Intel Officer: Obama Could Be First President With Felony Indictment-Outdated!
Intel Officer: Obama Could Be First President With Felony Indictment-Reported as Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
An intel officer said President Obama could be the first president in history with a felony indictment.
Retired Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer said accusations that President Obama authorized wiretapping Trump Tower could be"Soviet-level wrongdoing" in March 2017. But Shaffer's comments have since been twisted to form the false narrative that President Obama is being indicted on felony charges.
Shaffer made the comments in an interview on Fox News on March 4, the same day President Trump accused President Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign:
[caption id="attachment_106363" align="aligncenter" width="636"] President Trump's accusation that President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower sparked rumors that Obama would be indicted.[/caption]
During the interview, Shaffer said the accusations would be "Soviet-level wrongdoing" and "worse than Watergate" if proven true. He also speculated that Trump learned about the wiretapping through intelligence briefings, and that a paper trail would generate lots of evidence:
I don’t doubt for a minute that Mr. Trump has a critical mass of evidence that says something is wrong here. And as a president you start learning little by little about collection capabilities, so naturally as you start learning about stuff, you question if this could be used against me in some form.
It should be noted, however, that the interview didn't make any reference to felony indictments for Obama. But false rumors that Obama would be indicted surfaced immediately.
Source of Rumors that Obama Would Be First President With Felony Indictment
The website Freedom Daily started rumors about Obama's felony indictment in March 2017. A report appearing under the headline,"Intel Officer Reveals How Obama Will Be 'First President in History' to be Hit With a Felony Indictment," was shared nearly 70,000 times on social media.
Months later, a follow-up story appeared at Freedom Daily on November 24th under the same headline, "Intel Officer Reveals How Obama Will Be 'First President in History' to be Hit With a Felony Indictment." Shaffer's quotes from the March interview were repackaged and presented as "breaking" news. Within days, the story was shared nearly 120,000 times on social media, leading many to believe that it was a developing story.
Freedom Daily doesn't identify it's content as satire or fake news. But we've found that the site frequently melds actual developments into false narratives like this one. It's About page doesn't offer much clarity with the disclaimer, "We post and decipher content to a level that is consistent with a common sense approach and falls in line with the ideals of American liberty and freedom."
And it should be noted that Anthony Shaffer might not be an unbiased source on the matter. In December 2016, it was reported that Shaffer was being considered for a top-level intelligence position within the Trump administration. It doesn't appear that Shaffer's appointment came to pass, however.
Recent Developments Bring Obama Indictment Accusations Back to Light
In the months that followed Trump's initial accusation, his administration didn't provide the "critical mass of evidence" that Shaffer predicted. However, it was revealed in September 2017that Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, was under surveillance as far back as 2014, CNN reported:
A secret order authorized by the court that handles the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) began after Manafort became the subject of an FBI investigation that began in 2014. It centered on work done by a group of Washington consulting firms for Ukraine's former ruling party, the sources told CNN.
That doesn't prove that Trump Tower was wiretapped. But the report indicates that some conversations Manafort had with Trump's campaign team, and even Trump himself, could have been surveilled as part of the investigation. Still, rumors about Obama being the first president in history to be indicted on felony charges don't check out.