On March 4th, Donald Trump claimed that the Obama Administration had wiretapped Trump Tower.
The resulting (and ongoing) investigation revealed no wiretapping, but it did prove that the Obama Administration gathered and shared data about persons related to Trump’s presidential campaign.
This Tuesday, The Washington Post reported on the existence of a FISA request to wiretap a Trump adviser:
“The FBI obtained a secret court order last summer to monitor the communications of Carter Page, an adviser to then-candidate Donald Trump, because the government had reason to believe Page was acting as a Russian agent.”
The judges who rule on FISA requests deal with the country’s most sensitive national security cases. These warrants are among the nation’s most closely guarded secrets, and applications must be approved by the highest levels of the FBI and DOJ before they are granted.
The warrant on Page accuses him of consorting with a Russian spy ring and of giving the Russians information about the energy industry. He has not been charged with any crimes.
“It is a pain in the neck to get permission to conduct electronic surveillance in the United States,” says FBI Director James Comey, arguing that the FISA process in and of itself ensures that the government’s spying powers are carefully used.
Page first caught the FBI’s attention in 2013, when counterintelligence agents learned that Russian spy suspects had tried to use Page as a source of information. Page is believed to have shared contact information with Victor Podobnyy, one of the suspects, at a June 2013 energy symposium in New York.
Page says he is “happy” that the court order has been revealed. He blames the Obama Administration for attempting to “suppress dissidents who did not fully support their failed foreign policy” and has compared the surveillance of him to the eavesdropping that the DOJ and FBI conducted against Martin Luther King Jr.
“It will be interesting to see what comes out when the unjustified basis for those FISA requests are more fully disclosed over time,” said Page.
Page took a trip to Moscow last summer, where he used to work as an investment banker. While he was there, he gave a speech that has been widely criticized as “anti-American.” In the speech, Page accused Washington of having a “hypocritical focus on ideas such as democratization, inequality, corruption, and regime change.”
The Trump campaign distanced itself from Page after his visit to Russia, naming him as an “informal adviser.” By the time Trump was elected, Page had no connection with Trump or his campaign.
Page’s name has come up in the FBI’s investigation into the suspected collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. This Monday, Comey finally admitted that yes, the FBI is investigating “the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 president election.”
“That includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts,” said Comey.
The FBI Director also said he has “no information” to support the claim that Obama wiretapped Trump. He did not say whether there was or was not a court order to bug Carter Page. Comey’s omissions leave many questions unanswered, including:
• Who ordered the spying on Page (Susan Rice? Loretta Lynch?)
• Why are we just hearing about this now?
• Who was getting the wiretap information?
As Adam Schiff (D-CA) of the House Intelligence Committee points out, it’s not a crime to have ties to Russia. “Many of Trump’s campaign personnel, including the President himself, have ties to Russia and Russian interests. This is, of course, no crime.”
“On the other hand, if the Trump campaign, or anybody associated with it, aided or abetted the Russians, it would not only be a serious crime, it would also represent one of the most shocking betrayals of our democracy in history.”
While the Dems continue this wild goose chase with Russia, we hope Comey will come to the conclusion that there was no cooperation between Trump personnel and Russian officials in regards to Trump’s presidential campaign.
Trump has already blasted the story (via Twitter) as fake news:
“James Clapper and other stated that there is no evidence POTUS colluded with Russia. The story is FAKE NEWS and everyone know it!”
Editor’s note: The evidence against Carter Page was clearly not sufficient. If he were guilty of anything the FBI would have been arrested by now. In my own mind this was not a criminal matter but a political move by the Obama administration.
I also believe that Comey’s statements were misleading, he should have disclosed this much earlier.