President Trump’s weekend claim that the federal government conducted surveillance at Trump Tower has generated guffaws from establishment media outlets.
But upon closer examination, the original sources were … mainstream media themselves.
In the form of the New York Times and McClatchy, among others.
On Jan. 19, just as Trump was preparing for his inauguration the next day, the Times revealed, “American law enforcement and intelligence agencies are examining intercepted communications and financial transactions as a part of a broad investigation into possible links between Russian officials and associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump.”
While the report speculated whether the “intercepted communications had anything to do with Mr. Trump’s campaign, or Mr. Trump himself,” it didn’t have the answer.
The Times referred to intelligence reports that are “based on some of the wiretapped communications” and said they were provided to the White House, at the time still under Barack Obama.
The story, which carried four bylines and a contributor, speculated about former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and said its discoveries would mean that Trump “will take the oath of office on Friday with his associates under investigation.”
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“Mr. Manafort is among at least three Trump campaign advisers whose possible links to Russia are under scrutiny. Two others are Carter Page, a businessman and former foreign policy adviser to the campaign, and Roger Stone, a longtime Republican operative,” the report said.
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The Times had to admit, however, that, while “investigators have accelerated their efforts in recent weeks [they] have found no conclusive evidence of wrongdoing.”
McClatchy, only a day earlier, had quoted two people “familiar” with the issue saying that the FBI and five other agencies were collaborating on an investigation into “Russian attempts to influence the November election.”
That probe was helped along by “a former British spy hired to develop politically damaging and unverified research about Trump,” the report said.
The report repeatedly refers to “email hacks” referencing the break-ins into the digital domain of the Democratic National Committee and others.
The claim at the time was that the hacks were done to help the Trump campaign and hurt the campaign of Hillary Clinton.
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California said she even believed Russia’s tactics altered the election result.
And Breitbart pointed out over the weekend, shortly after Trump’s comments, the New York Times “has inadvertently attacked the credibility of its own reporting on the Obama administration’s investigation of Russia and now-President Donald Trump.”
“Times reporters Michael Schmidt and Michael Shear write that Trump believes the ‘deep state’ intelligence community, staffed with holdovers from the Obama administration, wiretapped several of his campaign associates because of a spurious article from Breitbart News.”
The report said Trump’s demand for a congressional inquiry into the issue “appears to be based, at least in part, on unproved claims by Breitbart News and conservative talk radio hosts that secret warrants were issued authorizing the tapping of the phones of Mr. Trump and his aides at Trump Tower in New York.”
But the Breitbart article “cites the Times’ own reporting on the intelligence community. Their January 19th article … quotes an anonymous source who says that ‘wiretapped communications had been provided to the White House.’”
Obama, who has been documented to have used the surveillance apparatus of the U.S. government against his foes, has been defended by spokesmen who have been careful to leave “open the possibility of sensational executive overreach if not outright illegal activities.”
Critics were of a differing opinion.
Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch said the “deep state” is in full rebellion against Trump and they will go to any lengths to cover their tracks.
“I’ve been saying for some time that the scandal involves surveillance and illegal leaks of information concerning the Trump team. The left had been trying to distract the public with the unicorn theory of election and the Russians quote ‘stealing’ the election when in fact you had the president’s people in the Obama administration surveilling and trying to influence the election prior to it and then afterward leaking information in a way to destroy the Trump administration.”