After a year of alarming revelations, the media are still more
interested in proving the Trump campaign treasonously colluded with
Russia than wrestling with the fact that the FBI spied on a
On Saturday night, heavily redacted copies of the FBIs application
to wiretap Trump campaign affiliate Carter Page were released. The
portion of the 412-page document that was not redacted supported the
claims of Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.),
as well as those made by the majority of the House Permanent Select
Committee on Intelligence.
The senators and the representatives had issued reports alleging
that the FBI used an unverified Clinton campaign document to secure
a wiretap against an American citizen, that the application for the
wiretap used circular reporting and lacked verification for its
central claims, and that it made materially false claims related to
the sources credibility.
President Trump tweeted triumphantly and hyperbolically about what
the documents showed regarding the FBIs behavior toward his
campaign. Whatever you think about Trumps reaction to the release
of the FISA application, the media reaction to the story was
disingenuous and even more hyperbolic than the presidents tweets.
After a year of continuous and alarming revelations, the media are
still more interested in proving the Trump campaign treasonously
colluded with Russia than wrestling with the fact that the FBI spied
on a presidential campaign, and used dubious partisan political
research to justify their surveillance.
The media reaction to both the redacted Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act (FISA) wiretap applications and President Trumps
tweets was pure gaslighting. They claimed the FISA applications hurt
the critics case. It wasnt that they reported the news that
critics of the FISA application felt vindicated while defenders of
the wiretap applications also felt vindicated. They wrote as
partisans in a war with those skeptical of FISA abuse.
The New York Times went with both Without Evidence, Trump Claims
Vindication From Release of Carter Page Documents and How a Trump
Decision Revealed a G.O.P. Memos Shaky Foundation. The latter
headline was in reference to the House Intelligence report. The
accompanying article completely ignored the criminal referral from
Graham and Grassley that buttressed the HPSCI allegations.
USA Today went with President Trump, allies dismiss revelations in
new court documents tied to Russia probe. The Washington Post went
on a days-long tantrum. See, for example, Carter Page FISA warrants
underscore the difficulty of disproving presidential falsehoods,
The Carter Page wiretap dispute isnt a fair fight, and an error-
riddled, tangent-laden fact check headlined Over four days,
false claims dominated Trumps Twitter feed.
When Facts Get In The Way Of Narratives
This is part of a pattern for the media when they encounter facts
related to the surveillance of the Trump campaign. When Department
of Justice officials leaked to the media that they had run at least
one informant against the Trump campaign, a breathtaking admission
by any sense of news judgment, the news was buried in the middle of
the story and completely downplayed.
Others joined in with the gaslighting, spending weeks arguing and
Im not joking here that running a secret government informant
against a campaign is not spying on a campaign.
The Times headline was hand to God F.B.I. Used Informant to
Investigate Russia Ties to Campaign, Not to Spy, as Trump Claims.
CNN contributor and Obama director of national intelligence James
Clapper told the viewing audience that actually it was a good
thing that Trumps campaign was spied on. A Washington Post
journalist wrote in defense of obscuring the spying: Trumps win:
Were debating a spy, not an informant.'
Blaming Republicans For Comprehending Facts
If you go back to last year, CNNs Jake Tapper mocked and derided
Republican voters who told pollsters they thought the Obama
administration had spied on the Trump campaign. This mockery took
place _after_ CNN reported that
the Obama administration had spied
Still, he called it the definition of fake news and compared it to
believing in ghosts.
32 percent of the public thinks President Obama
intentionally spied on Donald Trump and members of his
campaign and 52 percent of Republicans believe this charge.
A charge that there is literally no evidence to support.
It is the definition of fake news.
Now, look, this is America and you can believe whatever
you want to believe. 18 percent of the public says theyve
seen or been in the presence of a ghost. I mean whatever.
But in a thriving democracy, truth matters and facts matter.
Again, this segment aired weeks after CNN itself reported that the
Obama administration had secured a wiretap to spy on Page.
What We Know of FBIs Trump Campaign Surveillance
Sometimes its good to take a step back from a complicated story and
view it from a distance. Rather than think about whether the wiretap
application against Carter Page supports this party or that party,
lets just take a moment to reflect on where the story stands.
In January 2017, days before Trumps inauguration, high-level
intelligence officials leaked to CNN the news that Intel chiefs
presented Trump with claims of Russian efforts to compromise him.
The Hillary Clinton campaign had latched onto Russia as an
explanation for her loss, encouraging a largely compliant media to
hype up reports of Russian meddling in the election.
This leak enabled the media to discuss the salacious and
unverified (in former FBI director James Comeys words) gossip that
was in a dossier. For the next year and many months into this year,
this leak and other leaks from intelligence officials fed a theory
that President Trump was a traitor who had conspired with Russia to
steal the election from Hillary Clinton.
A few lonely skeptics of the Grand Russia Theory began asking
questions about the dossier, its provenance, its weaponization, and
the larger investigation into the Trump campaign. Fighting against
an incredible media onslaught, they discovered things the media and
their cadre of leakers had not shared with the American public. And
1. Hillary Clinton and the DNC Secretly Paid for the Dossier
When the dossier first appeared on the scene, it was portrayed as a
top-notch intelligence product put together by a top-notch
intelligence official whose work history was credible.
It turned out to have been secretly bought and paid for by Hillary
Clinton and the Democratic National Committee. They took extreme
care to cover their tracks by funneling the money through a law firm
that hired the Democratic researchers to cook up the dossier. The
research product was then funneled to the media and the federal
Republican investigators found this out over the strenuous
objections and process wrangling of Democratic members such as Rep.
Adam Schiff, who fought tooth and nail to keep the funding of the
dossier hidden. This information was leaked to friendly media only
under pressure from congressional investigators.
This fact of the funding was obscured, just as the HPSCI report
said, by the FBI in a page-long word salad when they applied to a
secret court to wiretap a Trump affiliate. It was obscured so well
that Comey, who signed one of the applications, could get away with
claiming he had no idea that Clinton and the DNC funded the dossier.
Speaking of gaslighting, CBS News ran an Associated Press fact
check that claimed Its not correct to call the Steele dossier a
Clinton Campaign document.'
2. The Dossier Was Used to Secure a Wiretap Against a Trump
When CNN received its leak about the dossier from highly placed
intelligence officials, it reported as if the dossier was a
legitimate piece of research that sober-minded intelligence agencies
took very seriously. The unintentional hero of the story was
BuzzFeed, which ran the actual dossier in all its glory.
Americans learned that the dossier claimed a senior advisor to Trump
and three of his colleagues had met with Kremlin operatives in
Prague in late August or early September to undermine the Clinton
campaign. They also learned the Russians had a file of kompromat
on Trump, including an amazing story about him renting a hotel room
that the Obamas had used and paying prostitutes to urinate on the
People could see for themselves how ridiculous, preposterous, and
immediately debunkable some of the most important claims were. The
revelation of how fever-dreamed and sophomoric the dossier was, at
least in major parts, cast doubt on the wisdom of the top political
brass at intelligence agencies, much less their propriety and
ability to handle information with any discretion. Obviously they
were leaking like sieves in an ongoing war against the president-
Then Grassley began asking some rather serious questions that
suggested the dossier might have been used to secure a wiretap
against a Trump campaign affiliate. Thats when the defensive leak
to a friendly media outlet occurred, and we learned the dossier had
in fact been used to secure a wiretap against Page.
Trump critics say that since Page wasnt on the Trump campaign at
the time of the wiretap, it wasnt really surveillance of the
campaign. There are multiple problems with that. One is that
wiretaps can be used to obtain information into the past, of the
time Page was on the campaign. Another is that the wiretap would
capture communications with any Trump campaign members Page spoke
with. Another is that the FBI itself claimed in its wiretap
application that Page was the conduit between Russia and the
The case against Page laid out in the wiretap application began with
an unverified claim pulled straight out of the dossier. When Page
responded to public reporting of the dossiers claims by denying it,
that was also mentioned in the application. The geniuses at the FBI
wrote that they dont believe the news reports of the dossier claims
were fed by the dossier author, all evidence to the contrary.
3. Informants Were Run against the Trump Campaign
For most Americans, the idea that the FBI would run <s>secret
government spies</s> human informants against the Republican Partys
presidential campaign is a huge scandal. It happened, according to
government leakers who told friendly media outlets. Again:
The F.B.I. investigated four unidentified Trump campaign
aides in those early months, congressional investigators
revealed in February. The four men were Michael T. Flynn,
Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Mr. Papadopoulos, current
and former officials said
The F.B.I. obtained phone records and other documents using national
security letters a secret type of subpoena officials said. And
at least one government informant met several times with Mr. Page
and Mr. Papadopoulos, current and former officials said.
If the FBI genuinely believed that Russians were trying to illegally
infiltrate the Trump campaign, the proper course of action would be
to give the Trump campaign a defensive briefing warning them of the
efforts. To run <s>spies</s> human informants, wiretaps, national
security letters, and other surveillance against the campaign is
truly breathtaking and invasive.
4. The FBI Also Used Secret Subpoenas Against the Trump Campaign
From the same excerpt above:
The F.B.I. obtained phone records and other documents
using national security letters a secret type of
subpoena officials said.
You can, along with the partisan and gaslighting media, claim its
not a big deal to run human informants or secretly gather
intelligence against a presidential campaign. But you can not deny
Dems & the media want Trump to be more like Obama, but then he'd
have to audit liberals & wire tap reporters' phones.