Did Obama Spy on Trump? by Andrew P. Napolitano

Will we ever know for sure if Obama spied on Trump? Probably not, because a president can spy on whomever he or she wants, without a warrant and without leaving any other kind of paper trail. That’s the real tragedy of the Obama spying on Trump brouhaha. From Andrew P. Napolitano at lewrockwell.com:

The question of whether former President Barack Obama actually spied on President Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign and transition has been tantalizing Washington since President Trump first made the allegation nearly two weeks ago. Since then, three investigations have been launched — one by the FBI, one by the House of Representatives and one by the Senate. Are the investigators chasing a phantom, or did this actually happen?

Here is the back story.

Obama would not have needed the warrant to authorize surveillance on Trump. Obama was the president and as such enjoyed authority under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to order surveillance on any person in America, without suspicion, probable cause or a warrant.

FISA contemplates that the surveillance it authorizes will be for national security purposes, but this is an amorphous phrase and an ambiguous standard that has been the favorite excuse of most modern presidents for extraconstitutional behavior. In the early 1970s, President Richard Nixon used national security as a pretext to deploying the FBI and CIA to spy on students and even to break into the office of the psychiatrist of Daniel Ellsberg, one of his tormentors.

FISA was enacted in the late 1970s to force the federal government to focus its surveillance activities — its domestic national security-based spying — on only those people who were more likely than not agents of a foreign government. Because FISA authorizes judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to make rules and establish procedures for surveillance — essentially lawmaking — in secret, the public and the media have been largely kept in the dark about the nature and extent of the statute and the legal and moral rationale for the federal government’s spying on everyone in the U.S.

To continue reading: Did Obama Spy on Trump?

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