By Jon Dougherty
POTUS Donald Trump told Clinton ‘war room’ hack and current ABC News host George Stephanopoulos over the weekend that he believes President Obama “must have known” about the “Spygate” scandal to depose him.
In addition, Trump dropped another huge bread crumb, hinting that in the days and weeks ahead, the country will find out for certain whether Obama was indeed written in on the scandal and whether he actually pulled the strings.
“There was no crime. There was no collusion. The big thing’s collusion. Now, there’s no collusion,” Trump told Stephanopoulos in an interview that aired Sunday.
“That means they set — it was a setup, in my opinion, and I think it’s gonna come out,” Trump noted further, citing a text between FBI lovers Peter Strzok and Lisa Page regarding their “insurance policy.”
In addition, the two exchanged messages indicating that Obama was directly being kept in the loop.
In a Sept. 2, 2016, text to Strzok about preparing talking points for then-FBI Director James Comey to give to President Obama, Page said it was important to do so because “potus wants to know everything we’re doing.”
And earlier, we reported that Obama would also have been kept in the loop by his attorney general, Loretta Lynch — who was a lot more loyal to him that Jeff Sessions had been to POTUS Trump.
As ABC News noted in February 2018:
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, commonly referred to as the “FISA Court,” is a secret tribunal with legal authority to grant (or deny) warrants for electronic surveillance against would-be spies or terrorists.
The court — made up of 11 federal judges, serving 7-year terms and selected by the chief justice of the Supreme Court — meets in private, sometimes in the middle of the night. FISA targets are highly classified.
More than a thousand applications for electronic surveillance, all signed by the attorney general, are submitted each year, and the vast majority are approved.
Stephanopoulos asked POTUS Trump outright if he thought Obama was involved in Spygate.
“I would say that he certainly must have known about it because it went very high up in the chain but you’re gonna find that out. I’m not gonna make that statement quite yet, but I would say President Obama had to know about it.”
Let’s also recall that just a few weeks before President-elect Trump’s inauguration in January of 2017, Obama, Joe Biden, Susan Rice, James Comey, and James Clapper all met in the Oval Office and discussed the phony Steele dossier.
Changes made to the original Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 — via the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (and renewed in December 2012) give presidents and the intelligence community much more latitude when it comes to surveillance of “foreign” persons.
As explained by Yale Law professor Jack Balkin in 2009:
The FISA Amendments Act of 2008, effectively gives the President – now President Obama – the authority to run surveillance programs similar in effect to the warrantless surveillance program [secretly implemented by George Bush in late 2001]. That is because New FISA no longer requires individualized targets in all surveillance programs. Some programs may be ‘vacuum cleaner’ programs that listen to a great many different calls (and read a great many e-mails) without any requirement of a warrant directed at a particular person as long as no US person is directly targeted as the object of the program.
Also, since the spying against Team Trump was set up as a counterintelligence operation, Obama would have been updated regularly via the President’s Daily Intelligence Brief.
As the Brookings Institute noted in a policy paper arguing for the Trump administration to renew legislation reauthorizing Section 702 of the FISA Act, which clarifies warrant requirements of the Act, information gathered via FISA warrants “sometimes known as PRISM, comprises a large part of the President’s Daily Brief.”
The paper also noted this important distinction:
We often think about 702 as an NSA authority, but it is also to a significant degree an FBI authority. Thus, the person and the integrity of the FBI director is critically important to the integrity of the program.
The question about whether Obama did or did not know about all of this has been answered — on more than one occasion. And the answer is a resounding yes.
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10