Fact Check

FBI Issues Warrant for Obama’s Arrest After Confirming Illegal Trump Tower Wiretap?

Reports that former president Barack Obama was about to be arrested over charges of illegal wiretapping were fake news.

Published Mar 6, 2017

The FBI has issued an arrest warrant for Barack Obama over charges of illegal wiretapping.

On 4 March 2017, the web site The Last Line of Defense published an article positing that a warrant had been issued for the arrest of former president Barack Obama over the (unsubstantiated) claim that he had illegally ordered wiretapping of telephones at Trump Tower prior to the 2016 U.S. presidential election:

Former president and breaker of laws, Barack Obama, will either surrender himself or be picked up by the FBI sometime today to be booked and charged with unlawful use of authority, wire fraud and conspiracy to interfere with free elections after it was confirmed that he ordered the tapping of the phones at Trump Tower during the presidential election.

Todd McMartin, a spokesman for the FBI, told Fox News: “The proof is undeniable. Obama basically confessed in a private call to one of Hillary Clinton’s aides that he had the Trump Tower tapped and we can’t find any federal order legally authorized by a judge to do so.”

The call, between Obama and Huma Abedin, was intercepted by the FBI after President Trump ordered Obama’s phones tapped to catch him in a lie over the Russia scandal. That tap was authorized by executive order for national security reasons. If convicted, Obama could face up to 40 years in prison, and no President will be pardoning him anytime soon.

None of this was true. Barack Obama was not arrested, nor was a warrant issued for his arrest. No FBI spokesman named "Todd McMartin" made a statement about Obama's supposed imminent arrest to Fox News, nor to any other news organization (and an FBI spokesman would not be able to publicly comment on an investigation in progress in any case). And, of course, the notion that President Trump could order a wiretap solely via executive order to incriminate another president who ordered a wiretap without a federal order "legally authorized by a judge" is an amusing irony.

This "news" about Barack Obama's imminent arrest originated with The Last Line of Defense, a well known "satirical" (i.e., fake news) web site whose disclaimer notes that:

DISCLAIMER: The Resistance may include information from sources that may or may not be reliable and facts that don’t necessarily exist. All articles should be considered satirical and any and all quotes attributed to actual people complete and total baloney. Pictures that represent actual people should be considered altered and not in any way real.

The Last Line of Defense followed up this spoof article the following day with another fabricated piece detailing Obama's supposed arrest in Canada:

This morning, Obama was stopped at a checkpoint at Toronto International Airport, where he was trying to fly to an unknown destination under the alias “Bruce Wilekenmeyer.” The CRMP officer who stopped him recognized him beneath a fake mustache, took him into custody and turned him over to the US Embassy.

After a short transport back to Washington, Obama was brought before a special session of US District Court where he could be formally charged and ordered not to leave the country before being released into his attorney’s custody.

The story re-emerged in late March 2017when it was picked up by dubious aggregator sites, but remains false.


Stryker.   "BREAKING: FBI Issues Warrant For Obama’s Arrest After Confirming Illegal Trump Tower Wiretap."     The Last Line of Defense.   4 March 2017.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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