In the odd-Trump news of the week, the president accused former President Barack Obama of wiretapping the phones at Trump Tower in the period leading up to the election. Naturally, Trump expressed his anger via Twitter, without citing evidence. A spokesman for the Obama administration flatly denied the allegations. Nevertheless, Trump persisted.
The story begins in June of 2016. The Justice Department and the FBI mounted an investigation into a few of Trump’s associates on connections to Russian financial institutions. It morphed into a national security investigation, which lead to a FISA (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) request. FISA “allows the government, if it gets court permission, to conduct electronic surveillance (which could include wiretapping, monitoring of e-mail, and the like) against those it alleges are ‘agents of a foreign power.'” The FISA court denied the administration’s request, but the administration tried again in October.
The October request was approved by the court. However, according to Andrew McCarthy at National Review, the application avoids mentioning Trump by name.
The logistics of all this are as suspect as could be.
Equally suspect are the claims from the Obama administration’s spokesman, Kevin Lewis, who’s been tasked with doing damage control. Lewis boldly claimed:
“A cardinal rule of the Obama administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice…As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.”
Now I’m old enough to remember when the Obama administration and Attorney General Eric Holder targeted Fox News correspondent James Rosen. Rosen was designated a criminal co-conspirator and a flight risk for publishing sensitive information in a story about North Korea.
We can add Rosen’s case to the pile of the Obama administration’s legal scandals: IRS targeting conservatives, Fast and Furious, etc.
Whether Trump’s allegations hold any water remains to be seen. White House officials have their work cut out for them as they try to put out this fire, and it doesn’t look like we’ll have any definitive answers anytime soon.