RUSH: Andy McCarthy wrote a piece on Saturday: “The Obama Camp’s Disingenuous Denials on FISA Surveillance of Trump.” Now, Andy’s been writing about this shall we say “scandal,” uncovered scandal, for months. Trump’s tweet on Saturday morning exploded that scandal in front of everybody’s face.
“The fact that the Obama Justice Department and the FBI investigated associates of Donald Trump, and likely Trump himself, in the heat of the presidential campaign.” That is something that we know happened; there isn’t any question about it; there isn’t any ambiguity about it. It simply was not reported in mainstream Drive-By circles. “To summarize, reporting indicates that, prior to June 2016, the Obama Justice Department and FBI considered a criminal investigation of Trump associates, and perhaps Trump himself, based on concerns about connections to Russian financial institutions.”
This is June, last year. “Preliminary [investigations by the Obama Justice Department] indicated that there was nothing criminal involved.” It’s important to remember something here. The FBI has two different kinds of investigations. They do criminal investigations where they go after bad guys, and if they’re found guilty, they go to jail or pay a fine. They lose their liberty, lose their freedom. It’s criminal. The other thing the FBI does is related to national security, and there’s nothing criminal about that.
Now, the president is not constitutionally permitted to interfere in criminal investigations. That would be very unethical, not allowed. In some cases, the president has no right to know. But when it comes to national security like seeking a FISA warrant or whenever the DOJ and the FBI are doing anything related to national security, the president has every right to know about it. He runs the executive branch. National security is his bailiwick. Now, the left is trying to confuse people by conflating these two different types of investigations and claiming, “Well, Obama couldn’t have known. Presidents can’t get involved in criminal investigations!”
This is not criminal. Obama could very well have known about every stage of whatever was done to Trump. He could have ordered it. He could have requested it. He could have asked for it with plausible deniability, or he could have been told about it after somebody else instigated it. But it’s not prohibited that he know when it comes to national security what the FBI’s doing and the DOJ in that area. So here’s the thing.
After this first investigation in June — which was, again, investigating whether or not Trump or his associates has been involved with Russian financial institutions. That investigation went nowhere; it found nothing. Instead of shutting “the case down, though, the Obama Justice Department converted it into a national-security investigation.” See? It starts criminal. Nothing there. So then they say, “You know what? We’re gonna make this a national security thing!” Then they went to the FISA court.
RUSH: Now, back to the timeline and the FISA warrants, because this gets to the nub and the substance of this. Again, “prior to June 2016, the Obama Justice Department and FBI considered a criminal investigation of Trump associates, and perhaps Trump himself, based on concerns about connections” between Trump people and Russian banks. A criminal investigation is different from national security investigations in that criminal investigations, the White House can’t get involved. It’s reflectively. They’re not allowed to know; they can’t intercede.
That’s not supposed to happen. We know it does, but on the other side national security investigations, the president can be involved, can often order them and direct them, and that’s why that’s important. So they looked around after they got their warrant to look into whether Trump and his associates had been involved with Russian banks. They found nothing. Nothing criminal. So rather than just stop and say, “Okay,” end of story, “the Obama Justice Department converted it into a national-security investigation under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA),” which has its own court.
The FISA court. “FISA allows the government, if it gets court permission,” and permission is almost always granted, which is a key point here. If the government gets permission, the government is allowed “to conduct electronic surveillance (which could include wiretapping, monitoring of e-mail …),” which is what happened to James Rosen at Fox News, and things similar, and they can do this “against those it alleges are ‘agents of a foreign power.'” FISA dates back to Jimmy Carter. It’s that recent.
So the criminal investigation into whether or not Trump had done anything with banks and Russia zip, zero, nada there. So they said, “Okay, well, let’s go to the FISA court and let’s get a warrant and let’s see if we can wiretap. Let’s see if we can monitor email.” Now, these FISA applications and the evidence garnered from them are classified. We wouldn’t know about any of this unless somebody had leaked information, which is a felony. If you know anything about this, it’s because somebody has created a felony, committed a felony.
“In June, the Obama Justice Department submitted an application that apparently ‘named’ Trump in addition to some of his associates.” Now, McCarthy writes that it’s “unclear whether ‘named’ in this context indicates that Trump himself was cited as a person the Justice Department was alleging was a Russian agent whom it wanted to surveil. It could instead mean that Trump’s name was merely mentioned in an application that sought to conduct surveillance on other alleged Russian agents,” meaning Americans who were Russian agents. President Trump’s tweets on Saturday claimed that ‘President Obama … tapp[ed] my phones[.]'”
Now, Trump’s not just throwing this against the wall to see if it sticks, more than likely, and the fact that he said, “Obama tapped my phones” makes it more likely that Trump was targeted for surveillance rather than merely mentioned. Again, it was back in June in the first FISA application. But guess what? In something of a real rarity — it hardly ever happens — the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court turned down the Obama Justice Department’s request.” That never happens. The FISA court all… This is one of the criticisms of the FISA court is that it’s a rubber stamp.
That you can go in there and ask them to surveil Elmer Fudd and between bites of pizza, the judge says, “Yeah, go for it.” They turned it down. Meaning, folks, that whatever evidence they presented the court for justifying surveilling Trump was so limited and thin and maybe nonexistent that they were refused their warrant to surveil Trump in June.
So two times in June the DOJ investigates Trump for activities, he and his associates, with Russian banks. The first was a criminal investigation in June that went nowhere. Rather than pack up and go home, they went to the FISA court, said, “Hey, we went to look at this as a national security issue. That’ll let us wiretap.” The FISA court turned them down two times, the Obama Department of Justice, which means Obama.
Now, Obama can’t do the same thing in a criminal probe, but since it’s foreign national security, not only can he know about it, he can direct it. So turned down twice we are now. The Obama Justice Department went back to the FISA court in October, a month before the election, and this time they submitted a narrow application that did not mention Trump. We know that these two FISA attempts were made and that this one was granted.
The Drive-By Media has reported on this. It isn’t a mystery. That’s one of the things that’s kind of funny about this. They’re acting like they don’t know anything that this is about, and they’ve reported all of this. Their leakers have given them information of what’s in these things. That’s why anybody knows about any of this.
At any rate, the FISA court approved, they granted the application authorizing surveillance of some of Donald Trump’s associates. This is back in October in the weeks leading up to the election. It could still be underway, for all we know. We don’t know that it’s ever ended. They could still be surveilling Trump associates, the Department of Justice. A lot of Obama people are still there, they could still be surveilling Trump, quote, unquote, associates trying to find what is impossible to find, evidence that Trump screwed with the Russians the elections.
The New York Times identified three of the targets that this FISA warrant was granted. Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign chairman, who was ousted in August, and two others. One was Roger Stone, and the other Carter Page. Stone is a gadfly, political consultant, and Carter Page is an investor. The New York Times report — again we’re back now, this is in January, good old Michael S. Schmidt here — concedes that this FISA investigation may actually have nothing to do with Trump. Remember, the first request was not granted, and it mentioned Trump.
The second request in October, they were granted the warrant, which allowed them to surveil and wiretap and all that, but it didn’t mention Trump. And the New York Times reported that this investigation may have nothing to do with Trump or the campaign or alleged Russian efforts to interfere. This is the kind of thing that — this appears in a story about the Russians hacking the election, complete with the headline, it’s the latest information, and if you dig deep, this is where they report there’s nothing here. And, in fact, not only is there nothing, we don’t know that that’s still the target. Yet they won’t give up the story. And that’s why I claim to you raw hatred, raw politics is behind this.
So here comes a statement after Trump’s tweet on Saturday, here comes a statement from Kevin Lewis of the Obama team. “A cardinal rule of the Obama Administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice.” Now, you know, ’cause I’ve explained it to you, there’s a lot of wiggle room in that. It’s probably true that no White House official ever interfered with an independent CRIMINAL investigation, but he didn’t specify. If it’s a national security investigation, they had to be all over it, almost as a matter of law because it’s the president’s bailiwick.
So Kevin Lewis continues: “As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.” Okay. But it doesn’t mean that no one ordered surveillance. He didn’t say the surveillance wasn’t ordered. He just said Obama didn’t do it. Not that it wasn’t ordered.
Well, here’s the thing. As anybody who lives and breathes in this stuff knows, the FISA court orders surveillance, not Obama, not the president. He has to go get permission from the FISA court; and as I say, it’s almost routinely granted. And also as a matter of statutory law, it’s the Justice Department and not the White House that represents the government before the FISA court.
Now, when you have the Obama administration and the corrupt DOJ, it’s the same thing as Obama being up there, but technically the administration doesn’t go argue for their warrant, the DOJ does, Eric Holder, Loretta Lynch, depending on timing. This would have been Loretta Lynch. So the issue isn’t whether Obama or some member of his staff ordered surveillance of Trump and his associates.
Here are the issues. Whether the Obama Justice Department sought such surveillance from the FISA court; B, whether, if the Justice Department did that, that the White House was aware of it or complicit in it. And, given the explosive, controversial nature of the surveillance request we’re talking about, which is an application to wiretap the presidential candidate of the opposition party, some of his associates during the heat of the campaign, it seems there’s less than zero chance that could have been happened without the consultation between the Department of Justice and the White House.
In other words, if you’re going to surveil the Republican presidential candidate at the Department of Justice, are you gonna do that without Obama knowing it? Are you gonna do it without Obama telling you? The idea that Obama wasn’t involved here, according to their statements, I think it’s bohunk.
RUSH: There’s another thing to be considered here. At the very time the Obama Justice Department was seeking to surveil Trump — I mean, they were asking the FISA court for warrants to surveil. Remember, they were denied. But at the time they were doing this, the same Obama Justice Department was actively undermining examine closing without charges the criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton. So there’s a nothing case against Trump that they’re investigating.
There is a huge something case with Hillary, which the same DOJ shut down. Now, I have a little question I’d like to ask you, born of nothing here. What if we learn in the coming days that the FBI has not been investigating Trump-Russia connections to hack the election? What if they haven’t been investigating that at all? What if that’s nothing more than a very moist dream of the Democrat Party and the media? What if what the FBI’s looking into is what that first FISA warrant was about — or the second one — which is Trump associates Stone, Carter Page, and Manafort and what they were doing? Because there isn’t any evidence.
There isn’t any evidence. Nobody’s had any evidence; nobody’s gonna close to any. There isn’t any evidence that the Russians tampered with the election outcome and did so with Trump. There’s not a scintilla. What if we learn somewhere down the road…? What are the Democrats gonna do when they learn that the FBI hadn’t even really been investigating that since there’s nothing there? Look out for that day. If that happens (Whew!), there’s gonna be explosions like you can’t believe. If they find out that everything they’ve been doing since the election, everything they’ve been hyping (chuckling) hasn’t even been ongoing. We’ll see.