In Twitter Tirade, Trump Appears to Cite Exclusive Heat Street Report on FBI / Russia Surveillance Warrant

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By Heat Street Staff | 10:30 am, March 4, 2017

President Trump on Saturday morning appeared to corroborate a report first reported by Heat Street in November that the FBI had a warrant last fall to surveil his campaign in its investigation of Trump advisors’ ties to Russia.

In part one of his early morning Tweetstorm, the president even appeared to refer to specific details of the November Heat Street report when he said that a court initially turned down a request for a surveillance warrant.

The Washington Post noted Saturday that the president was likely reacting to a Friday article by Breitbart’s Joel Pollak who cited Heat Street‘s report at the beginning of his timeline.

In the November Heat Street report, Louise Mensch reported on the existence of a secret “FISA warrant”, approved by a court, which allowed FBI agents to do electronic surveillance of Trump’s campaign and associates. According to Heat Street (and now President Trump), the FBI was first turned down by a court but was later successful.

The first request, which, sources say, named Trump, was denied back in June, but the second was drawn more narrowly and was granted in October after evidence was presented of a server, possibly related to the Trump campaign, and its alleged links to two banks; SVB Bank and Russia’s Alfa Bank.

In January, The Guardian corroborated a key part of Heat Street’s report when it wrote that the FBI had applied unsuccessfully for a FISA warrant this past summer. The BBC reported that the warrant was granted October 15.

Heat Street‘s reporting on the FISA warrant contradicted earlier reporting by The New York Times which, citing FBI sources, said that the agency did not see a clear link between the Trump campaign and Russia. The Times‘ cautious reporting was later criticized by its own ombudswoman who argued that the “Paper of Record” should have been more aggressive. She was then directly rebuked in a rare breach of protocol by the Times‘ executive editor, Dean Baquet, who called her criticisms “fairly ridiculous.”

On Saturday, The Washington Post cast shade on Trump’s assertion of a wiretap, saying there was “no credible reporting” backing him up. The newspaper went on to further debunk the idea that there was ever a FISA warrant.

“It’s highly unlikely there was a wiretap,” said one former senior intelligence official familiar with surveillance law who spoke candidly on the condition of anonymity. The former official continued: “It seems unthinkable. If that were the case by some chance, that means that a federal judge would have found that there was either probable cause that he had committed a crime or was an agent of a foreign power.”

A wiretap cannot be directed at a U.S. facility, the official said, without finding probable cause that the phone lines or Internet addresses were being used by agents of a foreign power — or by someone spying for or acting on behalf of a foreign government. “You can’t just go around and tap buildings,” the official said.

Obama foreign policy aide Ben Rhodes also sent several hot-tempered Tweets on Saturday morning denying that the Obama Administration had wiretapped anyone.

And also on Saturday, an official spokesman for former President Obama denied that his administration had ever ordered up a wiretap of Trump Tower.

In the months that have followed the election, new revelations about Trump advisors’ contacts with and ties to the Russians have poured forth almost daily, and the Russia controversy has become a major distraction during the Trump Administration’s crucial “first 100 days”. In addition to the ongoing FBI investigation, which has been ramped up, there are now also burgeoning Congressional investigations and calls for a special prosecutor to be appointed.

Throughout all this, there has been no verifiable reporting that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to influence the election. But Trump advisers’ apparent coziness with the Russians, coupled with misleading and contradictory statements they’ve made about their contacts with Russia prior to Inauguration Day, have created serious complications for Trump’s nascent presidency.

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