President Trump has “accused” Obama of having wiretapped his telephones and data connections at Trump Tower during the 2016 election cycle. The President’s allegation, made as it was through Twitter, lit the internet on proverbial fire. The Lamestream Enemedia wasted no time is deriding the President’s claim and Obama’s spokesman, Kevin Lewis quickly fired back with a denial of any wrongdoing on the ex-President’s part.
Of course, these denials are almost Clintonian is their use of facts that don’t necessarily – depending on what words and terms mean – lead to the truth.
The facts of the matter are that the FBI did twice seek to gain Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) court warrants to wiretap Trump’s communications and those of several of his advisers. The first attempt in June, 2016 was denied. The second, narrower request, now focused on a server in Trump Tower, in October, 2016 was granted.
So during the 2016 elections the FBI did conduct surveillance of Trump’s assets in Trump Towers, i.e., they did wiretap him, though this may have been limited to electronic communications and did not included telephony, which i what most of people still think of when wiretapping is brought up.Â So, for the purposes of the truth and culpability, it comes down to the Clintonian question of what words and phrases mean, a particularly form of verbal tap-dancing that Obama has always been quite skilled at.
The FBI is ultimately under the authority of US Attorney General, during the time frame in question an Obama Appointee. So whether or not the wiretapping was done by the Obama Administration comes down to where you draw the line around the term “Obama Administration” and from whom exactly the order ultimately came from.
As to whether or not Obama “had” Trump’s assets tapped, that is a matter of great and fruitless conjecture. Obviously, Obama didn’t formally order the surveillance operation. No POTUS can formally and legally order such surveillance except in very limited circumstances that didn’t apply in this case. That, however, doesn’t address an informal, verbal order, suggestion, or spoken lament – Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest? – that Obama might have made to AG Loretta Lynch.
Then, we come to “had” vs. “known of” and “approved.” Personally, I find it hard, though not impossible, to lend credence to the idea that the FBI would undertake such a very, very sensitive operation – as proven from the fallout thereof – without walking it up the chain of command to get at least verbal approval for it. Hence, it seems very unlikely to me that Obama wasn’t both apprised of the planned investigation of the opposing party’s presidential candidate and given the chance to quash it before it started.