This is the most explosive political allegation in many years, far more explosive than Watergate. Is it true? I assume it has some basis in fact, e.g., Trump’s security people may have told him that they detected a tap on one or more of his phone lines. I have no idea how that works, or why it would only be detected now, or how the presence of a wire tap could be connected to the Obama administration. But it seems unlikely that Trump would make such a dynamite allegation without some kind of support.
I also wonder what Trump means by “turned down by court earlier.” It sounds like the Obama administration applied for a tap on Trump’s phones at some point, and was denied. Is it possible that Obama later succeeded in getting a wire tap order from a partisan judge, and that is what has now come to light? That is hard to imagine, but there are some very bad federal judges. The comment “nothing found” may support this interpretation.
At this point, it is all quite mysterious. But the claim is nuclear, and I can’t believe it is wholly without basis. Stay tuned!
UPDATE: Scott emails:
Someone in the intelligence/law enforcement bureaucracy had a applied for a FISA warrant to tap the Trump people in June, It was turned down. Renewed and granted in October, I think. The details are out there. That’s what he’s talking about.
This is astonishing to me, as I have never heard a word about this story. If the Obama administration abused the FISA process to wiretap a political opponent, it is a scandal of the first order–the worst political scandal of my lifetime, easily. And the press has known about it and covered it up? Unbelievable.
But if this is a story that has been out there for a while, why does Trump say he “just found out”? Sounds like at a minimum there are new developments. We will see.
LBJ used government resources to spy on opponents. Why should we think Obama wouldn’t? *** The FISA court found the application so weak that it said no — which it never does — and the Obama Administration came back with a narrower one, which may or may not have mentioned Trump specifically, which was granted, shortly before the election.
It is too late to impeach Obama, but the FISA application should be carefully reviewed, and if appropriate, the judges who issued the warrant should be investigated. If it was issued on partisan grounds, it is not too late to impeach the judges who authorized the improper wiretap.
FINAL UPDATE: Much more here and here. Notably, Obama’s spokesman doesn’t deny that the Obama administration wiretapped Trump’s campaign, but merely quibbles about the chain of command.
After President Trump accused Barack Obama of wiretapping his phones during the election campaign, the Associated Press hurried into print a defense of the former president:
President Donald Trump on Saturday accused former President Barack Obama of having Trump Tower telephones “wire tapped” during last year’s election, a claim that an Obama spokesman said was false.
Trump did not offer any evidence or details, or say what prompted him to make the allegation.
No one fits a lot of details into a tweet, but there is no doubt that Obama’s Justice Department–the most corrupt and politicized Department of Justice in modern American history–obtained a FISA warrant to conduct surveillance on Trump associates, and possibly Trump himself, in the heat of the presidential campaign. The Associated Press apparently didn’t know this.
Obama spokesman Kevin Lewis said a “cardinal rule” of the Obama administration was that no White House official ever interfered in any Justice Department investigations, which are supposed to be conducted free of political influence.
“As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen,” Lewis said, adding that “any suggestion otherwise is simply false.”
This is a non-denial denial. Lewis didn’t say that the Obama administration didn’t spy on Trump or others in his campaign. Obviously, the order to conduct surveillance came from the Department of Justice–that is to say, Democratic Party hack Loretta Lynch. But Lynch presumably wouldn’t have tried to spy on the Trump campaign without the knowledge and permission of her boss.
One wonders, too: is this perhaps what the infamous tarmac meeting between Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch was about? Maybe it had nothing to do with the FBI’s investigation of Hillary’s illegal email operation. The meeting was in June, coinciding with the Obama administration’s initial effort to spy on the Trump campaign. Maybe Lynch was filling Clinton in on her progress in trying to bug Trump’s telephones.
Much of the remainder of the AP article merely attacks Jeff Sessions and the Trump administration. But this is pretty funny:
It was unclear what prompted Trump’s new charge. The president often tweets about reports he reads on blogs and conservative-leaning websites.
The allegations may be related to anonymously sourced reports in British media and blogs, and on conservative-leaning U.S. websites, including Breitbart News. Those reports claimed that U.S. officials had obtained a warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to review contacts between computers at a Russian bank and Trump’s New York headquarters.
Those “anonymously sourced” reports also appeared in the New York Times and some or all of the 29 McClatchey newspapers. To be fair to the AP, however, the liberal press mostly just hinted at the FISA story in order to smear Trump, and didn’t really pursue it for fear, I assume, of uncovering an epic Obama scandal.
This is why I, like the Associated Press, never even saw the story. It wasn’t foolish for the AP to assume that revelations of an Obama administration scandal must have come from “British media and blogs, and…conservative-leaning U.S. websites.”
This scandal cries out for aggressive investigation. Let’s see the initial FISA application, and the court order denying it. Then let’s see the second application, and the order that approved it. Let’s put the Obama administration officials who signed the applications under oath, and find out who put them up to it. Let’s find out what judges denied the first application, and what judges granted the second one. Let’s get the details on the Obama administration’s spying. Did they tap the Trump campaign’s telephones? If so, which lines? Did they hack into the Trump campaign’s servers? If so, which ones?
Obviously, as President Trump said, the Obama administration learned nothing of significance from its spying on the Trump campaign. But it now appears that the election of 2016 may have been hacked after all, in a far more meaningful way than an intrusion into Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s email account. It may have been hacked by the Obama administration. We need to find out what happened. Congress should give top priority to this investigation.