written by Clarice Feldman for The American Thinker
While Obama and the American Deep State’s initial surveillance was to stop Trump and help Clinton, Obama used FISA to provide a “national security” cover for politically spying on Trump right up to the inauguration. As the unmasking picked up pace after the election, the reasonable assumption is that its purpose was to undo the results of the election or hamstring the incoming President.
Now Obama and his allies are or should be terrified that the scope of the illegal surveillance is revealing their criminal acts. The Deep State is now growing increasingly desperate to find one crime by one person they can force by threat of jail to provide any shred of anything that might be used to justify their illegal espionage. FACT: “The left is sitting on the biggest crime committed by a sitting president. The only way to cover it up is to destroy his Republican successor. A turning point in history is here. If Obama goes down, the left will go down with him. If his coup succeeds, then America ends.”
As more and more leaks about the ongoing “Russian collusion” witch hunt by Robert Mueller appear in print, it seems to me that if Russia had been trying to erode our faith in our institutions, the Deep State is accomplishing what Russia failed to do.
The Obama claque’s efforts were initially intended to help Clinton when they thought she would win and no one would know about their crimes. Then they continued the unlawful spying to cover up their role in the worst case of misuse of federal power in our history, to effect the removal or emasculation of the President, and now they are desperate to cover up their illegal actions when all that failed.
A. Where we are today on “Russian collusion”?
Instapundit tweeted the answer succinctly: “The election was hacked!” turns out to mean, “Russia bought some ads on Facebook.”
Facebook is turning over ads presumably purchased by Russians during the campaign. Good — let’s see them. As the article notes:
The announcement that Facebook would share the ads with the Senate and House intelligence committees came after the social network spent two weeks on the defensive. The company faced calls for greater transparency about 470 Russia-linked accounts — in which fictional people posed as American activists — which were taken down after they had promoted inflammatory messages on divisive issues. Facebook had previously angered congressional staff by showing only a sample of the ads, some of which attacked Hillary Clinton or praised Donald J. Trump.
As Tom Maguire reminds us, it would be unwise to assume this was a one-sided campaign: “Let’s see all the ads and find out whether Russia was winding up both sides. Back in the day it was believed Russia backed anti-fracking groups in Europe. Why not also in the US?”
Best of the Web’s James Freeman thinks that, in any case, the notion that these ads swung the election is ridiculous on its face:
So the spending on fake Russian political ads identified by Facebook amounted to around 1/7,000th of what Mrs. Clinton spent on advertising. And of course these fake ad buys were not material in the context of Facebook’s total advertising revenues, which amounted to nearly $27 billion last year.
Is a $150,000 ad buy even big enough to require sign-off from Mr. Putin? If as some believe, Russian meddling was simply intended to discredit the likely winner, some poor Russian agent may now be headed to Siberia for engineering the election of a U.S. President who seems determined to drive down the price of oil.
Let’s hope Congress gets to the bottom of this. If $150,000 amounts to the entire iceberg, and it still managed to sink the S.S. Clinton, marketing majors will be studying these ads for years to come.
B. Using the Full Force of FISA to spy on a political opponent
Obama has a long history of spying on his opponents and releasing information damaging to them. It’s a lifelong pattern. He got two opponents’ sealed divorce records unsealed in order to use unsubstantiated claims in pleadings by estranged spouses against them. As President, he continued this practice. By way of example, the Obama Administration did that with IRS, collecting information about the activities and donors of conservative and pro-Israel citizen groups while it refused to grant them the tax-exempt status to which they were entitled. The EPA collected private information from farmers and ranchers and released it to environmental groups to help them in their battles against those farmers and ranchers. There’s no reason to suppose that this pattern didn’t carry over to the 2016 election, and plenty of evidence that it did. As Sharyl Attkisson points out, they did it with reporters and Congressmen.
Nobody wants our intel agencies to be used like the Stasi in East Germany; the secret police spying on its own citizens for political purposes. The prospect of our own NSA, CIA and FBI becoming politically weaponized has been shrouded by untruths, accusations and justifications.
You’ll recall DNI Clapper falsely assured Congress in 2013 that the NSA was not collecting “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.”
Intel agencies secretly monitored conversations of members of Congress while the Obama administration negotiated the Iran nuclear deal.
In 2014, the CIA got caught spying on Senate Intelligence Committee staffers, though CIA Director John Brennan had explicitly denied that.
There were also wiretaps on then-Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) in 2011 under Obama. The same happened under President George W. Bush to former Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-Calif.).
Journalists have been targeted, too. [snip]
The government subsequently got caught monitoring journalists at Fox News, The Associated Press, and, as I allege in a federal lawsuit, my computers while I worked as an investigative correspondent at CBS News.
As Attkisson reminds us, other Trump associates General Michael Flynn and Carter Page were also under government surveillance. As bad as that was, it was ”discovered [that] multiple Trump “transition officials” were “incidentally” captured during government surveillance of a foreign official. We know this because former Obama adviser Susan Rice reportedly admitted “unmasking,” or asking to know the identities of, the officials. Spying on U.S. citizens is considered so sensitive their names are supposed to be hidden or “masked,” even inside the government, to protect their privacy.”
She also specifically unmasked Steve Bannon, who met in the transition period with a UAE official so it’s altogether possible they were spying on him generallyas well.
If so, that would mean that four Trump associates had been spied on, multiplying the number of conversations with the President these people were listening in on.
Even more “unmasking”– revealing the names of those innocents scooped up in this broad surveillance — about 300 people had their privacy violated when the dyspeptic-looking UN Ambassador Samantha Power was revealed to have made almost one unmasking request a day, rapidly adding to the list as the inauguration approached.
Samantha Power, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was ‘unmasking’ at such a rapid pace in the final months of the Obama administration that she averaged more than one request for every working day in 2016 — and even sought information in the days leading up to President Trump’s inauguration, multiple sources close to the matter told Fox News.
Two sources, who were not authorized to speak on the record, said the requests to identify Americans whose names surfaced in foreign intelligence reporting, known as unmasking, exceeded 260 last year. One source indicated this occurred in the final days of the Obama White House.
C. The FISA Court surely was misled in order to get information to surveil and to continue surveilling Trump and his associates.
FISA (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) permits blunderbuss intelligence gathering. It’s not designed to gather information on crimes in general, but only to act as a tool of counterintelligence or counterterrorism. And it certainly would be suspicious if efforts were made to misuse it to conduct domestic political spying. There’s only one legitimate reason to conduct surveillance on a U.S. citizen under FISA — to find out more about the activities of a foreign power or terrorist organization. Since in the process of scooping up so much information, other matters might be revealed, “minimization” procedures are used to mask the identities of those caught up in the sweep who are not involved in such activities.
CNN reported — with some obvious omissions and errors of law — that former FBI director James Comey secured secret FISA orders to wiretap Paul Manafort, who briefly served as Trump’s campaign manager, and that having received nothing from that order, then secured another FISA warrant in 2016 (after Manafort joined the Trump campaign) and continued that surveillance into 2017, after the election.
Further, CNN reported that two attempts were made in the summer of 2016 to obtain a FISA order, both of which were rejected, and an order was issued only after the third try. FISA rarely rejects such requests, so I think it fair to assume the court was suspicious of these requests, which smelled like political, not national security matters. I think it almost a certainty that the final request received the personal imprimatur of Comey (as Director of the FBI) and Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
And what, you may ask, was different about the third and ultimately successful third attempt? I suggest it was the phony Steele dossier, which credible reports indicate was partially financed by Comey’s own FBI.
The House Intelligence Committee’s investigation took a sharp and notable turn on Tuesday, as news broke that it had subpoenaed the FBI and the Justice Department for information relating to the infamous Trump “Dossier.” That Dossier, whose allegations appear to have been fabricated, was commissioned by the opposition-research firm Fusion GPS and then developed by a former British spook named Christopher Steele. [Ed: Sources for the most scurrilous allegations in it were from unnamed sources in Russia, most likely Russian government intelligence agents or liars working on a pay for dirt basis.]
The Washington Post in February reported that Mr. Steele “was familiar” to the FBI, since he’d worked for the bureau before. The newspaper said Mr. Steele had reached out to a “friend” at the FBI about his Trump work as far back as July 2016. The Post even reported that Mr. Steele “reached an agreement with the FBI a few weeks before the election for the bureau to pay him to continue his work.”
Who was Mr. Steele’s friend at the FBI? Did the bureau influence the direction of the Trump dossier? Did it give Mr. Steele material support from the start? The timing matters because it could answer the vital question of why the FBI wanted the dossier. Here’s one thought: warrants.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees spying activities, is usually generous in approving warrants, on the presumption law-enforcement agencies are acting in good faith. When a warrant is rejected, though, law enforcement isn’t pleased.
Perhaps the FBI wanted to conduct surveillance on someone connected to a presidential campaign (Carter Page?) but couldn’t hit what was — and ought to be — a supremely high bar for getting such a potentially explosive warrant. A dossier of nefarious allegations might well prove handy in finally convincing the FISA court to sign off. The FBI might have had a real motive to support Mr. Steele’s effort. It might have even justified the unjustifiable: working with a partisan oppo-research firm and a former spook to engineer a Kremlin-planted dossier that has roiled Mr. Trump’s entire presidency.
True Pundit claims that FBI connivance with GPS Fusion to create the dossier was not all it did to secure the final 2016 FISA warrant — it also set up a meeting in Trump Tower and used information gleaned from Britain’s GCHQ in NSA headquarters to unlawfully gather information on U.S. citizens.
From the beginning it was a set up to find dirt on Trump campaign insiders and if possible to topple Donald Trump’s presidential aspirations.
Before and after the 2016 election. And while this operation had many moving parts and alternating players, the mission to unseat Trump never changed. And it remains ongoing.
And none of it was very legal.
Six U.S. agencies [the FBI, NSA, CIA, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Treasury financial crimes division under DHS, Justice Department]created a stealth task force, spearhead by CIA’s Brennan, to run domestic surveillance on Trump associates and possibly Trump himself.
To feign ignorance and to seemingly operate within U.S. laws, the agencies freelanced the wiretapping of Trump associates to the British spy agency GCHQ.
The decision to insert GCHQ as a back door to eavesdrop was sparked by the denial of two FISA Court warrant applications filed by the FBI to seek wiretaps of Trump associates.
GCHQ did not work from London or the UK. In fact the spy agency worked from NSA’s headquarters in Fort Meade, MD with direct NSA supervision and guidance to conduct sweeping surveillance on Trump associates.
The Justice Department and FBI set up the meeting at Trump Tower between Trump Jr., Manafort and Kushner with controversial Russian officials to make Trump’s associates appear compromised.
Following the Trump Tower sit down, GCHQ began digitally wiretapping Manafort, Trump Jr., and Kushner.
After the concocted meeting by the Deep State, the British spy agency could officially justify wiretapping Trump associates as an intelligence front for NSA because the Russian lawyer at the meeting, Natalia Veselnitskaya, was considered an international security risk and prior to the June sit down was not even allowed entry into the United States or the UK, federal sources said.
By using GCHQ, the NSA and its intelligence partners had carved out a loophole to wiretap Trump without a warrant. While it is illegal for U.S. agencies to monitor phones and emails of U.S. citizens inside the United States absent a warrant, it is not illegal for British intelligence to do so. Even if the GCHQ was tapping Trump on U.S. soil at Fort Meade.
The wiretaps, secured through illicit scheming, have been used by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of alleged Russian collusion in the 2016 election, even though the evidence is considered “poisoned fruit.”
Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who spearheaded the Trump Tower meeting with the Trump campaign trio, was previously barred from entering the United Sates due to her alleged connections to the Russian FSB (the modern replacement of the cold-war-era KGB).
Yet mere days before the June meeting, Veselnitskaya was granted a rare visa to enter the United States from Preet Bharara, the then U.S. Attorney for the southern district of New York. Bharara could not be reached for comment and did not respond the a Twitter inquiry on the Russian’s visa by True Pundit.
(More on the unusual visa granted to Veselnitskaya here. More on GCHQ operating from NSA headquarters here.)
In July, Bharara’s former associate US Attorney Andrew Goldstein was added to Mueller’s army of largely Clinton backers and contributors to the special counsel’s enormous team.
In sum, the contention by True Pundit is that the government first spied on Trump and then concocted a national security ruse and desperately sought a FISA warrant to cover up the political spying which occurred before the FISA warrant was ever issued.
The editors of the Wall Street Journal also suspect that the dossier was used to obtain the FISA warrant, and, if so, that requires a congressional investigation:
The FISA court sets a high bar for warrants on U.S. citizens, and presumably even higher for wiretapping a presidential campaign. Did Mr. Comey’s FBI marshal the Steele dossier to persuade the court?
All of this is reason for House and Senate investigators to keep exploring how Mr. Comey’s FBI was investigating both presidential campaigns. Russian meddling is a threat to democracy but so was the FBI if it relied on Russian disinformation to eavesdrop on a presidential campaign. The Justice Department and FBI have stonewalled Congressional requests for documents and interviews, citing the “integrity” of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
But Mr. Mueller is not investigating the FBI, and in any event his ties to the bureau and Mr. Comey make him too conflicted for such a job. Congress is charged with providing oversight of law enforcement and the FISA courts, and it has an obligation to investigate their role in 2016. The intelligence committees have subpoena authority and the ability to hold those who don’t cooperate in contempt.
I agree with Daniel Greenfield. Based on what I’ve read and observed, while the initial surveillance was to stop Trump and help Clinton, Obama used FISA to provide a “national security” cover for politically spying on Trump right up to the inauguration. As he notes, the first 2016 application was made the month after Trump obtained the nomination and the second in October, the month before the election.
As the unmasking picked up pace after the election, the reasonable assumption is that its purpose was to undo the results of the election or hamstring the incoming President.
Now Obama and his allies are or should be terrified that the scope of the illegal surveillance is revealing their criminal acts.
This is why I believe Mueller is growing increasingly desperate to find one crime by one person he can force by threat of jail to provide any shred of anything that might be used to justify their illegal espionage. Greenfield’s conclusion is apt: “The left is sitting on the biggest crime committed by a sitting president. The only way to cover it up is to destroy his Republican successor. A turning point in history is here. If Obama goes down, the left will go down with him. If his coup succeeds, then America ends.”
Why do I say that Mueller seems increasingly desperate? How else does one explain a middle-of-the-night pick-lock armed entry (and the search of his bedclothes-garbed wife) into the home of a man who by all accounts had been fully cooperating and turning over all requested documents? How else to explain requesting a court grant such a necessary special warrant on the ground that otherwise documents evincing a purported eleven-year-old crime would suddenly be destroyed? How else to explain the effort by Mueller to find out client information from the Skadden Arps and Akin Gump law firms, materials probably covered by attorney-client privilege? With each leak of his conduct – designed, I suppose, by his team to terrify honest men into lying to redeem the special counsel’s misbegotten efforts — Mueller looks more and more like a petrified enlistee in the secretive repressive state force — the Stasi — as the wall is coming down and their conduct made public.