Paul Manafort is calling on the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate leaks that indicate U.S. authorities wiretapped him, and is asking that the transcripts of the intercepts be publicly released.
Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, made the demands through his spokesman Jason Maloni in a statement on Tuesday. CNN reported Monday evening that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court had approved two surveillance orders targeting Manafort — one in 2014 that was ended due to lack of evidence in 2016 and one for an unspecified time leading into early this year.
In the statement, Manafort demanded that “the Department of Justice release any transcripts between him and any non-Americans so interested parties can come to the same conclusion as the DOJ — there is nothing there.”
For a U.S. citizen to be the target of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act order, authorities have to establish probable cause that the person is an agent of a foreign power.
Mr. Manafort’s spokesman, Jason Maloni, said Tuesday that, if true, it’s a felony crime to reveal the existence of a FISA warrant.
“The U.S Department of Justice’s Inspector General should immediately conduct an investigation into these leaks and to examine the motivations behind a previous Administration’s effort to surveil a political opponent,” Mr. Maloni said.
Citing “three sources familiar with the investigation,” CNN reported that “the government snooping continued into early this year, including a period when Manafort was known to talk to President Donald Trump.”
Mr. Manafort has owned a home in Trump Tower since 2006.
Bill Browder, the CEO and co-founder of Hermitage Capital, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee back in July that Fusion GPS was acting on behalf of Russia at the time it hired British spy Christopher Steele to dig up dirt for the anti-Trump dodgy dossier. The FBI used the the dodgy dossier allegations to bolster their case to get the FISA warrant in June/July 2016, effectively using Russian propaganda as a pretext to spy on Trump.
The Conservative Tree House points out that Trump’s entire transition team moved out of Trump Tower the day after NSA head Admiral Mike Rogers paid him a visit last November.
We also know the actual surveillance within these FISA warrants was carried out by the NSA. Additionally we know that NSA head Admiral Mike Rogers met with President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday November 17th without notifying ODNI James Clapper. The day after Admiral Rogers met with President-elect Trump, the entire transition team left Trump Tower and moved their work to New Jersey. Admiral Mike Rogers still has his job as head of the NSA.
Rogers’ impertinence in visiting Trump reportedly “caused consternation” at senior levels of the outgoing Obama administration.
In a move apparently unprecedented for a military officer, Rogers, without notifying superiors, traveled to New York to meet with Trump on Thursday at Trump Tower. That caused consternation at senior levels of the administration, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal personnel matters.
The Washington Post reported on November 18 that “the intelligence community” wanted Mike Rogers be removed from his NSA position:
The heads of the Pentagon and the nation’s intelligence community have recommended to President Obama that the director of the National Security Agency, Adm. Michael S. Rogers, be removed.
The recommendation, delivered to the White House last month, was made by Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., according to several U.S. officials familiar with the matter.
Back in March, Trump drew scoffs and guffaws from the media when he tweeted that he had discovered that Obama had wiretapped him in Trump Tower.
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
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
CNN scoffed at the claim at the time, calling it “baseless.” The New York Times sneered in its headline that Trump had “offered no evidence” for his assertion. Gizmodo called it “bullsh*t.” And Newsweek flatly reported that his claim was “false.”
And those were some of the nicer reactions.
Judge Andrew Napolitano on Fox News Tuesday said that the CNN report about the wiretap clearly vindicated Trump.
“The issue is not was Paul Manafort being surveilled. That’s a given — the FBI doesn’t deny it. The issue was what did they pick up from Donald Trump,” Judge Nap said.
He added that if the DOJ got a warrant from the FISA court, “they can share that information with the West Wing of the White House …Valerie Jarrett and Susan Rice.”
“The whole media … that mercilessly mocked him [Trump] was wrong!” Napolitano exclaimed. “I’m waiting for the apologies today, have you heard any?”
Napolitano said that the only way to find out the extent to which former President Obama was involved is to put people like Susan Rice under oath. Rice answered the House Intelligence Committee’s questions behind closed doors earlier this month, finally admitting that she had engaged in unmasking after initially denying it. Judge Nap suggested she should come before the Senate Judiciary Committee and be questioned by Senator Charles Grassley, as should former UN Ambassador Samantha Power, who was a diplomat and had no reason to be involved with an intelligence investigation.
Napolitano said the unmasking scandal was “under the surface and ready to explode.”