http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-ho...e-claim-n729196 During the Vietnam War there was a popular slogan: "Suppose they gave a war and nobody came?"
On Saturday, President Donald Trump posed a new question: Suppose the commander-in-chief declared a massive political scandal — and nobody cared?
It was an explosive allegation that raised immediate questions about both the Obama administration's behavior and the status of investigations into Trump associates' relationship to Russia, which the intelligence community has accused of a hacking campaign to aid Trump politically.
And then ... not much happened.
The White House didn't outwardly treat the president's public accusations against a former president as particularly urgent business either. As of Saturday evening, his staff had not put out any follow-up statements.
Obama spokesman Kevin Lewis said neither Obama nor any White House official ever ordered any surveillance of Trump or any U.S. citizen, but did not address whether such surveillance had occurred.
In ordinary times, such an accusation would send both parties and the White House scrambling into action with demands and counter-demands for an immediate investigation. But Trump is not an ordinary president and the initial response from his own side was so muted as to barely be audible.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan did not respond to requests for comment Saturday, although Ryan told Fox News on Friday that he did not think the Obama administration surveilled Trump's campaign aides.
The other side didn't seem too compelled to respond either. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, the ranking Democrat of the House Intelligence Committee, called Trump's claim "outlandish and destructive" in a statement.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, issued a single tweet calling Trump "Deflector-in-Chief" and reiterating her call for an independent commission. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, gave no public comment at all as of Saturday evening.
What happened? They had seen this movie before. First, the president issues an incendiary claim. Then, a firestorm erupts. When the smoke settles, it becomes clear the president was making a charge without evidence to back it up, often by parroting a sympathetic commentator or a fringe supporter.
The president's past eruptions often followed a difficult news cycle. The current questions swirling around Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had recused himself from any investigation involving the Trump campaign after failing to mention conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, clearly fit the bill.In short, it was business as usual. But the fact that this pattern had become so established, so normal, was on its own a shocking moment in American politics.