump’s tweeted accusations that his predecessor wiretapped Trump Tower is proof of what might be called the Salena Zito rule. Zito, of course, wrote the essay in the Atlantic how Trump’s supporters took him “seriously, but not literally,” whereas the press took him “literally, but not seriously.”
This is a good way to understand the current state of the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and Trump’s wild accusations against Barack Obama. Barring an unexpected turn of events, FBI director James Comey will confirm on Monday before the House Intelligence Committee that what Trump tweeted on March 4 was literally false. There was no authorized surveillance of Trump Tower.
Nonetheless, there may be reason to take the gist of Trump’s tweet seriously. At least this is the upshot of the latest turn in the story. On Wednesday Representative Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House intelligence panel, and that body’s ranking Democrat, Adam Schiff announced they were seeking information on how the identities of American citizens picked up in eavesdropping on foreign targets were unmasked in more widely disseminated intelligence reports.