Trump Tweet Storm: Did Obama Bug His Office?

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President Trump has become quite famous (infamous?) now for his not infrequent forays into the Twitter-verse, and this latest expedition is no disappointment.  Earlier this morning, the Donald had plenty to say about his predecessor’s (former president Barack Obama’s) recently discovered actions:

Left-wing media sources instantly jumped on this with a rallying cry of “he cites no evidence;” which is technically correct, albeit with the heavy implication that none exists. Unfortunately for them, some evidence supporting the president’s claim does exist. On Thursday, popular radio show host, lawyer and former chief of staff for Edwin Meese (Attorney General during the Reagan administration) Mark Levin, laid out a case accusing president Obama’s administration of utilizing the intelligence capabilities of the United States in an attempt to influence the outcome of the election and then, once that didn’t work, to gravely undermine the new administration.

Breitbart News compiled Levin’s argument and premises into a timeline of activities, which can be viewed below, that clearly show Trump’s office was being monitored as part of a carefully constructed narrative designed to attach him to Russian espionage activity and damage his last second momentum. Wikileaks, which had been releasing heavily damaging email communication on Hillary Clinton, was rolled into the conspiracy, it seems, to help mitigate the damage caused to her candidacy.

1. June 2016: FISA request. The Obama administration files a request with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) to monitor communications involving Donald Trump and several advisers. The request, uncharacteristically, is denied.

2. July: Russia joke. Wikileaks releases emails from the Democratic National Committee that show an effort to prevent Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) from winning the presidential nomination. In a press conference, Donald Trump refers to Hillary Clinton’s own missing emails, joking: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.” That remark becomes the basis for accusations by Clinton and the media that Trump invited further hacking.

3. October: Podesta emails. In October, Wikileaks releases the emails of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, rolling out batches every day until the election, creating new mini-scandals. The Clinton campaign blames Trump and the Russians.

4. October: FISA request. The Obama administration submits a new, narrow request to the FISA court, now focused on a computer server in Trump Tower suspected of links to Russian banks. No evidence is found — but the wiretaps continue, ostensibly for national security reasons, Andrew McCarthy at National Review later notes. The Obama administration is now monitoring an opposing presidential campaign using the high-tech surveillance powers of the federal intelligence services.

5. January 2017: Buzzfeed/CNN dossier.Buzzfeed releases, and CNN reports, a supposed intelligence “dossier” compiled by a foreign former spy. It purports to show continuous contact between Russia and the Trump campaign, and says that the Russians have compromising information about Trump. None of the allegations can be verified and some are proven false. Several media outlets claim that they had been aware of the dossier for months and that it had been circulating in Washington.

6. January: Obama expands NSA sharing. As Michael Walsh later notes, and as the New York Times reports, the outgoing Obama administration “expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.” The new powers, and reduced protections, could make it easier for intelligence on private citizens to be circulated improperly or leaked.

7. January: Times report. The New York Times reports, on the eve of Inauguration Day, that several agencies — the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Treasury Department are monitoring several associates of the Trump campaign suspected of Russian ties. Other news outlets also report the existence of “a multiagency working group to coordinate investigations across the government,” though it is unclear how they found out, since the investigations would have been secret and involved classified information.

8. February: Mike Flynn scandal. Reports emerge that the FBI intercepted a conversation in 2016 between future National Security Adviser Michael Flynn — then a private citizen — and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The intercept supposedly was  part of routine spying on the ambassador, not monitoring of the Trump campaign. The FBI transcripts reportedly show the two discussing Obama’s newly-imposed sanctions on Russia, though Flynn earlier denied discussing them. Sally Yates, whom Trump would later fire as acting Attorney General for insubordination, is involved in the investigation. In the end, Flynn resigns over having misled Vice President Mike Pence (perhaps inadvertently) about the content of the conversation.

9. February: Times claims extensive Russian contacts. The New York Times cites “four current and former American officials” in reporting that the Trump campaign had “repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials. The Trump campaign denies the claims — and the Times admits that there is “no evidence” of coordination between the campaign and the Russians. The White House and some congressional Republicans begin to raise questions about illegal intelligence leaks.

10. March: the Washington Post targets Jeff Sessions. The Washington Post reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had contact twice with the Russian ambassador during the campaign — once at a Heritage Foundation event and once at a meeting in Sessions’ Senate office. The Post suggests that the two meetings contradict Sessions’ testimony at his confirmation hearings that he had no contacts with the Russians, though in context (not presented by the Post) it was clear he meant in his capacity as a campaign surrogate, and that he was responding to claims in the “dossier” of ongoing contacts. The New York Times, in covering the story, adds that the Obama White House “rushed to preserve” intelligence related to alleged Russian links with the Trump campaign. By “preserve” it really means “disseminate”: officials spread evidence throughout other government agencies “to leave a clear trail of intelligence for government investigators” and perhaps the media as well.

This ought to be deeply disconcerting to all Americans, not only because of this most recent infringement of the public trust, but ultimately because it is a symptom of a much more sinister, dangerous and virulent disease infecting modern American political action. Trump labeled the move “McCarthyism” in his tweet, but this calculated plot is much more akin to the vast propaganda enterprises utilized by socialists like Joseph Goebbels or Vladimir Lenin, as they demonized (and then brutalized) their enemies out of existence.

What do you believe? Was the former president using the power of the federal government in an attempt to influence the election unduly toward his party? If that is true, is the United States teetering on the edge of “banana republic” status? Will the new president continue the ways of the old political establishment, or perhaps break their hold and forge a new way forward? Let us know on Facebook or in the comments below.

About Patrick Stephens 163 Articles
Patrick is the founder and lead editor of the publication. Currently a pastor of many years by trade, Patrick served in the US Army and did his graduate work at both Miami University in Oxford, OH (Social Sciences) and the University of Dayton (Theology) — earning an advanced degree. He enjoys bringing a larger historical and philosophical perspective to his projects. Also, he likes comic books.