Obama Slams “False” Trump Accusation, Says “Never Ordered” Wiretapping
Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, Mar 4 2017
Moments ago, Barack Obama through his spokesman Kevin Lewis said in a statement:
A cardinal rule of the Obama Administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the DoJ. As part of that practice, neither Pres Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any Pindo citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.
Yet while the carefully-worded statement, an exercise in semantics, claims Obama did not order a potential wiretapping, either in person or through members of his White House team, it does not deny an actual wiretapping of Trump (or Trump Tower), which as some have speculated in the past, did in fact take place after a FISA Court granted surveillance of Trump over accusations of Russian interference. It also does not preclude the FBI, which is the entity that would most likely have implemented such a wiretap, from having given the order. As a reminder, here is what the Guardian reported in early January:
The Guardian has learned that the FBI applied for a warrant from the FISA court over the summer in order to monitor four members of the Trump team suspected of irregular contacts with Russian officials. The FISA court turned down the application, asking FBI counter-intelligence investigators to narrow its focus. According to one report, the FBI was finally granted a warrant in October, but that has not been confirmed, and it is not clear whether any warrant led to a full investigation.
For the definitive answer, we suggest Trump ask Comey whether or not his building was being tapped in the days prior to the election.
Rhodes Is Wrong, The President Can Order A Wiretap, And Why Trump May Have The Last Laugh
Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, Mar 4 2017
Following Trump’s stunning allegation that Obama wiretapped the Trump Tower in Oct 2016, prior to the presidential election, which may or may not have been sourced from a Breitbart story, numerous Demagogs and media pundits have come out with scathing accusations that Trump is either mentally disturbed, or simply has no idea what he is talking about. The best example of this came from Ben Rhodes, a former National Security Advisor to President Obama, who slammed Trump’s accusation, insisting:
It would appear, however, that Rhodes is wrong, especially as pertains to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and its associated FISA court, under which the alleged wiretap of Donald Trump would have been granted, as it pertained specifically to Trump’s alleged illicit interactions with Russian entities. What the Snowden affair has demonstrated all too clearly, is how frequently the NSA and FISA court would make Pindosi citizens into collateral damage. Fox News correspondent James Rosen was notoriously wiretapped in 2013, when the DOJ was investigating government leaks. AP was also infamously wiretapped in relation to the same investigation. As for Trump, the Guardian reported as much when news of the ‘dirty dossier’ by former British MI6 officer Steele broke in early January:
The Guardian has learned that the FBI applied for a warrant from the FISA court over the summer in order to monitor four members of the Trump team suspected of irregular contacts with Russian officials. The FISA court turned down the application asking FBI counter-intelligence investigators to narrow its focus. According to one report, the FBI was finally granted a warrant in October, but that has not been confirmed, and it is not clear whether any warrant led to a full investigation.
Furthermore, while most Demagogs, not to mention Obama himself, have been harshly critical of Trump’s comments, former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau was quite clear in his warning to reporters that Obama did not say there was no wiretapping, effectively confirming it:
Favreau also urged his twitter followers to read a thread that explicitly suggested the prior existence of FISA-endorsed wiretaps:
WaPo White House bureau chief Philip Rucker echoed Favreau’s caveat, namely that the Obama statement does not deny the existence of wiretaps on Trump Tower; it merely denies that Obama himself or the Obama White House approved them.
Further implying the existence of such a wiretap was David Axelrod, who tweeted laconically today:
Yet ironically, it was none other than the Trump administration which this week announced it supports the renewal of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which incorporates the FISA court, without reforms:
The Trump administration does not want to reform an internet surveillance law to address privacy concerns, a White House official told Reuters on Wednesday, saying it is needed to protect national security. “We support the clean reauthorization and the administration believes it’s necessary to protect the security of the nation,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
In any event, the bottom line here appears to be that with his tweet, Trump has opened a can of worms with two possible outcomes: either the wiretaps exist as Trump has suggested, and the president will use them to attack both the Obama administration and the media for political overreach; or, there were no wiretaps, which as Matthew Boyle writes, would suggest the previous administration had no reason to suspect Trump colluded with a foreign government. Senator Ben Sasse said as much in his statement issued earlier today:
The President today made some very serious allegations, and the informed citizens that a republic requires deserve more information. If there were wiretaps of then-candidate Trump’s organization or campaign, then it was either with FISA Court authorization or without such authorization. If without, the President should explain what sort of wiretap it was and how he knows this. It is possible that he was illegally tapped. On the other hand, if it was with a legal FISA Court order, then an application for surveillance exists that the Court found credible.
But what is perhaps most important is that we may know soon enough. As the NYT reported on Saturday afternoon, a senior White House official said that the president’s chief legal counsel Donald McGahn was working on Saturday to secure access to a FISA warrant authorizing telephonic surveillance of Trump Tower. If and when such a document is made public, assuming it exists of course, it would be Trump that gets the last laugh, once again.