FBI Director, James Comey, asked the Justice Department to publicly refute President Trump’s claim President Obama wiretapped his phones.
Early Saturday morning, President Trump dropped the serious allegation, tweeting, “Just found out that Obama had my phones “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory.” The President doesn’t have the legal authority to wiretap. The FBI and the NSA take surveillance requests to the Department of Justice, where they’re processed through a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA).
Many serious questions arise. Did Trump learn of wiretaps in an intelligence briefing? If so, the President himself is leaking classified information. Were there, in fact, wiretaps? If so, the FBI and NSA were granted a warrant because a FISA court believed that many Trump campaign associates regularly communicating with Russians amounted to legitimate cause for surveillance.
Republican Senator Lindsay Graham said, “I would be very worried if, in fact, the Obama administration was able to obtain a warrant lawfully about Trump campaign activity with foreign governments. It’s my job as a United States senator to get to the bottom of this.”
That’s where this path almost certainly leads, the conclusion that no executive branch authority was abused and, yes, Trump tower was wiretapped. If a wiretap were granted, the public would have a reasonable expectation that Trump’s team did, in fact, collude with Russia to undermine our democratic system and help elect Trump.
Trump may not yet be fully aware what his latest Twitter lie may have unleashed. The nation’s top law enforcement official rebuking the President is a remarkable situation which puts the FBI, Department of Justice, and Comey in a difficult situation. Who at the Department of Justice would issue such a rebuttal? The Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, has recused himself. Comey is the most senior law enforcement official with intimate knowledge of Trump’s claim. If Comey knows it’s a lie, he may have to issue the public rebuttal himself.
The New York Times first reported that Comey requested the Justice Department to refute Trump’s wiretapping claim.