A new report alleges that the FBI, under Obama, used their surveillance powers to monitor the Trump campaign. Of course, this isn’t the first time these spying allegations have surfaced
Last March, President Trump accused the former president of wiretapping Trump Tower during the 2016 election cycle.
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
On the face of it, that was a pretty hilarious tweet. Not for the phrase “wires tapped” but also the completely left-field allegation of McCarthyism. In Trump’s defense, he’s never given us a reason to believe he actually knows what that term means.
Even if you had forgotten about Trump’s laughable commentary on the matter… you probably remember Kellyanne Conways public service announcement about microwaves being used for surveillance.
So now we have this fresh “spying” allegation and, of course, Trump had to TWEET ABOUT IT IN ALL CAPS, BECAUSE THAT’S WHERE WE ARE NOW.
Wow, word seems to be coming out that the Obama FBI “SPIED ON THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN WITH AN EMBEDDED INFORMANT.” Andrew McCarthy says, “There’s probably no doubt that they had at least one confidential informant in the campaign.” If so, this is bigger than Watergate!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 17, 2018
What’s curious is that in the intervening year, nobody has explained to Donald Trump exactly how difficult it is to get a FISA warrant. That this continues to be framed as an Obama issue illustrates just that.
The fourth amendment protects citizens from electronic surveillance to such an extent that the FBI must appeal to a secret court and prove just cause for criminal activity to obtain one.
The exception? Per JustSecurity:
The standard for electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes, though, is a little lower. This is because when it comes to national security, as opposed to criminal prosecutions, our Fourth Amendment rights are balanced against the government’s interest in protecting the country. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) allows the FBI to get a warrant from a secret court, known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), to conduct electronic surveillance on U.S. persons if they can show probable cause that the target is an “agent of a foreign power” who is “knowingly engag[ing]…in clandestine intelligence activities.” In other words, the government has to show that the target might be spying for a foreign government or organization.
So would Donald Trump prefer that the American people believe that his campaign met the high criteria for a standard FISA warrant, or the slightly lower criteria for a FISA warrant reserved for the likes of an alleged “agent of a foreign power”?
I daresay something during his tenure will prove to be “bigger than Watergate” — but surveillance of his campaign would not qualify.