The House Intelligence Committee draws ever closer to determining whether the FBI improperly obtained a warrant to spy on members of President Donald Trump’s campaign team. According to a Fox News report, Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) told Republican colleagues this week that he has evidence suggesting the FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) abused their authority to surveil Americans during the Barack Obama presidency.
The House Committee’s peeling back of the layers of this particular onion may well be the reason the former president is, once again, on the offensive against Fox News. While in office, Obama frequently singled out the top-rated cable news network as being a partisan purveyor of lies and Republican Party talking points. Hardly surprising, given that Fox was the only national news outlet on television that covered stories the Obama administration would rather have kept from the American public.
Most of the establishment media ignored or downplayed several major Obama scandals, including the ‘Fast and Furious’ illegal gun-purchasing operation, the Benghazi conspiracy and IRS targeting of conservative-leaning non-profit organizations.
Obama Feeling The Heat?
It was always clear to anyone who was not part of Obama’s adoring following that he and those with whom he surrounded himself in the White House considered themselves above the law. Worse, they certainly believed themselves unconstrained by the Constitution.
It is now the Obama DOJ and its senior law enforcement branch, the FBI that is, for all intents and purposes, being investigated by the House Judiciary Committee.
Breaking the protocol of former presidents not commenting on their successors – particularly during overseas trips – Obama has voiced criticism of Trump on more than one occasion, this year. The former president may be feeling the heat of a congressional investigation that is closing in on irregular and, potentially, unlawful activities committed by the DOJ and FBI, during his presidential term.
Obama was the guest on talk show host David Letterman’s new Netflix series ‘My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.’ Interestingly, he made a point of going after the intelligence of the Fox News audience. “If you watch Fox News,” he told Letterman, “you are living on a different planet than you are if you, you know, listen to NPR.”
Fox has been following the House Intelligence Committee’s probe and has reported extensively on the growing scandal linking an opposition research firm, the Clinton presidential campaign, the FBI, and surveillance of the Trump campaign.
Little wonder, then, that Obama, whose DOJ became heavily politicized and may have abused its authority, would decide to attack the one network that continues to report this story.
The Unravelling of The FBI’s Credibility
To recap – in the most basic terms – the entire chain of investigation that has lead to Nunes’ latest disclosure: In the early part of 2016, the Trump-Russia connection theory was created by a group of anti-Trump computer researchers. That group pushed the narrative on social media platforms and brought it to the attention of the FBI, which began to investigate. The Clinton campaign, the Democratic Party, and establishment media fuelled the story in an attempt to delegitimize Trump’s run for the White House and his subsequent election victory. Influential figures connected to the intelligence community also pushed the story, while declining to produce evidence of the alleged collusion.
During the presidential campaign, the existence of a ‘dossier’ on Trump was revealed. This dossier contained information damaging to then-candidate Trump but most of it could not be corroborated and media outlets declined to publish details, despite having been briefed on its contents.
Following Trump’s inauguration, intelligence committees in the House of Representatives and in the Senate began their respective investigations into the matter of alleged collusion. The ‘Trump dossier’ or ‘Steele dossier’ – named for its author – soon became the center of attention. This unverified piece of opposition research, it was discovered, had been paid for by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign but the FBI was also aware of its existence.
Further investigation uncovered evidence that the Trump campaign had been the target of surveillance and it soon appeared that the FBI may have used the dossier to justify that operation. The very idea that one or more Trump associates may have been working with the Russians could only have been based upon surveillance of those associates. The unlawful ‘unmasking’ of the president’s National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, confirmed this. This surveillance could only have been conducted if a FISA warrant had been obtained. Connections between the FBI, certain DOJ officials, and Fusion GPS, the research firm that commissioned the Steele dossier, were soon confirmed.
Since then, the FBI itself and, by extension, the DOJ have become the main subjects of attention.Text messages between two senior FBI officials, disparaging Trump and talking about an ‘insurance policy,’ should he win the election, raised concerns. How did the Bureau obtain a FISA warrant to conduct surveillance? What evidence did it submit with the warrant application? If the dubious Steele dossier was provided as part of that evidence, what does that say about the legitimacy of the entire Trump-Russia investigation?
What Can Devin Nunes Reveal About the Obama DOJ?
Nunes plans to brief the entire House of Representatives on his findings as early as next week. Whilst speaking privately with a group of Republicans about the renewal of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Nunes told them – according to Fox News –“that sections of the law have in fact been misused by government officials to conduct surveillance of Americans.”
Simply put: The Obama Justice Department may have unlawfully spied on American citizens and, more sinister still, may have done so to influence a presidential election. Nunes will present evidence of this to the House. The establishment media will, almost certainly, ignore Nunes’ revelations. In the world of television news, only Fox will report them in detail.
Is Obama, then, trying to get out ahead of the inevitable coverage? Is he doing damage control, knowing that the investigations into the activities of his successor may eventually lead to his own door?