Saturday, March 4, 2017

Some Thoughts About Trump's Tweeted Allegations About Wiretapping

Our tweeter-in-chief is at it again.  In a series of tweets this morning, President Trump alleged that President Obama "had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower."  Although the press have asked the White House for more elaboration, nothing has been forthcoming.  Indeed, it appears most of his staff were themselves surprised at the tweet storm.

It has been well over six hours, and the White House has still not elaborated on the allegations or offered any evidence that they are true.  If they fail to do so, this will only confirm the dangerously impulsive nature of this President.  It suggests that at 6 am on some future morning, he will impulsively order military action based on an article in Breitbart News.

I have no doubt that Trump made these accusations as a way to divert attention from the ever increasing evidence of contacts between Russian officials and his campaign.  His modis operandi (which has worked well up to now) is to deny, deceive and divert.  Ironically, however, if his allegations are true, they actually reinforce  the fact that there is a serious concern by counter-intelligence officials that members of the Trump Campaign were working as agents of the Russian State.

Let me explain.  Presidents do not have any authority to order a wiretap.  Instead, any domestic wiretap for counter-intelligence purposes requires (1) review and work by career prosecutors in the Department of Justice's National Security Division, (2) approval by the Attorney General, and (3) approval by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act ("FISA") Court.  Approval of a FISA application requires the court find probable cause that the target of the surveillance be a "foreign power" or an "agent of a foreign power."  In other word, a court would only have ordered a wiretap at Trump Tower if there was probable cause that the folks at Trump Tower were agents of the Russian Government.

To be clear, I seriously doubt that there was such a wiretap.  Indeed, senior law enforcement officials in the Obama Administration deny that there was any such wiretap.  Most likely, Trump made these allegations after reading a post on the Breitbart News site. Indeed, some of the specific details alleged in that Breitbart News piece are repeated in Trump's tweets (such as the allegation that the FISA court had initially denied a wiretap), which strongly suggests that Trump's tweet storm was based on the article and not any formal briefing.  And the discussion of the FISA warrants in the article really don't ring true to any of us actually familiar with the process.  But if there was such a wiretap, it suggests that law enforcement and intelligence officials had probable cause that the Trump Campaign was acting as an agent of the Russian government.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for that post , it seems that the respectable author of the post , has missed many other possibilities , just one of them :

    Trump has reached the conclusion , that information , known only to him , has been leaked somehow . Now , for a layman , how can it be ?? well , surveillance somehow !! And how ?? well the most common would be wiretapping .

    Yet , there are many other ways , by which , a person , or groups can be monitored , without really getting any official approval , or judicial review . Yet, for an inexperienced person, the most obvious and common possibility, would be: Wiretapping him or his phone.

    Examples :

    There is a technology , called " stingray " through which , the FBI , and ordinary police departments , are monitoring cell phones and conversations or location of one person , and typically , without any approval of any judge or official ( although recently , has been started to be challenged in courts ) .
    Lets cross to new York city itself : There are vans there , carrying x rays machines , monitoring so , people , movements , bodies , properties and so forth ….

    So , one may never know , what really is going on here in this regard , Trump may have referred to surveillance , yet , how , naturally , he can't know for sure , but expressed it so .

    With all due respect , the author of the post , had to show bit more concern for the idea , that Obama , or an official in his administration , has monitored somehow Trump , while the latter , was running for presidency , let alone , while Obama clearly and manifestly had expressed not once , not twice , his disgust , from the idea that Trump would become the president of the US , here some quotes from him , concerning his personality or incompetence , here :

    “unfit to serve as president – someone who can’t be trusted with his own Twitter account, let alone the nuclear launch codes.”

    And more :

    "uniquely unqualified".

    End of quotation :

    So, just to remind you, monitoring the cell phone of Angela Markel (The president of Germany) didn't need at the time, any official approval or whatsoever. Was it also for national security purposes ?? So , why not Trump , one may wonder ?? it is not so high , just to sigh ….

    Links :

    Obama on Trump :

    Verdict dealing with the stingray :

    In Wikipedia ( more simplified ) :

    Verdict dealing with information disclosure , concerning X rays monitoring in NY city ( a police vehicle known as the Z-backscatter van) here :

    Monitoring Angela Merkel , here :