Enough with the smokescreens! Democrats, aided and abetted by their friends in the media, have long dismissed President Trump’s charges that he was “wiretapped” by former President Obama, even as evidence mounts that indeed surveillance of the Trump camp took place, and that information collected by so-called “incidental” monitoring was illegally leaked to the public.
The left would rather focus on speculation that the Trump campaign colluded with Russian agents to undermine Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, even though to date there has been zero evidence to support any such charge.
On Monday, in a revelation that Senator Rand Paul describes as a “smoking gun,” numerous sources outed former Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice as behind the “unmasking” of Trump associates picked up through surveillance of foreign nationals.
While Rice had legal access to the electronic eavesdropping, and though her exposure of the identities of the individuals involved might be excused under certain circumstances, it is clear she has lied about her involvement and also about what took place in the Obama White House.
Under the harshest interpretation, it appears that Rice, possibly at the behest of President Obama, collected and distributed classified information about Trump and his associates with the sole purpose of politically damaging the incoming president.
If that is true, President Obama and one of his closest advisers committed a massive breach of trust with the American people; they have also confirmed that their White House was the most politicized in our history.
The story begins with a group within the National Security Council, headed by the senior director of intelligence, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, undertaking a review of the government’s policy on “unmasking.” Presumably they were intent on finding out who discovered, and then illegally leaked, the contents of phone calls between former Security Council chief Mike Flynn and the Russian ambassador, which ultimately led to Flynn’s ouster.
According to journalist Mike Cernovich, who broke the story, “The White House Counsel’s office identified Rice as the person responsible for the unmasking after examining Rice’s document log requests. The reports Rice requested to see are kept under tightly-controlled conditions. Each person must log her name before being granted access to them.”
The logs led National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster to conclude that Rice had been responsible for uncovering the identities of individuals who were picked up in “incidental” surveillance of foreign nationals. Usually, such persons are reported anonymously to protect their privacy. No one has yet accused Rice of leaking the information that she collected.
McMaster sent an aide, Derek Harvey, to convey that information to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes. The Intelligence Committee chief was widely criticized for going alone to the White House to examine computers which contain the logs, and for meeting with the president afterwards.
Now the ranking minority member on the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff, has also seen the data.
It is telling that after visiting the White House himself and reviewing the information, Rep. Schiff refused to discuss the contents of the documents, but rather focused on the process by which they had come to light. He managed that sleight of hand while chiding President Trump for trying to divert attention away from the Russia probe. Neat.
It is noteworthy that in an interview with PBS “News Hour” anchor Judy Woodruff on March 22, Rice denied Trump’s charges of wiretapping, saying “nothing of the sort occurred.” Rice can argue that Trump’s tweet: “just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” may not be exactly accurate, but Rice’s denial is not truthful either.
That won’t shock us. Many Americans will remember that Rice was the White House point person on Benghazi, telling Americans on the Sunday morning talk shows that the assault on the U.S. compound was a spontaneous outburst caused by an anti-Muslim video.
She knew better, as did the White House.
They knew the attack, which cost the lives of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, was carefully planned and executed – a horrible jihadi assault that contradicted Obama’s narrative of winning the war on terror.
The surveillance that apparently caught up Trump campaign workers and aides, including Michael Flynn, is said to have been legal. Foreign individuals who were wiretapped or otherwise spied on were apparently targeted by U.S. intelligence; some of the information was then handed over to the FBI. Reviewing the reporting on Flynn’s conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak – which got him fired – it is remarkable how little interest was shown by the New York Times and other news organizations in how the sensitive material was collected and distributed. Now those questions appear more pertinent.
It is possible that the surveillance of Trump’s people was not entirely “incidental.” If someone wanted to track Jared Kushner, for instance, who was known to be in communication with Cui Tiankai, the Chinese ambassador to the U.S., intel groups could decide to surveil the latter, and pick up the desired information about Kushner simultaneously. There is no indication that such methods were used to spy on the Trump team, but remember that Nunes said the information he viewed at the White House had nothing to do with Russia. So the surveillance was presumably not an attempt to unearth collusion between the Trump team and Moscow. Also, the logs indicate intelligence gathering on persons associated with Trump that stretch back a year or more. One wonders about the purpose.
There are reports that Rice shared the “unmasked” reports with numerous intelligence organizations. Towards the end of the Obama presidency, the White House loosened the rules on who could receive “raw” intelligence reports. Those changes made it easier to more broadly disseminate materials thought injurious to the incoming president.
These are early days yet in the investigation into the Obama White House’s possible spying on the Trump team. Much remains unknown, including who directed the effort. Was President Obama involved? Did former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lie when he denied that any wiretapping took place against Trump or his associates? Did FBI Director James Comey lie as well?
It is infuriating to see Democrats and the liberal media doing backflips to direct the focus elsewhere – and especially back to possible collusion between members of the Trump camp and Russia.
To those who would allege that Trump was in cahoots with Putin, I offer this: General James Mattis aka Russia’s worst nightmare. For those not paying attention, President Trump tapped Mattis to be his Secretary of Defense. Does that really jive with a White House eager to cozy up to Putin?
All Americans deserve the truth in both these inquiries. We need to know whether the Trump camp conspired with Russian agents to hack the DNC and John Podesta’s emails, and we need to know whether the Obama White House gathered and leaked surveillance information on Trump or his aides illegally in order to discredit him. Let us hope that our Congressional Committees are up to the task, because it is clear the liberal media is content to investigate only one of these stories.