Were the ‘unmasked’ Trump Tower wiretap recordings intentionally leaked?
In March of 2016, the leadership of Barack Obama’s Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation got slapped down massively hard by the DOJ’s Inspector General. A recently declassified report exposed that the FBI got caught handing top secret “raw information” over to private contractors, possibly related to President Donald Trump’s campaign.
When the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court saw the OIG report, they ordered all such improper disclosures to unknown outsiders cease immediately. “The Court is concerned about the FBI’s apparent disregard of minimization rules.”
The FBI found some loopholes and it was back to business as usual. The “unmasked” Trump Tower wiretap recordings were then leaked in even more abuse of the FISA process. The puzzle pieces are slowly coming together.
Crucial information is still redacted from the public versions of both reports but they seem to suggest that “the FBI may be engaging in similar disclosures of raw Section 702 information that have not been reported.”
Whatever caught the OIG’s attention in early 2016 was serious. Insiders called the OIG report “a rare rebuke.” According to the declassified report, “raw FISA information” was handed over to an outside contractor.
“Those working for the private entity were not supervised or under the direct control of the FBI.”
As things were starting to really heat up in the presidential campaign cycle, the DOJ’s internal watchdog sniffed something “troubling.” According to the OIG report, “the FBI had provided the communications of American citizens to private contractors.”
When officials at FISC saw what the OIG uncovered, they also started probing and released a report of their own. No longer top secret but still heavily redacted, the report “details multiple violations by the FBI of policies intended to safeguard communications of Americans.”
Publicly available documents confirm that “the FBI used counterintelligence tools to spy on the Trump campaign in 2016 and possibly as early as 2015,” using national security letters.
National security letters are sent out by the FBI to internet service providers, banks, and phone companies demanding “records on specific individuals.”
Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and the rest of congressional Republicans are still trying to find out exactly when the Trump investigation started and “what cause” the DOJ used to justify it.
Text messages exchanged between FBI investigator Peter Strzok and his lover, Lisa Page, who was FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s official DOJ attorney, prove that when the FISC report came out, the FBI just bobbed and weaved.
“We’ve switched from the Patriot Act to a wire carrying current.”
What the cryptic transmission was referring to is a switch in tactics. The FISA court made changes in the Patriot Act to prevent the abuses identified in the OIG report, making it harder to get warrants.
Instead of getting wiretap warrants under the Patriot Act, the DOJ simply started asking for them under grounds of the “wire carrying current” doctrine, allowing them to do as they pleased once again.
“Since they can no longer use the Patriot Act for legal intercepts, they’re instead tapping into this other form of intercepts,” FBI veteran Marc Ruskin explains.
Because they could no longer use “Section 702” they had to use the Christopher Steele dossier to back up their requests for warrants after April 18, 2016. Somehow, the information continued to leak.
The FBI blatantly lied to the court about the source of the data and its authenticity. They relied on it exclusively, even going so far as to leak information from it to the press so they could use the resulting article to “confirm” what the dossier said.
They never told the court who paid for it either.
“Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele’s efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior DOJ and FBI officials,” The memo declassified in February by Devin Nunes states.
After conning FISC out of a warrant to tap a low-level Trump campaign volunteer, Carter Page, the FBI took full advantage of their “two-hop rule.” The FISA warrant allowed them to spy on Page and anyone within two layers of him.
That means anyone Page talked to could also be tapped. Anyone at all that those people talked to could likewise be bugged.
Susan Rice, who was Obama’s national security advisor, testified in a closed-door hearing of house investigators “she unmasked the identities of senior Trump officials to understand why the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates was in New York.”
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan was there that December for a “transition period” meeting with General Michael Flynn, Jared Kushner, and strategist Steve Bannon.
The names were only supposed to be revealed “internally” but somehow managed to make their way into news stories.
We recently learned in February that Rice sent herself an email as President Trump was being sworn in. It summarized a high-level meeting in the oval office.
“The meeting also addressed the anti-Trump ‘dossier’” Then President Obama suggested his team “withhold information from the lawfully elected incoming administration for national security reasons.”
The information Obama wanted to be held back was about the “controversial surveillance practices they had used against Trump associates.”