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What does the Trump campaign have to hide, after all?

The office of the US President is a source we should never have to doubt – but in voicing his opinions so impulsively, Trump has thrown away much of his credibility with both hands

analysis Updated: Jul 24, 2018 12:55 IST
United States President Donald Trump during an event in the White House, July 23, 2018. After two years with President Trump in the spotlight, we have learned to take some of his more far-fetched claims with a grain of salt(Bloomberg)

Earlier this year, United States President Donald Trump’s Twitter page featured claims that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had been illegally spying on his election campaign. The major flaw in these allegations was that the incident to which he was referring, which he dubbed “Spygate”, was perfectly legal. The informant, a 73-year-old Cambridge professor named Stefan Halper, had allegedly supplied information on the Trump campaign’s connections with Russia to the FBI.

This issue was once again brought to light this Sunday, following the revelation of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) documents indicating an FBI investigation into informal foreign-policy adviser Carter Page’s ties with Russia in 2016. Trump was quick to seize on this as an indicator of espionage, even accusing Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Convention of involvement in the “illegal scam”. However, Trump’s allegations lack one crucial element: evidence. This alone is enough for one to take little importance in his latest Twitter rants.

Many have pointed out that even without his links to Trump, Page’s connections to Russia warranted investigation. Additionally, as Pagehad little or no official relationship with the Trump campaign, an inquiry into his individual ties with a foreign power should not be construed as spying on the campaign itself, and certainly not for the political gain of another party.

The purpose of an election campaign is to promote a candidate by making his or her agenda clear to the public – a campaign, by nature, is meant to be transparent. There is nothing wrong in passing information on a campaign to federal intelligence, especially if those details are a matter of national security, and there is certainly nothing illegal in it. After all, in a democracy, it is the right of the people to release information on anything unclassified – and an election campaign is by no stretch of the imagination a classified affair. Which begs the question: what does the Trump campaign have to hide? What is so secret that even the slightest probing causes Trump’s Twitter feed to explode?

Of course, after two years with Trump in the spotlight, we have learned to take some of his more farfetched claims with a grain of salt – after all, his infamous “wall” plan shows no signs of development, let alone execution. On the other hand, though, the office of the POTUS is a source we should never have to doubt. In voicing his opinions so impulsively, Trump has thrown away much of his credibility with both hands, abandoning any semblance of professionalism.

Tejas K Narayan is a student based in New York

The views expressed are personal

First Published: Jul 24, 2018 12:55 IST