Earlier this year, President Donald Trump set off a media firestorm when he sent out a tweet accusing the Obama administration of wiretapping him at Trump Tower.
Naturally, the media mocked Trump’s statements, and continued to pursue their yet-to-be-proven Russiagate narrative. However, recent revelations have shown that there is a lot of truth to the president’s claims. According to The Washington Times, Former National Security Director James Clapper recently told CNN that it is possible that Trump’s voice was picked up by federal authorities who had wiretapped Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager.
In the interview, CNN’s Don Lemon asked the former National Security Director if the surveillance would have recorded conversations with President Trump. “It’s certainly conceivable,” Clapper responded. “I wouldn’t want to go there, but I will say it’s possible.”
While we are not 100% sure that the authorities recorded any conversations between Trump and Manafort, it is highly likely that it happened. Manafort kept a residence at Trump Tower around the time he was being monitored by federal investigators.
If Manafort was running Trump’s campaign while living in Trump Tower, the idea that the authorities did not record any conversations with the then-presidential candidate does not seem viable. Trump would have had numerous interactions with Manafort during the former campaign manager’s tenure on his team.
Of course, Clapper’s admission should not be surprising, given the recent news. However, the fact that a former high-ranking member of the Intelligence Community was willing to admit that the president’s voice may have been captured in surveillance is compelling.
Federal authorities began monitoring Paul Manafort after they went to a secret FISA court to obtain permission to conduct surveillance on him. The objective was to discover any illicit dealings with the Ukraine. Manafort’s questionable ties to Ukraine and Russia were one of the reasons Trump removed him as campaign director in August.
After the first warrant did not pan out, federal authorities asked the FISA court for another warrant, one that would allow them to wiretap the former campaign director. We still do not know what, if any, information the feds discovered while monitoring Manafort’s communications — however, the fact that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has indicated that Manafort would likely be indicted could mean that the wiretaps were successful.
The potential ramifications of this revelation are still unknown, but it appears that President Trump might have been right in his conclusion that the Obama administration was surveilling his campaign at Trump Tower. However, this is no smoking gun.
The feds began investigating Manafort long before he became Trump’s campaign manager. His relationship with Russia has been a source of suspicion for the authorities for a long time. If President Trump was caught on the surveillance, it will be hard to argue that the wiretap was put in place for political reasons, given the fact that Manafort was already under surveillance.
However, when you take into account the unmasking of Trump campaign officials, it’s hard to deny that the Obama administration was seeking to gain information on Trump’s campaign. Not only that, but their alleged wiretapping of Paul Manafort without evidence is disturbing. Whether he’s guilty or not, the idea that the authorities would conduct surveillance on an American citizen without probable cause is even more disturbing.
As Mueller’s investigation continues, it is unclear whether or not the feds’ wiretapping of Paul Manafort will lead to any results that could harm the Trump administration. However, if Mueller exceeds his mandate and looks for other crimes unrelated to Russian interference in the 2016 election, there are others that could be in trouble.