Let the great cover up begin.
That’s what more than a few conservative political analysts say is happening now after President Trump threw a Twitter dart that landed between the collective eyes of the Obama administration and its scheme to take down Trump.
Barack Obama did not hesitate to use the federal surveillance apparatus against his foes during his eight years in office (see list at end of story), but his defenders nonetheless cried “conspiracy theory” Monday in their attempts to deflect Trump’s Twitter accusations.
Trump tweeted that his predecessor in the White House ordered, in October of last year, a wiretap of his campaign headquarters at Trump Tower, comparing Obama to Nixon and Watergate.
While Obama and his spokespersons have denied ordering any such action, a careful reading of their denials leaves open the possibility of sensational executive overreach if not outright illegal activity.
Andrew McCarthy, in an op-ed for National Review, explained how, technically, a president doesn’t “order” such surveillance measures. And just because a “wiretap” may not have been placed directly on a Trump Tower phone line doesn’t mean other forms of surveillance weren’t taken against Trump or his campaign surrogates.
“This seems disingenuous on several levels. First, as Obama officials well know, under the FISA process, it is technically the FISA court that ‘orders’ surveillance. And by statute, it is the Justice Department, not the White House, that represents the government in proceedings before the FISA court. So, the issue is not whether Obama or some member of his White House staff ‘ordered’ surveillance of Trump and his associates. The issues are (a) whether the Obama Justice Department sought such surveillance authorization from the FISA court, and (b) whether, if the Justice Department did that, the White House was aware of or complicit in the decision to do so. Personally, given the explosive and controversial nature of the surveillance request we are talking about – an application to wiretap the presidential candidate of the opposition party, and some of his associates, during the heat of the presidential campaign, based on the allegation that the candidate and his associates were acting as Russian agents – it seems to me that there is less than zero chance that could have happened without consultation between the Justice Department and the White House.”
As former Reagan deputy Attorney General Mark Levin pointed out in a Fox News interview, the Obama DOJ under Loretta Lynch tried on two occasions to get FISA court approval to intercept communications between Trump campaign surrogates and Russian officials. The first attempt in June was rejected, then the DOJ came back in October with a more narrowly focused request that was granted. This has already been reported in January by multiple outlets including the New York Times.
The real Russian scandal needing investigation by Joseph Farah
3 things Trump should do about Obama’s deep state by Scott Lively
The Beltway conspiracy to break Trump by Pat Buchanan
McClatchy ran a story on Jan. 19, the second to last day of Obama’s term in office, titled “FBI, five other agencies probe possible covert Kremlin aid to Trump.”
Among the six agencies were the FBI, CIA, NSA, Justice Department, the Treasury Department’s financial crimes unit and representatives of the director of national intelligence, the unnamed sources told McClatchy.
The New York Times reported, also on Jan. 19, that the government “intercepted Russian communications part of inquiry into Trump associates,” two of which were campaign advisers Paul Manafort and Roger Stone.
The FBI is leading the investigations and “accelerated the investigation in recent weeks but found no exclusive evidence of wrongdoing,” the Times reported.
Then comes this bombshell from the Times article:
“One official said intelligence reports based on some of the wiretapped communications had been provided to the White House.”
“Are you telling me Barack Obama did not know what was going on in six agencies?” Levin told Fox. “I need to make the case, because the media seems to be confused about their own reporting.”
Watch Mark Levin unpack the Obama administration’s efforts to surveil the Trump campaign using the mainstream media’s own reporting:
Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent for Obama, tweet Monday:
When the media hacks wrote weeks ago about the Trump wire-taps it was breaking news, now that Trump mentions it it’s a “conspiracy theory.”
— Dan Bongino (@dbongino) March 6, 2017
‘Deep state’ now covering its tracks?
Tom Fitton, president of the government watchdog agency Judicial Watch, said the “deep state” is in full rebellion against Trump and it will go to any lengths to cover its tracks.
“I’ve been saying for some time that the scandal involves surveillance and illegal leaks of information concerning the Trump team,” Fitton said.
“The left had been trying to distract the public with the unicorn theory of election and the Russians ‘stealing’ the election when in fact you had the president’s people in the Obama administration surveilling and trying to influence the election prior to it and then afterward leaking information in a way to destroy the Trump administration.
“Trump is more right than he knows,” Fitton continued. “Whether he was specifically, by name, the target of a wiretap as opposed to his campaign or something like that, we don’t know. That’s why we sued today, to get more information through FOIA requests, and we’ve been investigating this for months.
“It goes back to General [Mike] Flynn and what came out about him as well.”
Now another leak has Washington in a tizzy about the same issue successfully used against Flynn – contacts with Russians – only this time it is being used against Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Could this be the tip of the iceberg, with more leaks being dribbled out over time, perhaps even at the command of Obama, who still has hundreds of loyalists in the federal government?
“Yes, and in a matter contrary to law,” Fitton said. “It is illegal. You can’t leak what they leaked.
“I think the Obama team has said they are doing what Trump is concerned about, surveilling him or his people so that information is going to come out, and the irony is Trump can make it come out.”
Concerned about ethics accusations
Fitton said Trump may not have ordered copies of all the intel reports on communications that were scooped up during FISA-approved intercepts.
“My guess is he’s not being direct in getting access to this information in order to satisfy ethics concerns, no matter how misplaced those concerns may be, by people in the agencies,” Fitton said.
What most Americans don’t realize, Fitton said, is that the federal bureaucracy that controls the intelligence agencies is the same bureaucracy that worked under Obama. Only a few Trump loyalists have been appointed to these agencies since the transfer of power with thousands of job openings still to be filled by the Trump administration.
“We don’t know the source of the leaker,” Fitton added. “It could be current and former officials.
“The president ought to endeavor to remove them, but in the meantime he can’t get his people appointed because of all the obstruction in Congress.
“People call it the deep state,” Fitton said. “But another way to think about it is you have the Trump administration, the White House, in the hands of a newly elected president and then you have all the government organized against him thinking they can run Washington rather than the elected president and the laws of America.”
Gowdy says he will investigate but defends Obama
Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., the chairman of the House subcommittee on the National Security Agency, told Fox News Monday that his committee will investigate the latest charges, and if Trump or his surrogates were targeted by the Obama administration for surveillance through the FISA court, there will be a “paper trail.”
But Gowdy indicated he didn’t believe Obama would be involved in any decision to surveil the Trump campaign.
“I don’t think the FBI is the Obama team, and I don’t think the men and women who are career prosecutors at DOJ belong to any team other than a blindfolded woman holding a pair of scales,” Gowdy said.
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement that the committee “will make inquiries into whether the government was conducting surveillance activities on any political party’s campaign officials or surrogates.”
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, the chairman of the House oversight committee, said Monday he hasn’t seen any direct information yet that would back up President Trump’s claims that former President Barack Obama ordered wiretaps on phones in Trump Tower last year.
He must not have read the newspapers cited by Levin.
“Thus far, I have not seen anything directly that would support what the president has said,” Chaffetz said on “CBS This Morning.”
“It’s a very serious allegation. The president has at his fingertips tens of billions of dollars in intelligence apparatus,” he said. “I got to believe I think he might have something there, but if not we’re going to find out.”
Chaffetz said he did try to contact FBI Director James B. Comey over the weekend to hear what he had to say about it.
The New York Times reported Comey asked the Justice Department over the weekend to reject Trump’s claims, the Washington Times reported.
“I think it is interesting the Department of Justice has not yet weighed in on this and look forward to hearing what they’re going to say,” Chaffetz said.
Whatever the case, there is no reason to believe in “conspiracy theory,” as some Democrats have alleged, to believe that Obama would use the NSA and other parts of the sprawling intelligence-gathering apparatus to wage war on a political enemy.
List of Obama surveillance of friends and foes
WikiLeaks released the following list on Feb. 23 of Obama administration wire taps:
- The U.S. National Security Agency bugged a private climate change strategy meeting between U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin;
- Obama bugged chief of staff of U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for long term interception targeting his Swiss phone;
- Obama singled out the director of the rules division of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Johann Human, and targeted his Swiss phone for long term interception;
- Obama stole sensitive Italian diplomatic cables detailing how Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu implored Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to help patch up his relationship with President Obama, who was refusing to talk to Netanyahu;
- Obama intercepted top EU and Japanese trade ministers discussing their secret strategy and red lines to stop the U.S. “extort[ing]” them at the WTO Doha rounds (the talks subsequently collapsed);
- Obama explicitly targeted five other top EU economic officials for long term interception, including their French, Austrian and Belgium phone numbers;
- Obama explicitly targeted the phones of Italy’s ambassador to NATO and other top Italian officials for long term interception; and
- Obama intercepted details of a critical private meeting between then French president Nicolas Sarkozy, Merkel and Berlusconi in which the latter was told the Italian banking system was ready to “pop like a cork.”
In addition to the above list it’s also known now that Obama wiretapped various individuals in the U.S. media that were reporting information not flattering to the Obama administration. It is widely known that Obama’s Justice Department targeted journalists with wiretaps in 2013.
- In 2013, the left-leaning Washington Post expressed outrage after the revelation that the Justice Department had investigated the newsgathering activities of a Fox News reporter as a potential crime in a probe of classified leaks. The reporter, Fox News’ James Rosen and his family, were part of an investigation into government officials anonymously leaking information to journalists. Rosen was not charged but his movements and actions were tracked.
- Also in 2013, members of the Associated Press were a target of the surveillance. The liberal New Yorker even noted, “In moderate and liberal circles, at least, the phone-records scandal, partly because it involves the dear old A.P. and partly because it raises anew the specter of Big Brother, may well present the most serious threat to Obama’s reputation.”
- Reporter Sharyl Attkisson said in 2014 that her personal computer and CBS laptop were hacked after she began filing stories about Benghazi that were unflattering to the Obama administration. A source who checked her laptop said the hacker used spyware “proprietary to a government agency,” according to the New York Post.