A Democrat administration was wire-tapping officials of a Republican presidential campaign, for reasons that look increasingly flimsy, and no one in the media seems to think it's a story

It's looking like Obama and Comey wire-tapped Trump Tower after all, and that's just the start

By —— Bio and Archives--September 21, 2017

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Here’s a question to ponder about the “Russia interfered” story that has thus far produced nothing of substance to justify its own existence: Was the whole thing contrived in order to justify a Democratic administration wiretapping a Republican campaign?

When the FBI wants to wiretap someone, it has to go to a judge under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and present reasonable cause to believe that someone is acting as an agent of a foreign government. Paul Manafort, who briefly served as chairman of the Trump campaign in 2016, has had lots of business dealings with Russia over the years, so if you wanted to catch him talking to Russians, it wouldn’t be hard to do so.

Democrat administration concocts a legal rationale for doing the exact same thing Nixon’s plumbers did at the Watergate

What if the FBI went to the FISA court and presented evidence that Manafort talks to Russia a lot (which I’m sure he does), and insinuated that this was evidence that he was operating as a de facto Russian agent. What if the FBI knew this was nonsense but was under pressure from the Obama Administration to find an excuse to wiretap someone connected to Donald Trump?

In other words, a Democrat administration concocts a legal rationale for doing the exact same thing Nixon’s plumbers did at the Watergate.

Absurd, you say? You sure about that?

CNN reported Monday that the FBI obtained a warrant last year to eavesdrop on Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s campaign manager from May to August in 2016. The story claims the FBI first wiretapped Mr. Manafort in 2014 while investigating his work as a lobbyist for Ukraine’s ruling party. That warrant lapsed, but the FBI convinced the court that administers the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to issue a second order as part of its probe into Russian meddling in the election.

Guess who has lived in a condo in Trump Tower since 2006? Paul Manafort.

The story suggests the monitoring started in the summer or fall, and extended into early this year. While Mr. Manafort resigned from the campaign in August, he continued to speak with Candidate Trump. It is thus highly likely that the FBI was listening to the political and election-related conversations of a leading contender for the White House. That’s extraordinary—and worrisome.

Mr. Comey told Congress in late March that he “had no information that supports those [Trump] tweets.” Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was even more specific that “there was no such wiretap activity mounted against—the President-elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign.” He denied that any such FISA order existed. Were they lying?

The warrant’s timing may also shed light on the FBI’s relationship to the infamous “ Steele dossier.” That widely discredited dossier claiming ties between Russians and the Trump campaign was commissioned by left-leaning research firm Fusion GPS and developed by former British spy Christopher Steele—who relied on Russian sources. But the Washington Post and others have reported that Mr. Steele was familiar to the FBI, had reached out to the agency about his work, and had even arranged a deal in 2016 to get paid by the FBI to continue his research.

The FISA court sets a high bar for warrants on U.S. citizens, and presumably even higher for wiretapping a presidential campaign. Did Mr. Comey’s FBI marshal the Steele dossier to persuade the court?

When President Trump declared earlier this year that Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower, the media’s sole mission was to parse Trump’s exact words to show that his precise literal language could not be supported by any known facts. This was seen as a much greater journalistic imperative than finding out if one administration tried to bug the campaign of its political opponents for baldly partisan reasons.

Continued below...

Obama’s DOJ put in the fix on the Hillary e-mail investigation

As a result, you heard the constant refrain that Trump had made a wild accusation backed up by no evidence. That Obama had surely not wiretapped Trump Tower was treated as a given, not even worthy of discussion.

How about now?

Now let’s go back to my question at the start: The whole rationale given by Comey’s FBI to the FISA court for wiretapping Manafort was that they thought he was colluding with the Russians to influence the election. For a story that’s been so widely reported and so deeply investigated, we have yet to see any actual evidence to back up the charge. And yet official Washington continues to treat the charge as if it’s credible.


Here’s a possible reason: An awful lot of official Washington knows this was BS from the beginning. They know that the Obama Justice Department was looking for ways to help Hillary defeat Trump. We know all too well that Obama’s DOJ put in the fix on the Hillary e-mail investigation, and that Comey played ball on that even if he did so reluctantly. If they would do that, why wouldn’t they concoct a flimsy legal rationale for wiretapping Trump’s campaign chairman? You probably won’t uncover any evidence Manafort was colluding with Russia, because you knew at the start that was nonsense. But maybe you’d catch Trump saying something on a call with Manafort that could prove damaging in the campaign.


The media today? Pretty much as you’d expect: Move along, nothing to see here

If so, someone could always leak it to the Times and the Post on condition of anonymity. If you don’t think this sounds like the way Washington operates you haven’t been paying attention.

An awful lot of so-called scandals are compared to Watergate, and often the comparison is pretty hard to justify. The parallels to Watergate here are hard to ignore. Nixon bugged the DNC headquarters. Obama may have wiretapped Trump’s campaign chairman. And neither appears to have been very forthcoming about what happened or why.

The difference, of course, is that the media went bonkers covering Watergate, and to this day considers it an achievement that they brought down a president. The media today? Pretty much as you’d expect: Move along, nothing to see here.


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Dan Calabrese -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Dan Calabrese’s column is distributed by HermanCain.com, which can be found at HermanCain

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