Attorney General William Barr told the Senate on Wednesday that he believed the Obama administration did, in fact, spy on President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Democrats and their media allies howled in outrage and derision. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that Barr “is going off the rails.” NBC News’ Chuck Todd said that Barr “gave credence to a factless conspiracy theory.” But Barr merely confirmed what is already known.
As conservative radio host Mark Levin and Breitbart News pointed out in March 2017, based solely on reporting by the mainstream media itself (using leaks from law enforcement and counter-intelligence sources), there was clearly an attempt by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) to conduct surveillance on the Trump campaign.
In the months since, new facts have confirmed that suspicion: the FBI even placed at least one informant in the Trump campaign.
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
When President Trump tweeted, in apparent response to Levin and Breitbart’s summaries of the known facts, that “Obama had my ‘wires tapped’,” the media threw a fit, accusing him of spinning a conspiracy theory.
However, the president was merely repeating what the media themselves had reported. The New York Times led its Inauguration Day coverage on Jan. 20, 2017, for example, with a front-page story that Trump aides had been “wiretapped.”
Democrats, journalists, and Trump critics in general could not deny that there had been surveillance — and indeed, many stopped trying to deny it and started arguing that it had ben necessary. After all, if the Trump campaign had colluded with the Russian government, or Russian spies had merely penetrated the campaign, it was necessary to discover what was going on. Some even cheered the spying, arguing that Trump was a “domestic enemy” of the U.S.
So the real question is not whether there was “spying,” but whether it was legitimate or not.
That is all Barr said on Wednesday: “I think spying did occur,” he explained. “But the question is whether it was … adequately predicated, and I’m not suggesting that it wasn’t adequately predicated, but I need to explore that. I think it’s my obligation.”
Indeed, if it was not “adequately predicated,” then the spying may well have been gross abuse of power for partisan purposes.
Now that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has determined that there was no Russian collusion, the spying looks even less “adequately predicated” than before. And it is crucial that Americans know what really happened. As Barr said, “I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal. It’s a big deal.”
Democrats, and especially journalists, should also want to know whether the “deep state” abused its powers. Curiously, they seem desperate even to ask the question.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.