Presidential Claims of Wiretapping, Like The President, Are Not To Be Taken Seriously
Wiretapping of the current President by the former President? Still no, but Devin Nunes set off a stunning new political controversy by revealing that communications of President Donald Trump and associates may have been picked up after the election by intelligence agencies conducting surveillance of foreign targets. Nunes told reporters the conversations were “incidentally” collected as part of intelligence sweeps focusing on other people and implied that Trump was not the target of the surveillance operation.
He said he discovered accounts of conversations related to Trump and his associates when he was reviewing intelligence reports brought to him by an unidentified person — and said the information was not related to Russia.
“This is a normal, incidental collection, based on what I could collect,” Nunes said. “This appears to be all legally collected foreign intelligence under” the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Nevertheless, the President was asked by reporters if he feels vindicated by the visit from Nunes and answered: “I somewhat do. I must tell you I somewhat do, I very much appreciated the fact that they found what they found.”
Trump’s Claims of Wiretapping Are Still False
As pointed out by Benjamin Wittes, Susan Hennessey and Quinta Jurecic, President Trump alleged in a series of tweets weeks ago (1) that his own wires were tapped—with two p’s, no less, (2) that a specific facility in the United States (Trump Tower) and that he personally were specifically targeted for collection, (3) that the surveillance was illegal, (4) that it took place during the campaign, and (5) that it was all ordered by his predecessor, Barack Hussein Obama.
Trump did not wake up early on a Saturday morning and tweet that the NSA or FBI in the course of its normal foreign intelligence operations incidentally intercepted communications or data involving the Trump transition. He didn’t allege that communications were intercepted legally. And he didn’t allege either that the problem—if there is a problem—lay in the masking or unmasking of U.S. persons in lawful intelligence community reporting.
That’s it. It’s over. Trump’s claims of wiretapping are false. I really didn’t want to write about yet another Trump claim that proved to be false, but here we are.