December 13, 2019
From Chris Farrell’s Op-Ed for the Daily Caller
When it comes to the unlawful surveillance on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, the most important question is, what did President Obama know and when did he know it? If we are to believe the testimony in the Justice Department inspector general’s report on FISA abuse, Obama didn’t know anything about the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.
Neither did his attorney general, her deputy, or anyone in the White House. At least not that they can recall – an expression used over 200 times in the report.
Yet against this we have the Sept. 2, 2016, text message from Lisa Page to her paramour Peter Strzok saying “POTUS wants to know everything we are doing.” True to form, the IG report goes to great lengths to argue that “knowing everything” in fact meant knowing nothing at all.
The text message first appeared in February 2018 when it was released by Congress, and later in the June 2018 IG report on bias in the FBI’s investigations leading up to the 2016 election. The message was critically important because it elevated the scandal to the White House level and dragged it into the Obama Oval Office. But the June 2018 IG report basically ignored the importance of this message, and the new report takes pains to explain it away.
The public debate about the issue goes back to the first revelations about the illicit spying, when President Trump tweeted that he “Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory.” The president was roundly mocked for this “baseless” claim, and pundits and politicians huffed mightily that such a spying operation was unthinkable. Of course, now we know many of the details of this sophisticated and falsely obtained surveillance operation.
And note the carefully worded denial that came from the Obama camp at that time. Spokesman Kevin Lewis said that it was “simply false” that the White House ordered surveillance against “any U.S. citizen” – but more to the point that “no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice.”
So this was not a denial that spying ever happened, just that Obama had nothing to do with it. It hearkens back to Obama’s similar claim made in April 2016 regarding the Hillary Clinton email investigation, that “there is no political influence in any investigation conducted by the Justice Department, or the FBI, not just in this case, but in any case.”
So who knew about Crossfire Hurricane according to testimony in the new IG report? FBI Director James Comey admitted he was kept well informed on the investigation. Deputy Director Andrew McCabe discussed it with him at regular briefings starting in August 2016.
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