What we’re seeing from Donald Trump, his administration, and even some members of his party is a calculated campaign of disinformation trying to distract people from the on-going investigation into his campaign’s possible collusion with Russian officials. They’re blatantly pushing the idea that “incidental collection,” and “unmasking” of Americans, is some huge, corruption-proving conspiracy linked to the Obama administration’s nefarious attempt to illegally monitor Trump.
Of course, this is all also linked to the soundly debunked accusation made by Trump on March 4th that President Obama had Trump Tower “wiretapped.” But make no mistake about it, nearly everything coming from Trump and his administration is complete bullshit.
In fact, all Trump’s really doing by continuing to push this nonsense is working to prove that there’s clearly something going on between him and Russia.
Let’s run down a few facts.
First, as confirmed by FBI Director James Comey early in March, these active investigations into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russian officials date back to July. Meanwhile, this “incidental collection” apparently took place a few weeks after the election, during Trump’s “transition” to the White House. So it’s not as if any sort of investigation into Trump’s campaign was triggered via some Obama-ordered surveillance. Especially considering Obama knew about the FBI investigation during the campaign — yet chose not to say much about it to avoid the appearance that he was trying to interfere with the election. So it’s not even logical for Trump or his supporters to imply that Obama had some sort of nefarious intentions linked to all of this. If that were the case, it would have made much more sense for the former president to have brought all of this to the public’s attention before the election.
Though at the heart of this is what “incidental collection” is and how it occurs in the first place.
For U.S. intelligence to monitor Americans requires a FISA warrant. For Obama to have ordered any kind of surveillance of Trump, or any American for that matter, without such a warrant being issued is highly unconstitutional and illegal. Furthermore, if the FISA court does issue a warrant allowing such surveillance, that means they’ve been presented with enough evidence to establish probable cause.
Point being, since there was no FISA warrant issued to monitor Trump’s transition team, the only way any sort of incidental collection of Trump or his transition team could have taken place is if a foreign agent whom U.S. intelligence officials were already monitoring contacted them.
You see, incidental collection occurs when American communications, such as phone calls or emails, are inadvertently collected when a foreign agent we’re monitoring makes contact with a U.S. citizen.
Which begs the question: If Trump’s transition team did have their communications incidentally collected, why were foreign agents under U.S. surveillance contacting them?
That’s the only way any sort of communication from Trump’s team could have been incidentally collected. So when Trump and his administration continue to push this idea that their communication was “incidentally collected,” what they’re really saying is that foreign agents under U.S. surveillance were repeatedly in contact with them.
Then there’s the notion of “unmasking.” What that means is the identity of the U.S. citizen whose communication was incidentally collected is included in an official report after intelligence officials determined that some sort of crime had taken place.
What usually happens when incidental collection takes place is the identity of the American citizen involved is redacted from any official report to conceal their identity. When an “unmasking” takes place, that means officials who looked at this incidentally collected information determined that something illegal was being discussed.
Of course, that means if someone linked to Trump’s transition team was “unmasked” by intelligence officials — as the Trump administration seems to be implying happened — they observed some sort of a crime in this incidentally collected information.
In other words, Trump’s continued insistence that communications from his transition team were incidentally collected, as well as that some of the people involved were “unmasked,” means:
- Foreign agents already under U.S. surveillance were contacting members of his transition team.
- This contact occurred during a time when Trump’s campaign was (and still is) under investigation for collusion with Russian officials in relation to a cyber attack against the 2016 election.
- If Trump or anyone on his team was “unmasked” by U.S. intelligence officials, that means something linked to illegal activity was discussed.
Yet that seems to be the “defense” Trump and his administration are pushing.
Don’t get me wrong, I get why they’re doing it. They know that most people who support him will buy into this this “Obama was out to get me” nonsense. They also know that the right-wing media, especially most of Fox News, will serve as a form of state-run propaganda by “validating” their misinformation. And they know that by doing all of this it’s their “best bet” to try to undermine the credibility of the very real, months-long investigations by U.S. intelligence agencies concerning possible collusion between Trump and Russia.
It seems Trump’s “plan” to protect himself is to push this idea that any and all investigations that could link him to treason aren’t credible, are part of a conspiracy against him linked to the Obama administration, and any intelligence gathered that might prove he’s a traitor was collected illegally.
When you get right down to it, if this is Trump’s “defense,” then he’s basically admitting that foreign agents under U.S. surveillance were contacting members of his transition team during a time when his campaign was already under investigation for colluding with Russians during the 2016 election. Then some of his associates were supposedly “unmasked” because, after this incidentally collected information was looked into, it was determined by intelligence officials that some sort of criminal activity had occurred.
As I’ve said plenty of times before, it’s a good thing for Donald Trump and the Republican Party that so many of the people who support them are gullible and misinformed enough to believe the b.s. they’re constantly trying to sell.
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