By J. D. Heyes
(NationalSentinel) Intelligence: Whether it was done to provide the president with some political cover or had some nefarious purpose, FBI Director James Comey took the unusual step this morning of publicly confirming an investigation – into Trump campaign associates’ possible unsavory ties to Russia.
Per the Washington Post:
Comey … acknowledged the existence of a counterintelligence investigation into the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election, and said that probe extends to the nature of any links between Trump campaign associates and the Russian government.
That means the core element of President Donald J. Trump’s allegation two weeks ago that President Obama “wire tapped” him are true: There is an FBI (and likely U.S. intelligence) investigation into him and his campaign associates.
With that said, there are a couple of things to note regarding Comey’s testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence earlier in the day:
— He said his agency has “no information” that supports Trump’s tweets earlier this month accusing Obama of “wire tapping” him. But that’s not the same as saying, flat out, “Neither President Obama nor anyone else ever ordered surveillance on Trump Tower.”
— No less than The New York Times reported the day before Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration (timing!) that a) U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies were conducting probes into Trump’s associates, if not the president himself; b) and that “wiretapped” information had been obtained to that end. Well, the only way to legally obtain such electronic surveillance is via a FISA court-issued surveillance warrant.
— Comey did confirm the essence of Trump’s tweeted allegations – that indeed he and his associates have been under investigation. Okay, someone had to order it; who was it?
What Comey did not say and was not asked was whether or not former Obama Attorney General Loretta Lynch might have ordered electronic surveillance against Trump and/or Trump campaign associates, which former AG Michael Mukasey has noted is possible.
Also, Comey was not asked whether any such surveillance was ordered by Obama under provisions of “50 USC 1802: Electronic surveillance authorization without court order; certification by Attorney General; reports to Congressional committees; transmittal under seal; duties and compensation of communication common carrier; applications; jurisdiction of court.” The statute states plainly:
(a)(1) Notwithstanding any other law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year if the Attorney General certifies in writing under oath that-
(A) the electronic surveillance is solely directed at-
(i) the acquisition of the contents of communications transmitted by means of communications used exclusively between or among foreign powers, as defined in section 1801(a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title; or
(ii) the acquisition of technical intelligence, other than the spoken communications of individuals, from property or premises under the open and exclusive control of a foreign power, as defined in section 1801(a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title;
(B) there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party; and
(C) the proposed minimization procedures with respect to such surveillance meet the definition of minimization procedures under section 1801(h) of this title; and
if the Attorney General reports such minimization procedures and any changes thereto to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence at least thirty days prior to their effective date, unless the Attorney General determines immediate action is required and notifies the committees immediately of such minimization procedures and the reason for their becoming effective immediately.
What about the information regarding conversations between former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn that were leaked (illegally) to the media? Flynn may have been caught up in normal U.S. intelligence surveillance of Russia diplomats, which likely would not have been requested by Obama and authorized by Lynch – it would have been requested by a U.S. intelligence agency – the CIA or the NSA or both – and summarily authorized by the FISA court. But if there the case, how likely is it that Obama, Lynch and top intelligence officials would not have known?
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It needs to be said that Flynn should not have been “identified” publicly because he was a private citizen at the time and private American citizens are not subject to FISA surveillance – except when they are…but they have to be suspected of being a foreign agent. Does anyone seriously believe that the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (that would be Flynn) is a Russian dupe? Or any of Trump’s associates?
There is a lot that remains unsaid and unproven after Comey’s testimony today. We intend to keep at it until all stones are overturned, but suffice to say, as far as we’re concerned, Obama & Co. are not yet off the hook. Trump’s underlying accusation – that he was under surveillance – has just been confirmed by the FBI director, though, and that’s a first step to finding out who was ultimately behind ordering it.