A number of ex-Obama officials appear to suggest that the Obama administration may have actually wiretapped the Trump campaign, but that if they did it would have been justified by a court and part of an investigation by the Justice Department—not led by or ordered from the White House or the former president himself.
On Saturday, former President Obama’s spokesman Kevin Lewis denied that the former White House or the former President himself would have given such an order to wiretap Trump Tower—or any other type of surveillance in any case—but that such an order would have come from an “independent investigation led by the Department of Justice.”
“A cardinal rule of the Obama Administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice,” Lewis said. “As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.”
Lewis’ statement on the former president’s behalf came in response to the explosive charges from President Donald Trump, who tweeted on Saturday morning that the Obama team conducted surveillance on Trump Tower during the campaign and afterward.
Valerie Jarrett, another close Obama aide, also tweeted the statement from former President Obama’s spokesman, Lewis. Jarrett is, according to the U.K. Daily Mail, now living in the Obamas’ multimillion dollar Washington, D.C. mansion. From there, the Daily Mail reports, the former president and Jarrett will be running a “nerve center for their plan to mastermind the insurgency against President Trump.”
Check out statement from Kevin Lewis, spokesperson to former President Obama. Enough said. pic.twitter.com/OTEQiVOHvh
— Valerie Jarrett (@ValerieJarrett) March 4, 2017
Interestingly, however, a number of other former Obama administration officials do not deny that such a wiretap existed. They just deny that the White House or Obama himself would have approved it or ordered it, and say that the Department of Justice would have sought it in consultation with a foreign intelligence surveillance, or FISA, court.
Obama’s former speechwriter Jon Favreau tweeted that he would warn reporters against saying there was no wiretap.
I'd be careful about reporting that Obama said there was no wiretapping. Statement just said that neither he nor the WH ordered it.
— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) March 4, 2017
And Favreau endorsed a Twitter feed that laid out the reporting about the existence of the wiretaps, which cited reporting from Louise Mensch, formerly of Heat Street, and The Guardian that the Obama DOJ had sought a FISA court approved surveillance warrant for Trump Tower back in the summer of 2016 that was denied but received a narrower focused warrant in October.
Ok you definitely need to read this thread https://t.co/W7CkXjV40f
— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) March 4, 2017
David Axelrod, another former Obama adviser, tweeted that such a wiretap would receive court approval “for a reason.”
If there were the wiretap @realDonaldTrump loudly alleges, such an extraordinary warrant would only have been OKed by a court for a reason.
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) March 4, 2017
In other words, these ex-Obama officials are subtly confirming the accuracy of the reporting—that the Obama administration did in fact conduct surveillance on Trump Tower in October and post-election, and that the administration originally sought a warrant back in the summer of 2016—but they say the president himself and the Obama White House was not involved in the decision.
What’s more, Philip Rucker, the White House bureau chief at the Washington Post, says the same thing as these former Obama officials: That the Obama spokesman’s statement does not deny the existence of wiretaps on Trump Tower, only that Obama himself and the Obama White House did not approve them if they did exist.
The Obama statement does not say there was no federal wire tapping of Trump Tower. It only says Obama and White House didn’t order it.
— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) March 4, 2017
The outrage from the media and the Democrats appears to be standard hatred of Trump. The president forced a set of facts into the news cycle that was already previously public but framed in a way that puts his political opponents and the establishment media on the defensive. This appears to be the calculus: either the wiretaps exist, as Trump suggests, and the president will use them to bludgeon the Obama administration and the media for impropriety and overreach; or, there were no wiretaps, which suggests the previous administration had no reason to suspect Trump colluded with a foreign government.