Angry Tweeter Expression
The Original Post follows this short update: I think this very important – hope you agree:
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) demanded in a statement on Saturday (March 4, 2017) that President Trump further explain his allegations (listed in 4 tweets below) that former President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the election campaign, saying in part: “The President today made some very serious allegations, and the informed citizens that a republic requires deserve more information.” He then continued with this startling statement: “We are in the midst of a civilization-warping crisis of public trust, and the President's allegations today demand the thorough and dispassionate attention of serious patriots. A quest for the full truth, rather than knee-jerk partisanship, must be our guide if we are going to rebuild civic trust and health.”
(I totally agree with Sen. Sasse and say “good for him for his stance.”)
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE)
Trump had fired off a series of early morning tweets (again listed below) alleging without evidence that Mr. Obama had tapped his phones in Trump Tower during the election campaign and he then called Obama “sick” while comparing him to former Richard Nixon and former disgraced Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-MN).
A spokesman for Mr. Obama said later that same day that any allegations that Mr. Obama had ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen was “[…] simply false.”
(I tend to agree with that, too… it is up to Mr. Trump to convince the public otherwise with positive proof and evidence and NOT more unfounded allegations. This is very, very serious indeed).ORIGINAL POST STARTS HERE:
Background on recent flow of Trump tweets and his latest accusing Mr. Obama of wiretapping him and Trump Tower … the main sources are: (1) A Breitbart article about (2) a recent Mark Levin radio Talk Show rant (both pieces are here).
Now some truth to facts: Current and former intelligence officials cast doubt on Trump's assertions, for example one expert said: “It seems unthinkable. If that were the case by some chance, that means that a federal judge would have found that there was either probable cause that he had committed a crime or was an agent of a foreign power.”
Key Point: A wiretap cannot be directed at any U.S. facility without finding probable cause that the phone lines or Internet addresses were being used by agents of a foreign power — or by someone spying for or acting on behalf of a foreign government.
Now the Story and String of Trump Tweets: All sent from his Palm Beach, FL private Mar-a-Lago estate. It has long been his practice to stir up new controversies to deflect attention from a damaging news cycle – it seems this is the Sessions-Russian Ambassador cycle.
Here are Trump's tweets, in the order they were sent on this subject:
• Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
• Is it legal for a sitting President to be “wire tapping” a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
• 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
• How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
Now a series of legal facts from LawNewz to counter the wacky Trump (blame Obama) wiretap allegations:
The best that we can tell, Trump is referring to a Breitbart article (cited above) which was published that makes reference to attempts by U.S. intelligence agencies to obtain a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) to monitor communications involving Donald Trump and several advisers.
The interesting aspect that this is not a new development. Several other outlets including Mother Jones, The Guardian, The National Review, and Heat Street have been reporting on this alleged activity over the last couple of months.
Here is the best summary we could find of the Obama administration’s efforts to wiretap Trump associates extracted from the January 11, 2017 Guardian article:
“The Guardian has learned that the FBI applied for a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) over the summer in order to monitor four members of the Trump team suspected of irregular contacts with Russian officials. The FISA court turned down the application asking FBI counter-intelligence investigators to narrow its focus. According to one report, the FBI was finally granted a warrant in October, but that has not been confirmed, and it is not clear whether any warrant led to a full investigation.”
Trump then questioned all that by asking if it were legal as he makes analogies to Nixon-Watergate. So is it legal?
While the analogies to Watergate are totally misplaced (as that involved an illegal break-in), the underlying questions about the legality of these wiretaps are indeed important ones. However, so far, there is no indication that the Obama administration acted “illegally” if they did indeed intercept communications from Trump Tower.
“The problem with President Trump’s question is that the standards for FISA are so low and easily satisfied (with little judicial review) that it is difficult to establish any illegality under the law,” writes George Washington Law Professor Jonathan Turley.
Background: “The FISA procedures were put in place in the aftermath of the Nixon-era scandals. To obtain a FISA warrant, the government needs to demonstrate probable cause that the ‘target of the surveillance is a foreign power or agent of a foreign power.’ On top of that, government agents must prove that the main purpose of the surveillance is to obtain ‘foreign intelligence information’.”
“It is true that, if the target is a U.S. person there must be probable cause to believe that the person’s activities may involve espionage or other similar conduct in violation of the criminal statutes of the United States. However, citizens can be collateral to the primary target under FISA,” Turley explained.
So bottom line: If the Obama administration intelligence agents followed the proper protocols, had evidence, got approved by DOJ, presented to a FISA judge, and that was approved, it is likely that any wiretapping was legal under U.S. law.
“Putting aside that there is no indication Trump himself was the target of the FISA warrant (it appears to have been aimed at only four of his associates), yes, it CAN be legally done,” says Bradley Moss, an attorney and national security expert explained to LawNewz.com.
So, would President Obama have to sign off on this FISA warrant as Trump implies? No, not necessarily.
Under the law, the warrant application needs to be signed off by the Attorney General. So based on the timing of these applications and if the reports are true, it is likely that former AG Loretta Lynch knew about them and approved them.
“The President (Obama in this case) can technically request the warrant but it still has to go through the process. Obama couldn’t authorize it on his own. The AG still has to sign off and the FISA judge still has to authorize the warrant,” Moss explained.
Trump is right that if the warrant involved four of his aides, some of his communications may have been intercepted too, and perhaps what happened warrants further investigation. For example, “If somehow several people in DOJ all got together and were asked to fabricate evidence to present to the FISA judge that would be illegal. But so far that is not what we are hearing happened,” Moss explained.
Turley further added: “There are provisions stating that a U. S. person cannot be surveilled solely upon the basis of activities protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Thus, if Trump aides were targeted for political reasons, the surveillance would be unlawful even under the dubious protections of FISA.”
This matter probably deserves further investigation, however, at this point, there is no indication of anything illegal.
Based on these latest (unproven) and alarming tweet allegations, it seems to me, and for many others, that each passing day shows us that Donald J. Trump is not mentally fit to be president. How that can be proven and adjudicated legally is the most-critical and quite frankly pressing problem the country faces right now. This president and his apparently unbalanced mental performance in office is both alarming and dangerous.
Also, consider this other related article – same subject that is timely re: The impact of Trump tweets. The contents may be the most-important right now, but time will tell.Finally, added at the last moment on this same subject, but with a different twist: Could Obama be guilty and prosecuted about all this? A reasonable argument is seen here with one possible answer to that question:
“Yes, Obama could be prosecuted if involved with illegal surveillance.”
For sure, stay tuned - this is apt to get very ugly very fast.