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Why yes, Obama did try to wiretap Trump Tower, and here are the details
The timing of Trump's tweet is a little strange, but the facts are plain as day.
I don't really know why Donald Trump decided yesterday to tweet about the Obama Administration trying to wiretap Trump Tower. But what was weird about it was not the content of the tweet. It was the timing. That this happened is not only beyond dispute, but it's been in the public's eye for weeks.
On January 17, Andrew McCarthy discussed it extensively in National Review. He referenced it again this past week in a piece about this whole Russian nonsense and Jeff Sessions:
To rehearse briefly, in the weeks prior to June 2016, the FBI did a preliminary investigation, apparently based on concerns about a server at Trump Tower that allegedly had some connection to Russian financial institutions. Even if there were such a connection, it is not a crime to do business with Russian banks — lots of Americans do. It should come as no surprise, then, that the FBI found no impropriety and did not proceed with a criminal investigation.
What is surprising, though, is that the case was not closed down.
Instead, the Obama Justice Department decided to pursue the matter as a national-security investigation under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). In June, it sought the FISA court’s permission to conduct surveillance on a number of Trump associates — and perhaps even Trump himself. It has been reported that Trump was “named” in the application, but it is not publicly known whether he (a) was named as a proposed wiretap target, or (b) was just mentioned in passing in the application.
Understand the significance of this: Only the Justice Department litigates before the FISA court; this was not some rogue investigators; this was a high level of Obama’s Justice Department — the same institution that, at that very moment, was whitewashing the Clinton e-mail scandal. And when Justice seeks FISA surveillance authority, it is essentially telling that court that there is probable cause to believe that the targets have acted as agents of a foreign power — that’s the only basis for getting a FISA warrant.
In this instance, the FISA court apparently found the Obama Justice Department’s presentation to be so weak that it refused to authorize the surveillance. That is telling, because the FISA court is generally very accommodating of government surveillance requests. Unwilling to take no for an answer, the Obama Justice Department came back to the FISA court in October — i.e., in the stretch run of the presidential campaign. According to various reports (and mind you, FISA applications are classified, so the leaks are illegal), the October application was much narrower than the earlier one and did not mention Donald Trump. The FISA Court granted this application, and for all we know the investigation is continuing.
So not only do we know that Obama's Justice Department sought permission from the FISA court to wiretap Trump Tower, but on its second try, they got it. And we don't know for sure that the wiretaps were ever discontinued.
So when left-wing Washington Post propagandist Chris Cillizza huffs that the "burden of proof" is on Trump to show that any of this happened, someone might want to forward this link to Cillizza - although I suppose he and others of his ilk may reject it out of hand because it comes from the conservative National Review. It's not our fault if NR covers the misdeeds of the Obama Administration and the Washington Post refuses to even do any reporting to find out if they're true.
Now, having said all that, I do think it's fair to scrutinize Trump's characterization of what happened. The mere fact that the Justice Department sought a wiretap and went through legal channels to get it does not prove this is Nixon's plumbers bugging the Watergate. But when a sitting Democrat administration wants to wiretap the offices of the Republican nominee during an election campaign, that should be the sort of thing that at the very least invites lots of scrutiny.
Instead, the media are insisting they will treat the whole thing as a big nothingburger unless Trump himself proves it is more than that. Do you think for even one second they would approach it this way if the party affiliations in this situation were the opposite of what they are?
You know damn well what the answer to that question is.
Dan's new novel, BACKSTOP, is a story of spiritual warfare and baseball. Download it from Amazon here!