Five Questions to Understand Why Trump Accuses Obama of Spying
These were undoubtedly the most serious accusations that US President Donald Trump has ever made: in a series of tweets, Trump accused former President Barack Obama of having tapped the Trump Tower in New York York, during the election.
The claim seemed to come as a surprise and was not supported by any evidence. Obama’s first spokesman, former US intelligence chief James Clapper denied any staple had been requested.
Trump accuses Obama of clipping his phone during election campaign and President Trump, through his press secretary, Sean Spicer, urged Congress to investigate the “troubling” allegations along with his current investigations into Russian hacking activity during the election.
What are Congressional Committees already investigating?
US House and Senate intelligence committees are currently studying the possibility of Russian interference during the 2016 elections. Investigations initiated in January.
They have promised far-reaching investigations, carried out on a bipartisan basis that will not hesitate to look for potential links between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, as well as to analyze Russian “cyber activity.”
Both committees have admitted that these will be lengthy investigations, and at least one member of the House intelligence committee expressed their annoyance that another step was being added.
“Ok @PressSec, as a member of the committee where you dumped this mess, I look forward to seeing your evidence,” tweeted Democrat Jim Himes.
Is there any evidence?
Trump and his team provided no evidence to say that the Trump Tower phones had been stapled, and now Clapper, who was director of National Intelligence, categorically denied that such an order existed.
As director of intelligence, he told NBC, he would have known about a “court order or something.”
Could Obama have ordered surveillance?
Obama’s team has totally denied any involvement, saying that Trump’s tweets are “simply fake.”
A warrant, if it existed, would probably have been ordered by the Justice Department regardless of the White House.
On Sunday, former Press Secretary Josh Earnest told ABC, “This may come as a surprise to the current occupant of the Oval Office, but the president of the United States does not have the authority to order the tapping of an American citizen unilaterally.”
“If the FBI decided to use its wiretapping authority in the context of counterintelligence or criminal investigation, it would require FBI investigators, Department of Justice officials to go to a federal court, and to construct a case, to demonstrate probable causes for using that authority to conduct the investigation. “That is a fact.”
The only way Obama could have ordered surveillance without going through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) is if there were no US citizens involved.
In this case, considering that the target is supposedly the Trump Tower – which involves American citizens – this would have been difficult to argue.
What is the FISA court?
FISA’s court was described by CNN as probably “the most powerful court you’ve ever heard of.”
The court approves warrants against “agents of a foreign power,” principally for the FBI or the NSA.
Any request for an investigation must be approved by 11 judges.
Where did the stabbing charge come from?
Rumors of an order granted under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act have been circulating for some time.
On November 7 – the day before the country goes to the polls – former British MP for the Conservative Party Louise Mensch reported that an order was passed by the court in October.
According to Mensch, the request had to do with a private server and the activity between two banks of Russia.
She also mentioned – like Trump in her tweets – that an earlier order had been refused.
In January, BBC reporter Paul Wood, writing about allegations that the Russian government had compromising material on Trump – said he also knew about the FISA order.
According to Wood, the CIA and the NSA have requested permission to intercept telephone records from two Russian banks. The suspicion was that there was money from the Kremlin going into the presidential campaign of the United States. The request would have been released in October.
Neither Trump nor his aides were mentioned in the order, Wood said.
The British newspaper Guardian also mentioned the order at around the same time.
None of them pick up wiretaps.
The stabbing suspect was not mentioned again until Mark Levin, a conservative radio host in the United States, spoke on the matter last Thursday, referring to the case as a “silent coup.”
His show was followed by an article on the conservative Breitbart News website on Friday, which tells of wiretaps and “espionage” requested by the “Obama administration.” The sources of the information were unclear.
None of this has been confirmed by any authority.
President Trump’s tweets were published the following morning.