Former Democrat Congressman on Trump Wiretap Claims: 'It Happened to Me'
Former Ohio Democrat Congressman Dennis Kucinich defended President Donald Trump's claims about being wiretapped by the Obama administration during the 2016 presidential election.
"It's important because there are people who are saying about President Trump's claim, 'Oh, it could never happen.' Well, frankly, it happened to me," Kucinich told Fox News on Friday. Also on Friday, the former congressman penned an article on Fox News describing the incident — a phone call in his congressional office from a foreign leader had been tapped in 2011, and he listened to a recording of it in 2015.
"Members of Congress ought to be aware that my experience was that my phone wasn't safe in a congressional office," Kucinich, who served in the House of Representatives from 1997 to 2013, said. "Now, if they can do that to a member of Congress, they can certainly do it to a presidential candidate, and they can do it to private citizens as well."
The former congressman learned that he had been wiretapped two years after leaving office, when he was approached by The Washington Times. "The newspaper's investigative reporters called me, saying they had obtained a tape of a sensitive telephone conversation that they wanted me to verify," Kucinich wrote. "When I met them at a Chinese restaurant in Washington, they played back audio of a call I had taken in my D.C. congressional office four years earlier."
Kucinich recalled that the call had been from Saif el-Islam Qaddafi, a high-ranking official in Libya's government and a son of the country's ruler, Moammar Qaddafi. "At the time I was leading efforts in the House to challenge the Obama administration's war against Libya," the former congressman recalled. "The Qaddafi government reached out to me because its appeals to the White House and the State Department to forestall the escalating aggression had gone unanswered."
The Democrat former congressman also noted that he had checked with the House's general counsel to make sure that such a discussion was permitted by law. "I was assured that under the Constitution a lawmaker had a fundamental duty to ask questions and gather information—activity expressly protected by the Article I clauses covering separation of powers and congressional speech and debate."
Kucinich noted that The Washington Times reporters did not say who made the tape, but the paper's stories referenced "secret audio recordings recovered from Tripoli." The former congressman said he suspected the audio was not recovered from overseas — as it was in fine condition, and leaked to a Washington, D.C., newspaper.
"I believe the tape was made by an American intelligence agency and then leaked to the Times for political reasons," Kucinich wrote. "If so, this episode represented a gross violation of the separation of powers."
This episode would also have illustrated how plausible it is that Donald Trump, as a presidential candidate from the opposite party of the sitting president, could have been targeted for surveillance in the final months of an election. "When the president raised the question of wiretapping on his phones in Trump Tower, he was challenged to prove that such a thing could happen," Kucinich wrote. "It happened to me."
The former congressman concluded his interview on Fox News by defending Americans' constitutional right to privacy. "The Fourth Amendment should protect all Americans with a right to privacy unless there's some criminal activity that is suspected," he said.
When it comes to the surveillance state in recent years, however, Kucinich referenced the infamous dystopian novel by Aldous Huxley. "It's a brave new world in America."