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Policy Summary
On October 25, 2019 President Donald J. Trump was interviewed by author Doug Wead for an upcoming book on President Trump’s presidency thus far and repeated a 2017 claim that the Obama Administration had been caught spying on his 2016 campaign. The President made clear that it was at the direction of President Obama and that he felt that he “had my wires tapped” in Trump Tower. The story continues to appeal to conservative and right – leaning voters and even prompted Attorney General William Barr to state during testimony before a Congressional committee hearing that he believed spying against the Trump campaign did occur. Mr. Barr’s comments also included statements that indicated he was open to investigating the charges of spying if there are other remaining issues to be addressed. LEARN MORE

Analysis
President Trump’s continued assertion that President Obama spied on his 2016 campaign is simply false. What had occurred is a routine national security process, which President Trump is trying to twist into a scenario where he can lob accusations of treason against the former 44th President’s administration.

What had occurred is that U.S. intelligence agencies were monitoring calls and communications of foreign nationals as they are permitted to do under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). That statute permits secret intelligence courts to issue surveillance warrants against non – American citizens. Once the surveillance begins reports are written of the progress of the surveillance activities with the names of American citizens redacted if the activities of the foreign national surveillance target communicates or comes in contact with an American citizen. This safeguard procedure is implemented in order to prevent the government from spying on American citizens. However, a limited number of national security officials – including the National Security Advisor – are permitted to ask that the names of American citizens who have been redacted in a national security report be revealed in order to clarify the information in the report or understand the foreign intelligence value of the information. This is why a national security official would ask for American citizen names in a report to be revealed, or “unmasked.”

Prior to and during President Trump’s 2016 campaign and transition, properly issued surveillance warrants were issued and the United States was in the process of monitoring the calls and communications of Russian nationals. However, these foreign nationals soon made contact and communicated with Trump campaign and transition officials. National Security Advisor Susan Rice received the reports of the activities of the foreign nationals interacting with Trump campaign officials and, pursuant to law, requested that the names of Trump associates be revealed – unmasked – in order to get a fuller picture of what the foreign nationals were doing communicating with Trump associates. Susan Rice was authorized by law to do this in her position as National Security Advisor. What she was doing was simply following the activities of foreign citizens – Russian nationals – to determine if they were engaged in any sort of illegal activity. The fact that they ended up communicating with Trump campaign officials does not establish that the Obama Administration was spying on Trump officials. The only reason the American citizens from Trump’s campaign had their names revealed was because of communications they had with the foreign nationals. However, President Trump refuses to see and acknowledge this perfectly legal behavior even after it has been proven that the Obama Administration was not spying on his campaign. For him, it is just easier to try to accuse Ms. Rice and the Obama Administration in order to try and deflect from some of his own comments and activities, some of which raise questions about possible treasonous behavior in his own administration. LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE

Engagement Resources:

This brief was compiled by Rod Maggay. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief, please contact Rod@USResistnews.org.

Photo by unsplash-logoMarkus Spiske

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