The drip-drip-drip of newly declassified documents related to the Trump-Russia investigation, together with recent reports that a classified leak against former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn might not have come from an unmasking request, leaves little doubt that the Obama administration weaponized federal surveillance laws to target Trump associates and undermine the incoming administration. . .
But Obama and Biden and other top law enforcement and intelligence officials need not have committed crimes to have egregiously abused their power. It now appears that Obama officials used intelligence authorities to defeat the entire purpose of the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act—that is, to do the very thing that led to the creation of FISA: spy on their political opponents. . .
Proponents of FISA likely never imagined that warrants for electronic surveillance or unmasking requests might be used by an outgoing administration to spy on an incoming one, but that appears to be what happened in the Trump-Russia investigation and the targeting of Flynn.
We’ll likely know more soon. Sens. Johnson and Grassley have since expanded their request, calling for the release of records related to the unmasking of Trump campaign affiliates by Obama officials from January 2016 to January 2017. The senators say they’re concerned that surveillance of the Trump campaign began long before the FBI launched its counterintelligence investigation, Crossfire Hurricane, which became the basis for the Robert Mueller probe and years of conspiracy theories about Trump colluding with Russia.
We don’t yet know where all this will lead, but it seems increasingly clear that the Obama administration managed to thwart the entire purpose of FISA, particularly its minimization protections, transforming them from a safeguard against domestic political spying into a vehicle for Obama to do just that. (Read more from “How the Obama Administration Weaponized Surveillance Laws to Target Trump” HERE)