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New FBI Texts May Implicate Obama in FISAGate

Barack Obama waves

Newly revealed text messages between FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page may directly implicate President Barack Obama in the Foreign Intelligence Service Act (FISA) surveillance scandal.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Obama's administration sought multiple FISA warrants to snoop on members of the Donald Trump campaign — and may have even listened in on conversations involving Trump in Trump Tower. Interestingly, the FISA court denied an FBI request in June 2016 — a remarkable act, as 99.97 percent of FISA requests are eventually granted. The warrant to spy on members of the Trump campaign was approved in October.

The relevant text, from Page to Strzok, revealed that "potus wants to know everything we're doing." Page sent this message on September 2, 2016, announcing to her lover that she had a meeting to discuss "TPs for D" — talking points for the director, i.e. James Comey, director of the FBI — because of Obama's interest.

POTUS is the acronym for "President of the United States," and in this case it referred to President Barack Obama, who seemed interested in knowing the FBI's inner workings at this time. Fox News reported the text Wednesday, also highlighting text messages regarding the laptop of former Congressman Anthony Weiner, the husband of Hillary Clinton's closest aide Huma Abedin.

Previous text messages from Page and Strzok revealed that then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch knew — before Hillary Clinton testified — that Clinton would be exonerated in the email scandal, and that senior FBI officials suspected there would be "no there, there" in the Russia collusion investigation.

Obama's interest in the FBI at this time seems critical, since the Obama administration's first FISA request was rejected a few months before and the successful surveillance request would be granted one month later. This text also came in the midst of a crucial delay in processing Weiner's laptop, which had carried classified information.

Just how involved was Obama personally in the FISA requests? Did he mastermind the entire process, or did he become more involved after September 2, and help to make the October FISA request successful where the June FISA request was not?

According to testimony given by former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, the October FISA request relied on the Trump-Russia dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele. The Clinton campaign paid a firm called Fusion GPS for this dossier, through the mediation of the law firm Perkins Coie.

To make matters worse, the Obama administration, in its final days, expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government's 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.