Barack Obama vehemently denies ordering the wiretapping of phones in Trump Tower. But Obama also vehemently denied wiretapping the phones of German leader Angela Merkel in 2010:
The president allegedly allowed US intelligence to listen to calls from the German Chancellor’s mobile phone after he was briefed on the operation by Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency (NSA), in 2010.
The latest claim, reported in the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, followed reports in Der Spiegel that the surveillance of Mrs Merkel’s phone began as long ago as 2002, when she was still the opposition leader, three years before being elected Chancellor. That monitoring only ended in the weeks before Mr Obama visited Berlin in June , the magazine added.
At the time, the White House declined to comment on the bombshell report.
Obama was lying then. Is he lying now?
To be clear, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978 grants the president the power, through the attorney general, to spy on a “foreign power or agent of a foreign power.” However, according to the Justice Department, the president cannot conduct surveillance on “communication to which a U.S. person is a party” without presenting an affidavit establishing probable cause that the person in question is an agent of a foreign power.
There were public reports of a FISA request in October. However, Fran Townsend, former national security adviser to George W. Bush, said this week on “CBS This Morning” that she doubts the request concerned Trump himself:
“I feel confident it’s not of President Trump, but could it have been of one of his associates?” Townsend said. “We’ve heard wide reports of contacts between Paul Manafort, Mike Flynn, Carter Page and others. So could it have been one of the associates around him who also during the transition was working in Trump Tower? That’s possible.”
Townsend further explained that if the request was granted in October it would have expired in January — but it could be ongoing:
“That only would have been good for 90 days. So let’s look at the timeline here. If that was granted in October, it would have expired sometime in January, either before or after the inauguration. And if it was an ongoing counterintelligence investigation, that wire if reauthorized is still up right now,” Townsend said.
She added, “I would not be surprised if the Justice Department does not want to get into this publicly, especially if this is ongoing.”
Trump’s allegation calls for an independent investigation, and soon.