It’s been a few months since we discussed Trump’s accusation that the Obama Administration had been spying on him during and after the election.  I’m a bit surprised that Trump quit talking about it, honestly.  This is another “sources are sayin’ shit” story out of CNN, but let’s run with it anyway.

US investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election, sources tell CNN, an extraordinary step involving a high-ranking campaign official now at the center of the Russia meddling probe.

The government snooping continued into early this year, including a period when Manafort was known to talk to President Donald Trump.
Some of the intelligence collected includes communications that sparked concerns among investigators that Manafort had encouraged the Russians to help with the campaign, according to three sources familiar with the investigation. Two of these sources, however, cautioned that the evidence is not conclusive.

The article firmly emphasizes that it’s unknown if Trump himself was picked up on any incidental surveillance but acknowledges that it’s possible.  Still, this takes me back to our last discussion on the topic:

Team Obama has denied that Obama directed or authorized any wiretaps against Trump, but I haven’t seen that any of them have denied that there were any wiretaps.  That’s a meaningful distinction and it means that Trump is telling the truth in his latest Tweetstorm and that Obama’s people are telling the truth in their denials, but both parties are still misrepresenting the truth, as is expected of them.  If this version is correct, Trump is exaggerating the circumstances and incorrectly blaming Obama while Obama’s people are downplaying the significance of their Administration having been spying on the opposing party’s candidate.

I think I nailed it.  Thoughts?

Just to make it clear that I’m not patting myself on the back, I also said this:

This is going to kill the Russian Narrative, guys.

Well, that clearly didn’t pan out.  Comey’s clumsy firing and Mueller’s consequential appointment injected it with steroids shortly after I wrote that.

So what does it mean?  I’ll say I think it’s fishy that Manafort had a FISA warrant brought against him while the election was still going on.  He had been under surveillance long before joining Trump’s campaign team, starting in 2014.  The FISA warrant was allowed to expire in early 2016 and then was renewed in August of that year when the Clinton campaign was yelling about Russian interference.  Some are saying that probable cause for the warrant may have been based on the Buzzfeed dossier, which the FBI should have known to be unreliable, and if that’s true then the warrant was illegal.  Eh, I don’t know about any of that.  Interesting argument though.

Initially, I will say that Manafort likely was legitimately targeted for some ancillary crime and could be indicted.  That might explain why Trump didn’t keep pushing the issue, since he figured out that it wasn’t going to do any good to go to war over a doomed man.  Still, I’m going to say that Trump was telling the truth in his original tweets.  The Obama Administration does appear to have been spying on his campaign and transition teams.

This story comes less than a week after we learned that Susan Rice lied on national television (again) about her role in the “unmasking scandal”.  When you look at the behavior of the intelligence community before the election, there’s a growing preponderance of evidence that it was interfering in the election offensively against Trump.  Simultaneously, it’s obvious that the Justice Department and FBI was being politically used defensively on behalf of Hillary Clinton.

There are a lot of progressives online cheering about the news that Manafort could be indicted at any moment.  I’ve spoken about this before.  I think they’re insane for celebrating this, given what actions were taken to gather the evidence.  If there were to be even a whiff about the Trump Administration doing anything with regard to the 2020 Election that the Obama Administration has in 2016, there could be war in the streets.

I wonder why shouldn’t the Trump Administration empower the intelligence and law enforcement apparatuses to interfere in the next campaign?  The precedent has now been set.  Really, are you going to legitimize what has been done for the sake of bringing down lowly Paul Manafort?  The consequences may far outweigh the reward. If you don’t think this spying and obfuscating should not be thoroughly investigated and people held accountable for any abuses, then you’re blessing it being done to a future Democrat. No wriggle room on this.

Clearly, there’s much more to be revealed, but with every new revelation I find myself less and less concerned about Kremlin-motivated Facebook ads and instead more and more angry about the Obama Administration’s and “Deep State’s” campaign to influence the election, undermine the current president, and destroy our institutions by abusing the tools it should have been using to defend them.

2 comments

  1. Not understanding how this is interfering with the election. Manafort was under surveillance long before he became Trump’s campaign manager and resumed after he was forced out for lying about his ties to the Ukraine. Are we not supposed to investigate potential foreign agents because they are part of a political campaign?

  2. It’s interfering with the election if the Obama Administration was gathering opposition research by monitoring campaign officials–and possibly Trump himself. It’s interference and undermining the Trump Administration if they did these activities specifically so that the intercepted information could be leaked.

    Manafort was under surveillance and nothing was found. AFAIK, the investigation was re-opened only after the Clinton campaign/DNC started making accusations about Russia in August. Keep in mind that this was occurring even as Mueller had chosen not to seriously investigate Clinton.

    Why was the Obama Administration pursuing a man affiliated with an opposition campaign that they had already investigated and found nothing on while not investigating their own parties’ nominee?

    You can agree or disagree with me on the circumstances surrounding Manafort, but I can tell you that we’d be deafened by the shrieking from Democrats if the Trump Administration did any of this. The mere appearance that the tools given to the intelligence agencies to protect us from foreign threats were used for political purposes is extremely serious and there has to be full accountability. We’re owed an explanation as to why this was done, to know what evidence was given to provide probable cause, to learn who authorized the surveillance, and what was found.

    You’re a civil libertarian. You get this.

    The burden of proving that this wasn’t politically-motivated is 100% on the Obama Administration officials who would have had to seek the warrant. Between the examples of Lynch and Rice, I’m not sure they can satisfy that though.

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