President Donald Trump surprised aides Saturday morning with an early tweetstorm accusing his predecessor of conducting surveillance against him during the presidential campaign.
How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
One former policy advisor for President Obama quickly pointed out that the president doesn’t have authority to order a wiretap. While it is possible that Trump’s communications were intercepted by American intelligence agencies, that would also suggest that a FISA court granted a surveillance warrant after finding probable cause that members of the Trump campaign team communicated inappropriately with Russia. And that could bring an avalanche of pressure onto the sitting president.
If Trump is correct about wiretaps, signals big trouble for him–a FISA warrant, federal judge finding probable cause for surveillance.
— Ruth Marcus (@RuthMarcus) March 4, 2017
If the FBI felt Trump’s campaign warranted wiretaps and a federal judge signed off on surveillance, then it could mean there was noteworthy communication between Trump’s team and influential Russian officials.
In January, the Guardian reported that the FBI had submitted a formal application to the FISA court for the surveillance of four Trump campaign officials, but that the application was rejected because it was too broad. A second, more narrow application was submitted and, according to at least one report, was granted.
If that’s the case, then it provides some of the most compelling evidence yet that the intelligence community believes there was direct communication between the Trump campaign and allies in Russia. Democratic lawmakers and conservatives are calling for the release of any evidence that might have provided the basis for a FISA warrant.
IF law enforcement sought 2 surveil, FISA court found sufficient evidence of likely criminality related 2 a foreign power 2 grant warrant. https://t.co/J2doKz2wgG
— (((Rep. Nadler))) (@RepJerryNadler) March 4, 2017
Given the president’s severe accusations this AM, aren’t all Americans entitled to see the evidence on which the FISA court acted?
— David Frum (@davidfrum) March 4, 2017
A day earlier, Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) told MSBNC he believes the FBI is in possession of transcripts which might detail communication between top Trump campaign members and Russian officials. The transcripts, which Coons said he hasn’t seen, could reveal if the Kremlin and Trump’s team colluded to influence the 2016 election.
Trump is known for surprising aides with early morning tweetstorms. His latest rant also caught his staff off guard, according to Washington Posts’ Robert Costa.
The 2nd official tells me the expectation for Saturday was a "down day, pretty quiet." No planning for wire-tapping allegation.
— Robert Costa (@costareports) March 4, 2017