Conservative watch group, Judicial Watch, recently filed requests with several intelligence agencies for information related to the wiretapping of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
Invoking the Freedom of Information Act, the conservative watch group is planning to sue the FBI, NSA, CIA and Treasury if they do not receive the records by the end of the week.
Michael Flynn’s resignation is amid a firestorm of leaked information regarding phone conversations with him and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Flynn resigned last week when it came out that before the inauguration, he had talked to the Russian ambassador about sanctions against Russia.
Flynn originally denied the claims, but another White House official came forth with information that improper conversations had occurred, and the FBI and other agencies had proof; a recorded phone conversation. According to the phone records, Flynn had told the Russian ambassador not to worry about Obama’s sanctions against Russia, sanctions that were imposed because of speculations regarding Russia’s role in the election.
Flynn reportedly told the ambassador that after the inauguration, things would be better between the two countries, and implied that the new administration would undo the damage the outgoing administration had done.
The very fact that he had the conversation and lied about it, put Flynn in a prime position for blackmail, considering the country’s leaders would have known about his indiscretion.
Flynn has subsequently resigned. It was a quick decision, one that Trump said he was going to wait to make. But Flynn beat him to the punch, explaining that the entire scandal was damaging and he would rather not put the new administration through it. He cited his indiscretion to Vice President Pence as the reason for his departure, not the contents of the call itself.
“Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the Vice President-Elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador,” he wrote in his resignation letter. “I have sincerely apologized to the President and the Vice President, and they have accepted my apology.”
CNN reported that Vice President Mike Pence responded in a news conference that he was “disappointed,” in Flynn.
“I was disappointed to learn that … the facts that had been conveyed to me by Gen. Flynn were inaccurate. But we honor Gen. Flynn’s long service to the United States of America, and I fully support the President’s decision to ask for his resignation.”
Now, a number of other candidates are being put forth to replace Flynn. Lt. Gen. Joseph K. Kellogg Jr. of the Army, a Vietnam War veteran, is currently acting in his place.
But Judicial Watch, the same agency involved in the Clinton e-mail scandal, wants to know why the phones were tapped, and who authorized it in the first place. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) says it is unlikely that a warrant to wiretap was ever in place.
“I’m pretty sure the FBI didn’t have a warrant on Michael Flynn,” Nunes told The Washington Post. “To listen to an American’s phone call you would have to go to a court, there’d be all that paperwork there. So I’m guessing that doesn’t exist.”
Judicial Watch believes the scandal goes much deeper than phone calls. George Farrell is the Director of Investigations and Research for the group, and a former Army counter-intelligence officer that teaches at George Mason University. He believes the it’s all an attempt to embarrass and discredit the Trump administration.
“That they’re conveying that information to reporters in order to embarrass or smear General Flynn or people in the Trump administration is treasonous,” he said. “It’s a crime … it’s a national security crime. The FBI should presently be hunting down the likely suspects.”
The Trump administration has had a rocky start with the intelligence community. Trump denied Russia’s involvement in the election, and criticized the intelligence community for suggesting it. Now, he’s made enemies out of spies—not an enviable position. Representative Devin Nunez, (R-CA), the Chairman for Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is leading the wiretapping investigation.
“So this is a state here that’s falling apart, and it’s totally unacceptable for anyone within government to be doing this,” Nunes told Fox News, a segment with Sean Hannity. “I think most of this is probably from people who were in the old administration, but there still could be some people that have burrowed in and are providing classified information to the media.”
The group has not officially filed in court. They are still waiting to see if the agencies in question will comply with the request. It may however, be just step one in a larger scandal, according to Nunes who is certain such a warrant never existed.
“I expect for the FBI to tell me what is going on, and they better have a good answer,” Nunes said Tuesday, according to the Washington Post. “The big problem I see here is that you have an American citizen who had his phone calls recorded.”
The end of the week could see another White House scandal if the intelligence agencies are not willing to comply.