LEGAL EXPERT: TROUBLE LOOMS for Obama Administration Over Wiretaps
For those of you who questioned the tweets of Trump, I think you’ve received your answer.
From the moment President Trump tweeted about discovering Obama wiretaps, the social media world erupted. Many thought the president tweeted on a sleep-deprived binge, when in fact he simply exposed the truth…again.
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
Trending: Smollett Demands Chicago Pay Up
The discovery of these wiretaps, and the crooked methodology by which the Obama administration authorized them proves many points. For example, remember the outcome of the IRS targeted of Conservatives, where the Obama administration found no crime? Of course there was a crime.
Yet again, Obama weaponized the Justice Department to go after then candidate Trump; just as he had done to Conservatives, whom he deemed the enemy.
Obama and Democrats knew the Russian story was a hoax.
This red herring proved to be false, as they discovered nothing with the wiretaps. Yet with evidence of Trump’s innocence, the Left to this day continue their “fake news” narrative, that attempts to tie Trump to the Russians.
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
According to Law News, the Obama wiretaps were legal…sort of.
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. So far, there is no indication that the Obama administration acted “illegally” if they did indeed intercept communications from Trump Tower.
“The problem with the President’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,” wrote George Washington Law Professor Jonathan Turley.
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, the 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 U.S. 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 Main Justice, and presented their application to a FISA judge, and were approved, it is likely that any wiretapping was legal under U.S. law.
“Well, putting aside there is no indication Trump himself was the target of the FISA warrant (it appears to have been aimed at four of his associates), yes, it CAN be legally done,” Bradley Moss, an attorney and national security expert explained to LawNewz.com.
But now we get the crux of the matter.
From Law News, we learn that Obama wouldn’t necessarily have to sign off on the FISA warrant. However under the law, the warrant application needs to be signed off by the Attorney General. Based on the timing of these applications, it is likely that Loretta Lynch knew about them and approved them.
“The President 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.
“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,” Moss explained. “But so far that is not what we are hearing happened.”
“So far” are the key words.
Turley further adds, “There is 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.”
The summary is that though the Obama administration may not have done anything illegal, they certainly approached the line. The fishing expedition will like end up in a full-scale investigation by a Justice Department. However, President Trump’s Justice Department has much more credibility than the Gestapo version Obama ran.