Investigate Obamagate

Obamagate is here.

And Mark Levin is on the case. First on his Thursday radio show and then in his appearance on Fox and Friends over the weekend, Mark laid out in chapter and verse the mainstream media’s own reporting that the Obama administration was responsible for using government agencies to spy on its political opponents — namely Donald Trump, his aides, and then-U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions, now the Attorney General of the United States.

Said the former chief of staff to U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese III:

This is not about President Trump’s tweeting; this is about the Obama administration spying.… The issue isn’t whether the Obama administration spied on the Trump campaign or transition of surrogates; the issue is the extent of it…. Donald Trump is the victim. His campaign is the victim. His transition team is the victim. His surrogates are the victim.

To the question of whether former President Obama was involved? After noting that there were repeated stories on the government’s spying of Trump and others in the New York Times and the Washington Post — newspapers unquestionably well-read by the Obama White House — the talk radio host added: “I will tell you this, he’s more involved than he says; it’s his executive branch.”

Bingo.

Is this another Watergate? Here’s the History Channel’s description of the original Watergate scandal that eventually forced the resignation of President Richard Nixon, bold print supplied:

Early in the morning of June 17, 1972, several burglars were arrested inside the office of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), located in the Watergate building in Washington, D.C. This was no ordinary robbery: The prowlers were connected to President Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign, and they had been caught while attempting to wiretap phones and steal secret documents. While historians are not sure whether Nixon knew about the Watergate espionage operation before it happened, he took steps to cover it up afterwards, raising “hush money” for the burglars, trying to stop the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) from investigating the crime, destroying evidence and firing uncooperative staff members.

Note well: Watergate began with an attempt to wiretap phones — which is to say spy on the target, in this case the Democratic National Committee and its then-chairman, ex-JFK and LBJ aide Lawrence O’Brien.

On his radio show and in his Fox appearance, Mark Levin lays out eight specific examples of reporting by no less than the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian, the McClatchy news service, and Heat Street, the libertarian website. Of all these sources cited, only Heat Street would be considered a “right-wing” site, as it is libertarian-oriented. The rest, every one, are part of the left-leaning “mainstream” media in the United States and, in the case of the Guardian, the United Kingdom.

So, again, for the record, let’s look at the stories Mark Levin has found that emphatically bolster President Trump’s belief that the Obama Administration was spying on him.

1. Heat Street on November 7, 2017:

EXCLUSIVE: FBI ‘Granted FISA Warrant’ Covering Trump Camp’s Ties to Russia

Two separate sources with links to the counter-intelligence community have confirmed to Heat Street that the FBI sought, and was granted, a FISA court warrant in October, giving counter-intelligence permission to examine the activities of “U.S. persons” in Donald Trump’s campaign with ties to Russia.

2. The Guardian on January 11, 2017:

The Guardian has learned that the FBI applied for a warrant from the foreign intelligence surveillance (Fisa) court over the summer in order to monitor four members of the Trump team suspected of irregular contacts with Russian officials. The Fisa court turned down the application asking FBI counter-intelligence investigators to narrow its focus. According to one report, the FBI was finally granted a warrant in October, but that has not been confirmed, and it is not clear whether any warrant led to a full investigation.

 3. McClatchy on January 18, 2017

FBI, 5 other agencies probe possible covert Kremlin aid to Trump

WASHINGTON — The FBI and five other law enforcement and intelligence agencies have collaborated for months in an investigation into Russian attempts to influence the November election, including whether money from the Kremlin covertly aided President-elect Donald Trump, two people familiar with the matter said.

The agencies involved in the inquiry are the FBI, the CIA, the National Security Agency, the Justice Department, the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and representatives of the director of national intelligence, the sources said.

4. The New York Times on January 19, 2017:

Intercepted Russian Communications Part of Inquiry Into Trump Associates

WASHINGTON — American law enforcement and intelligence agencies are examining intercepted communications and financial transactions as part of a broad investigation into possible links between Russian officials and associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump….

The F.B.I. is leading the investigations, aided by the National Security Agency, the C.I.A. and the Treasury Department’s financial crimes unit. The investigators have accelerated their efforts in recent weeks but have found no conclusive evidence of wrongdoing, the officials said. One official said intelligence reports based on some of the wiretapped communications had been provided to the White House.

5. The New York Times, January 12, 2017:

N.S.A. Gets More Latitude to Share Intercepted Communications

WASHINGTON — In its final days, the Obama administration has expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.

The new rules significantly relax longstanding limits on what the N.S.A. may do with the information gathered by its most powerful surveillance operations, which are largely unregulated by American wiretapping laws. These include collecting satellite transmissions, phone calls and emails that cross network switches abroad, and messages between people abroad that cross domestic network switches.

6. The New York Times, March 1, 2017:

Obama Administration Rushed to Preserve Intelligence of Russian Election Hacking

WASHINGTON — In the Obama administration’s last days, some White House officials scrambled to spread information about Russian efforts to undermine the presidential election — and about possible contacts between associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump and Russians — across the government. Former American officials say they had two aims: to ensure that such meddling isn’t duplicated in future American or European elections, and to leave a clear trail of intelligence for government investigators.…

As WikiLeaks was pushing out emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee through online publication, American intelligence began picking up conversations in which Russian officials were discussing contacts with Trump associates, and European allies were starting to pass along information about people close to Mr. Trump meeting with Russians in the Netherlands, Britain and other countries.

7. The New York Times, February 9, 2017:

Flynn Is Said to Have Talked to Russians About Sanctions Before Trump Took Office

WASHINGTON — Weeks before President Trump’s inauguration, his national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, discussed American sanctions against Russia, as well as areas of possible cooperation, with that country’s ambassador to the United States, according to current and former American officials.…

But current and former American officials said that conversation — which took place the day before the Obama administration imposed sanctions on Russia over accusations that it used cyberattacks to help sway the election in Mr. Trump’s favor — ranged far beyond the logistics of a post-inauguration phone call. And they said it was only one in a series of contacts between the two men that began before the election and also included talk of cooperating in the fight against the Islamic State, along with other issues.

8. The Washington Post, March 2, 2017

… The Wall Street Journal, following The Post’s report, added that “U.S. investigators have examined contacts… Sessions had with Russian officials during the time he was advising” Trump’s campaign. “The outcome of the inquiry, and whether it is ongoing, wasn’t clear,” per Carol E. Lee, Christopher S. Stewart, Rob Barry and Shane Harris. “The contacts were being examined as part of a wide-ranging U.S. counterintelligence investigation into possible communications between members of Mr. Trump’s campaign team and Russian operatives.”

And then there’s this.

The New York Times, January 20, 2017:

Headline:

Wiretapped Data Used in Inquiry of Trump Aides

In this story the Times reports that “… wiretapped communications had been provided to the (Obama) White House.”

But barely a month later the Times headlines this:

Trump, Offering No Evidence, Says Obama Tapped His Phones

And the kicker here? Times reporter Michael Schmidt co-wrote both stories. The first on January 20th headlining “Wiretapped Data Used in Inquiry of Trump Aides” — and the March story saying: “Trump, Offering No Evidence, Says Obama Tapped His Phones.”

Oops.

Last but not least there is this interview with former Bush 43 Attorney General Michael Mukasey over on ABC, with the questioning by Martha Raddatz. Here is part of the transcript as supplied by ABC:

MICHAEL MUKASEY, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, I don’t do tweets.

RADDATZ: You heard about them.

MUKASEY: Yeah, I hear about them, but I don’t do tweets and for good reason. It’s not the’ ideal medium in which to get an idea across.

This is the difference between being correct and being right. I think the president was not correct certainly in saying that President Obama ordered a tap on a server in Trump Tower. However, I think he’s right in that there was surveillance and that it was conducted at the behest of the attorney — of the Justice Department through the FISA court.

RADDATZ: And what do you base that on?

MUKASEY: I base that on news reports that you mentioned in the last spot. I also base it on kind of inadvertent blurting out by (Democratic Congressman from Washington) Adam Schiff that his committee wants to talk to the counterintelligence agents at the FBI who were involved in this. Now, what that means is this is part not of a criminal investigation, but of an intelligence gathering investigation.

The FBI has got two functions. They investigate crimes and they gather intelligence. They started gathering intelligence in ’08 based on guidelines that we put in place.

They tried to get — apparently tried to get a wiretap based on their criminal investigation function in June. That was turned down. They then tried to get, and got, an order permitting them to conduct electronic surveillance in October. This is October of 2016.

So that’s when, apparently, that’s when…

RADDATZ: And again you’re basing this on news reports as well.

MUKASEY: And on, and on, Adam Schiff.

RADDATZ: And on Adam Schiff. If a wiretap did exist, it would have to have been approved by a FISA court based on real evidence. So, if there was a wiretap, does that mean there were suspicious things going on between the Trump administration and the Russians?

MUKASEY: It means there were some basis to believe that somebody in Trump Tower may have been acting as an agent of the Russians, for whatever purpose, not necessarily the election, but for some purpose.

And the FBI keeps track of people who act as agents of foreign governments. They keep track of people who act as agents of the Chinese, the Russians, the Israelis, everybody.

RADDATZ: Some of the evidence may have been gleaned from classified means. Is there any way to verify these claims in the press or Trump’s claims so the American people can really understand what’s going on here?

MUKASEY: The only way to verify, whether there was a — whether there was electronic surveillance is to disclose the warrant and to disclose the fruits of it. And that should not be done even in a political storm as hot as this one.

Over at National Review, the redoubtable Andrew C. McCarthy, who has been following all of this since January with his keen legal eye (as here and here), has in his latest headlined the obvious:

While You Weren’t Looking, the Democrat-Media Election-Hacking Narrative Just Collapsed

Writes Andy (bold print supplied by me):

That supposed FBI investigation of collusion with the Russians? Never mind… They’re in retreat now.

You may have missed it amid President Trump’s startling Saturday tweet storm, the recriminations over president-on-candidate spying, and the Jeff Sessions recusal — a whirlwind weekend. But while you weren’t looking, an elaborate narrative died.…

But still, the media and Democrats have always had a serious vulnerability here — one they’ve never acknowledged because they’ve been too swept away by the political success of the fantasy narrative. It is this: At a certain point, if compelling evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to steal the election did not materialize, the much more interesting question becomes “How did the government obtain all this information that has been leaked to the media to prop up the story?” 

The most plausible answer to that question: The Obama administration, through the Justice Department and the FBI, was investigating the associates of the opposition party’s presidential nominee, and perhaps even the nominee himself, during the campaign. Otherwise, what explanation can there be for all of the investigative information — much of it classified, and thus illegal to disclose — that has been funneled to the press?

In other words? In other words, the repeated stories in the liberal outlets the New York Times and the Washington Post — have now effectively hoist the liberal media on their own petard. Liberals wanted an investigation — and now they are being joined by conservatives. And yes indeed, via press secretary Sean Spicer, President Trump is now calling for an investigation “to determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016.” Now that we all agree, let’s start digging.

In 1974 the House of Representatives was preparing to pass articles of impeachment for Richard Nixon. Nixon, back against the wall, was never impeached because he resigned before the process could get any further. Recall Article One, bold print supplied:

On June 17, 1972, and prior thereto, agents of the Committee for the Re-election of the President committed unlawful entry of the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in Washington, District of Columbia, for the purpose of securing political intelligence.

Which is to say Nixon was being held responsible for the Watergate break-in, something it was never proven — to this day — that he knew of much less authorized. Be that as it may, it was his campaign committee who sent those “Watergate burglars” into the DNC offices in the dead of night to tap the DNC phones. Everything that transpired afterwards came from that unalterable fact.

What we have here is no “conspiracy theory.” This is an administration that investigated the emails of Fox journalist James Rosen. This is the administration that employed Lois Lerner and all of that abuse at the IRS. What we have here this time — as repeatedly reported by the Times and the Post — is an admission that, to quote McCarthy again, “The Obama administration, through the Justice Department and the FBI, was investigating the associates of the opposition party’s presidential nominee, and perhaps even the nominee himself, during the campaign.”

Exactly right. In other words? Collectively? This is a really, really big deal.

Obamagate is here. And it is not going away. By all means, bring on the grand juries and the congressional investigations. ASAP.

Jeffrey Lord
Jeffrey Lord
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 Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Jack Kemp and Ronald Reagan. An author and CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com and @JeffJlpa1. His new book, What America Needs: The Case for Trump, is now out from Regnery Publishing.
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