In a new Op-Ed for the Federalist, Margot Cleveland argues that the IG report proves the Obama Administration indeed spied on the Trump campaign big time.
Last week, President Trump triggered the left when he tweeted a Photoshopped picture that portrayed former President Barack Obama perched midair outside Trump Tower, binoculars and listening device in hand.
The liberal outlet Vox condemned the president for his “increasingly bad tweets,” before declaring “there’s no evidence the Obama administration spied on Trump.” Vox then regurgitated the false narrative that, while the FBI did surveil former Trump foreign policy advisor Carter Page, “that didn’t happen until after Page left the campaign.”
For years, conservatives tried to correct the record, noting that a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) order gave the government access to Page’s past emails and other electronic communications with members of the Trump campaign, but the mainstream media ignored this reality. That the liberal and legacy press continue to push this narrative now, following the release of Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on FISA abuse, is beyond baffling, because the IG report established that the Obama administration spied on the Trump campaign, and the spying was much worse than previously thought.
Spying on Carter Page Was Spying on the Trump Campaign
The FISA warrants, of course, gave the FBI authority to spy on Page, and now that the government has finally made a mea culpa, we know that surveillance was illegal. But contrary to the continuing narrative, that spying wasn’t limited to Page. It included internal Trump campaign communications.
The IG report acknowledged this, noting that Gabriel Sanz-Rexach, the chief of the Office of Intelligence’s Operations Section, explained “that the evidence collected during the first FISA application time period demonstrated that Carter Page had access to individuals in Russia and he was communicating with people in the Trump campaign.”
Horowitz’s report added that, “based on our review of the Woods Files and communications between the FBI and [Office of Intelligence], we identified a few emails between Page and members of the Donald J. Trump for President Campaign concerning campaign related matters.” The Woods file is a record of compliance with procedures intended to “ensure accuracy with regard to…the facts supporting probable cause.”
Don’t let the “few emails” mislead: The FISA surveillance didn’t just accidently sweep in a few random campaign communications. Rather, the “few” campaign communications the IG identified came from its limited review of the Woods file and select FBI communications. The IG report made this point clear in a footnote, stating it did not review the entirety of the FISA-intercepted communications—only those “pertinent to” the IG’s review of FISA abuse.
While we do not know how many campaign emails and communications were swept into the FISA surveillance of Page, we do know the FBI would have had access to all campaign emails that originated from Page or included him as a recipient. And the number of emails accessed appears large, given that the IG report stated that 45 days into the surveillance order, the FBI “team had not reviewed all of the emails the first FISA application yielded and believed there were additional emails not yet collected.” The IG report also established that the Crossfire Hurricane team recognized “the possibility that the FISA collection would include sensitive political campaign related information.”
The IG report also did more than confirm the Crossfire Hurricane team accessed some Trump campaign communications: It established that accessing Page’s communications with the Trump campaign was the goal of the FISA order.
For instance, a case agent working the Crossfire Hurricane investigation explained to the IG’s team that because Page had just “returned from his trip to Russia” before the Republicans’ national convention, the FBI’s “belief was that Page was involved in the platform change [concerning Ukraine] and the team was hoping to find evidence of that in their review of the FISA collections of Page’s email accounts.”
The FISA Warrant Allowed Physical Searches
Beyond the electronic campaign communications the FBI intercepted, agents may also have accessed hardcopies of campaign materials Page kept. As the IG report explained, FISA allows for both electronic surveillance and physical searches if, in addition to establishing that the target is a “foreign agent,” the application “states the facts and circumstances justifying the applicant’s belief that the premises or property to be searched contains ‘foreign intelligence information’ and ‘is or is about to be, owned, used, possessed by, or is in transit to or from’ the target.”
Read more here.