Trump inadvertently confirms that a federal warrant was issued allowing counter-intelligence officials to look at members of his campaign.
Earlier this morning, Trump launched a flurry of tweets lashing out at President Obama, accusing him of wire-tapping his phones in Trump Tower.
Nothing too outstanding, considering that he is known for his childish Twitter tirades. However, one tweet in particular caught my attention because he specified the month of October in it.
I'd bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
Indeed, I called several friends telling them that something must have happened in October that has Trump concerned.
Lo and behold, his tweet caught the attention of Louise Mensch, a British journalist who self-describes herself on Twitter as being “conservative.”
Mensch posted a series of tweets directed at Trump’s tweet referencing the month of October, starting with the following tweet stating: “Note that the Suspect Trump admits US tapped his phones ‘in October right before the victory’ -consistent with my #FISA warrant exclusive.”
Note that the Suspect Trump admits US tapped his phones "in October right before the victory" -consistent with my #FISA warrant exclusive
— Louise Mensch (@LouiseMensch) March 4, 2017
As we learn from subsequent tweets, she is referring to an article she published for Heat Street last November alleging that the FBI was granted a FISA warrant covering his campaign’s ties to Russia.
As her article explains:
Two separate sources with links to the counter-intelligence community have confirmed to Heat Street that the FBI sought, and was granted, a FISA court warrant in October, giving counter-intelligence permission to examine the activities of ‘U.S. persons’ in Donald Trump’s campaign with ties to Russia.
For those unfamiliar with the term FISA court, Wikipedia defines it as follows:
The United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC, also called the FISA Court) is a U.S. federal court established and authorized under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) to oversee requests for surveillance warrants against foreign spies inside the United States by federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Such requests are made most often by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Congress created FISA and its court as a result of the recommendations by the U.S. Senate’s Church Committee. Its powers have evolved to the point that it has been called “almost a parallel Supreme Court.”
Mensch goes on to explain in her article that: “The fact that the alleged warrant was a FISA warrant is itself significant. The court exists to grant warrants to examine cases concerned with Foreign Intelligence.”
Pursuant to FISA, the Court entertains applications submitted by the United States Government for approval of electronic surveillance, physical search, and other investigative actions for foreign intelligence purposes. Most of the Court’s work is conducted ex parte as required by statute, and due to the need to protect classified national security information.
She goes on to quote Bradley P. Moss, a national security lawyer, who told her that:
If a FISA warrant was issued, it does not necessarily mean that the court considered any U.S. persons as literal ‘spies.’ I can imagine an argument having been made that there was probable cause to believe they were “agents of influence” who were unwittingly being influenced by a foreign power.
If the operation concerns suspected money laundering involving a foreign government, the FISA warrant could theoretically encompass U.S. persons in that limited context. A FISA warrant is authorization to collect evidence, not to arrest.
This is huge; and, if it proves to be true, Trump may have just committed a near-fatal error by making that admission.
And there seems to be every reason to believe her article. As she tweeted later today – both The Guardian confirmed her article and the BBC independently confirmed her allegations about the issuance of a FISA warrant.
— Louise Mensch (@LouiseMensch) March 4, 2017
Additionally, The Guardian reported today on the connection between Trump’s tweet and Mensch’s article.
The Guardian went on to explain that Trump’s claim that Obama ordered the wire taps was baseless:
Obama’s former deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, tweeted back at Trump: “No president can order a wiretap. Those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you.”
Later an Obama spokesman, Kevin Lewis, issued a statement that did not deny there was a wiretapping but did deny that Obama ordered one.
“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,” the statement said.
“As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any US citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.”
On a lighter note, Mensch’s latest tweet at the time of publication of this article mocks Trump’s likely impeachment.
Oh what a beautiful morning,
Oh what a beautiful day,
I’ve got a beautiful fee-ling,
Donald is going away