WASHINGTON, D.C. – Pressure in Washington is building to get full disclosure from the Obama administration’s Department of Justice, NSA and CIA regarding the electronic surveillance conducted on the Russians that may have monitored Donald Trump and his close campaign aides during the 2016 election.
Yesterday, Judicial Watch announced the filing of a FOIA lawsuit against the CIA seeking an unclassified report assessing Russia’s interference in European elections.
The Judicial Watch FOIA request to obtain the CIA’s unclassified report regarding Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election was based on a Wall Street Journal report commenting that since 2015, Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, has demanded to see the unclassified version of the classified CIA report that was presented to the White House.
“The fact that the administration is picking and choosing the information it releases and who they release it to ought to give everybody concern that the administration is manipulating this,” Turner said.
This follows a separate Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit filed last week against the CIA, the Department of Justice and the Department of the Treasury, seeking to obtain records related to the investigation of retired U.S. Army Lt. General Michael Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
While President Trump has consistently denied any involvement with Russia to interfere with the 2016 election, last weekend he asked the congressional intelligence committees to investigate Obama administration electronic surveillance before the November election that may have intercepted his communications, as well as the communications of his close campaign associates.
Underlying the inquires being made since last weekend, when President Trump tweeted several messages accusing President Obama of “wiretapping” Trump Tower, is the suspicion President Obama may have encouraged Attorney Lynch to conduct FISA-authorized electronic surveillance of the Russians during the presidential campaign because the White House suspected the electronic surveillance would pick up incidentally Donald Trump and his closest campaign associates.
The suspicion in Washington is that President Obama ultimately will fail, just as President Nixon failed, invoking the Watergate defense that he did not directly give the order to “wiretap Trump,” but was knowledgeable in encouraging the electronic surveillance of the Russians because he and other top Obama administration officials had reason to believe the effort would gain intelligence on Trump’s electoral plans.
The key questions remain: (1.) Did Russia intervene in the U.S. 2016 presidential election? (2) If Russia did intervene, did Russia do so in collusion with Donald Trump? (3) What did President Obama know about the U.S. government electronic surveillance of Russia and when did he know it?
The answers to the last question – the question made famous by Sen. Howard Baker during the Watergate Hearings in 1974 – could end up creating serious legal difficulties – potentially even criminal legal difficulties – for President Obama, for his top aides, for former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, for former CIA Director John Brennan, and for Hillary Clinton – especially if it turns out the Obama administration shared with Hillary or her campaign intelligence gained about Trump and his 2016 presidential campaign.
On Tuesday, former Clinton campaign manager Robby, in an appearance on Fox News “Fox & Friends,” admitted the Clinton campaign had intelligence from the Obama administration that came from the electronic surveillance the administration was conducting on Russian agents during the campaign.
“Trump aides were caught talking to Russian agents, and those conversations were captured because the intelligence community regularly taps the phone lines of those Russian agents,” Mook explained.
Fox News interpreted Mook’s comments as the Obama administration was actively involved in conducting electronic surveillance against Russian agents, and that the Obama administration shared that information with the Clinton campaign.
“The whole situation is very bizarre that American campaign operatives would be going back and forth so much, not only with the Russian ambassador but other Russian agents as well,” Mook said. “The whole reason we are having this conversation is [because] the Trump campaign was talking to the Russians a lot. That’s how this got picked up. We need to understand why this was happening.”
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