This is a pretty stunning headline.
The USA Today published an article titled “Did Obama spy on Trump?”
Then the opening line of the article reads: “It isn’t out of the question. The former president’s administration wiretapped journalists and spied on Congress.”
Folks, this is a major national paper making the claim that former President Obama engaged in KGB-like spying on journalists and Congress. Totally beyond the bounds of what any American should tolerate!
Here’s more in this video:
Here’s more from the USA Today article:
So President Trump set off a firestorm over the weekend with a series of tweets alleging that Obama had tapped Trump Tower. But getting hung up on imprecise language in the president’s tweets isn’t the right way to look at things. What seems to be at true is that the Obama administration spied on some of Trump’s associates and we don’t know exactly how much information was collected under what authority and who was targeted.
As former prosecutor Andrew McCarthy summarizes in National Review, the Obama Justice Department considered a criminal investigation aimed at a number of Trump’s associates. When they didn’t find anything criminal, they converted the investigation into an intelligence probe under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Elements of that story have been confirmed by The New York Times, the BBC and McClatchy newspapers.
FISA surveillance has to be approved by a special court, which almost always allows the government to spy on people when asked. But when the Justice Department asked to spy on several of Trump’s associates, the court refused permission, according to the BBC. As McCarthy writes, this is notable because “the FISA court is notoriously solicitous of government requests to conduct national security surveillance.”
Not taking no for an answer, the Obama administration came back during the final weeks of the election with a narrower request that didn’t specifically mention Trump. That narrower request was granted by the court, but reports from the Guardian and the BBC don’t mention the tapping of phones..
Former Obama officials issued denials that the former president had anything to do with it, which McCarthy calls “disingenuous on several levels.” Others have characterized them as a “non-denial denial.”
To the Obama camp’s claim that the president didn’t “order” surveillance of Trump, McCarthy writes:
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.