Spying, What Spying?

Supposedly Attorney General Barr dropped a bombshell when he told Congress that there was spying on the Trump campaign. Although Congress seemed shocked, I suspect most Americans were not.

An article in The Gateway Pundit yesterday quotes James Comey in a recent interview:

“With respect to Barr’s comment, I have no idea what he’s talking about when he talks about spying on the campaign and so I can’t really react,” Comey said Thursday at a Hewlett Foundation conference.

…“The FBI and the Department of Justice conduct court-ordered electronic surveillance, “Comey said. “I have never thought of that as spying…and if the Attorney General has come to the belief that that should be called ‘spying’ – WOW!”

“But I don’t know what he meant by that term — and factually I don’t know what he meant because I don’t know of any court-ordered electronic surveillance aimed at the Trump campaign and that’s the reason for my confusion,” Comey said.

So now the argument is that the FISA warrants were not aimed at the Trump campaign? I’m sure it is just an incredible coincidence that most of the surveillance allowed by those FISA warrants were on members of the Trump campaign who would have communicated with the candidate fairly frequently. This may be believable to the never-Trump crowd, but I sure wouldn’t try to sell it anywhere else.

He who defines the words controls the debate.

It really doesn’t matter if it is court-ordered or not, if you are listening to a person’s private conversations, it is spying. Notice that in claiming it was court-ordered, he avoids the issue of whether or not the court was deceived.

We need to keep in mind that this was court-ordered surveillance of a political opponent’s campaign. It was the use of the government to spy on that campaign–it was not simple ‘opposition research.’ Richard Nixon was impeached for far less. Unless we hold those responsible accountable, this will become an everyday occurrence in political campaigns.

The Truth Begins To Drip Out

If you depend totally on the mainstream media for your news, you might be unaware that there was government surveillance of the Trump campaign and the Trump transition team. There is a school of thought that believes that Admiral Mike Rogers informed President Trump that Trump Tower was under electronic surveillance early in the Trump administration and that is the reason President Trump began doing business from New Jersey. I suspect that will be confirmed in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, there was some very interesting testimony on Capitol Hill by Attorney General William Barr regarding surveillance.

CNS News posted an article today about that testimony.

The article reports:

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) asked Attorney General William Barr at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Wednesday to “rephrase” his use of the word “spying” to characterize the government targeting the Trump campaign.

“I want to give you a chance to rephrase something you said, because I think when the attorney general of the United States uses the word ‘spying,’ it’s rather provocative, and in my view unnecessarily inflammatory, and I know what you’re getting at, because you have explained yourself in terms of answering Senator Graham’s questions and the questions of others,” Schatz said.

“Do you want to rephrase what you’re doing, because I think the word ‘spying’ could cause everybody in the cable news ecosystem to freak out, and I think it’s necessary for you to be precise with your language here. You normally are, and I want to give you a chance to be especially precise here,” the senator said.

The article continues:

As CNS News.com reported, Barr told Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) that “spying” occurred during the 2016 election.

“So you’re not suggesting though that spying occurred?” Shaheen asked.

“I think there was – spying did occur. Yes, I think spying did occur, but the question is whether it was predicated, adequately predicated, and I’m not suggesting it wasn’t adequately predicated, but I need to explore that,” the attorney general said.

“I think it’s my obligation. Congress is usually very concerned about intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies staying in their proper lane, and I want to make sure that happened,” Barr said.

I suspect that by the end of next week we will know a lot more about the surveillance of the Trump campaign and Trump transition team. The news media being what it is, I suspect a lot of information on this subject will be in the Good Friday news dump because the media is hoping most people will be too preoccupied with Easter to see it.

It Doesn’t Have To Be Real To Make The News

Yesterday Byron York posted an article at The Washington Examiner about the Trump dossier that received so much attention during the 2016 Presidential campaign. The article notes that the FBI has not verified the dossier.

The article reports:

FBI and Justice Department officials have told congressional investigators in recent days that they have not been able to verify or corroborate the substantive allegations of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign outlined in the Trump dossier.

The FBI received the first installment of the dossier in July 2016. It received later installments as they were written at the height of the presidential campaign, which means the bureau has had more than a year to investigate the allegations in the document. The dossier was financed by the Hillary Clinton campaign and compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele.

An August 24, 2017 subpoena from the House Intelligence Committee to the FBI and Justice Department asked for information on the bureau’s efforts to validate the dossier. Specifically, the subpoena demanded “any documents, if they exist, that memorialize DOJ and/or FBI efforts to corroborate, validate, or evaluate information provided by Mr. Steele and/or sub-sources and/or contained in the ‘Trump Dossier.'”

It sounds as if Congress wants the dossier proven or disproven, but the FBI and the Justice Department are dragging their feet.

The article reminds us that some parts of the dossier have already been shown to be untrue:

Some Republicans point out that at least one group of assertions, the ones concerning Michael Cohen, have been convincingly debunked. (Cohen has produced proof that he was not in the Czech Republic, or even in Europe, when the purported meeting took place.) The dossier attributed the Cohen story to a “Kremlin insider” who was “speaking in confidence to a longstanding compatriot friend.” Investigators want to know if that insider-compatriot line of sourcing provided other, equally unreliable information in the dossier.

The article concludes:

That’s fine, as far as it goes — after all, investigators unanimously agree that Russia tried to influence the election — but what about the Trump campaign? What about all those specific allegations of coordination between Team Trump and the Russians? Those were the most explosive parts of the dossier. And they remain unverified.

The bigger question is whether or not the dossier was used as a justification to put the Trump campaign and the Trump transition team under electronic surveillance. If that was done without verifying the information in the dossier, the people who signed off on the surveillance should at the very least be fired.

It Just Gets Uglier

The Federalist is reporting today that since April President Obama has sent nearly a million dollars of his campaign money to the law group that hired Fusion GPS. This information appears in records filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

The article reports:

The Washington Post reported last week that Perkins Coie, an international law firm, was directed by both the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Hillary Clinton’s campaign to retain Fusion GPS in April of 2016 to dig up dirt on then-candidate Donald Trump. Fusion GPS then hired Christopher Steele, a former British spy, to compile a dossier of allegations that Trump and his campaign actively colluded with the Russian government during the 2016 election. Though many of the claims in the dossier have been directly refuted, none of the dossier’s allegations of collusion have been independently verified. Lawyers for Steele admitted in court filings last April that his work was not verified and was never meant to be made public.

OFA, Obama’s official campaign arm in 2016, paid nearly $800,000 to Perkins Coie in 2016 alone, according to FEC records. The first 2016 payments to Perkins Coie, classified only as “Legal Services,” were made April 25-26, 2016, and totaled $98,047. A second batch of payments, also classified as “Legal Services,” were disbursed to the law firm on September 29, 2016, and totaled exactly $700,000. Payments from OFA to Perkins Coie in 2017 totaled $174,725 through August 22, 2017.

The significance of this is simple. The information in the dossier put together by Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele is said to be the basis for the surveillance of the Trump campaign and the Trump transition team. Think about that. Essentially President Obama paid to have a group gather dirt on Donald Trump and then used that dirt (even though it was questionable at best) as the basis for electronic surveillance. That sort of political spying on American citizens is exactly what those in Congress who opposed the Patriot Act were trying to prevent. It seems as if there are a lot of people in Washington who abused their power in recent years and need to be held accountable. The swamp must be drained.