FISA Warrants and Trump’s “Wiretap” Claim

So there has been a great deal about Trump’s wiretap claims in the media recently. Hardly a day has gone by since he made the claim that I don’t see a headline announcing that Trump hasn’t provided evidence. Of course, while accusing one President of ordering such a thing appears to be beyond the pale, drumming up alleged Russia ties and insinuating more without evidence is apparently fair to do to another. It would be nice if they would all STFU until there is red meat on the table. But I realize that isn’t the kind of world I live in.

Nevertheless, the issue of a FISA warrant for Trump Tower during the election cycle was reported by the BBC back in January. According to an article in Forbes, a FISA warrant was sought by the FBI in the summer of 2016 in order to investigate Trump campaign staffers’ ties to Russia on the basis of regular communications between a server in Trump Tower and one belonging to Alfa Bank, a Russian bank.

There are some specific rules revolving around the issue of FISA warrants. If a judge on the FISA Court rejects a warrant request, the requesting agency cannot go judge shopping until it gets the answer it seeks. And in this case, the request from last summer, according to reports, was indeed rejected. According to Heatstreet, the first request was rejected because it named Trump specifically. But a second request in October succeeded after it was narrowed down to concern only the server, yet the warrant that was granted allowed reading of emails and other communications concerning US persons.

Given this publicly available information, it is difficult to believe that more evidence of wiretapping of Trump Tower need be presented to be considered more than “baseless.” The FBI had a warrant from the FISA Court. The FBI was then part of the Obama Administration, and it used the warrant to read emails and other communications of people in Trump Tower.  Thus, Trump’s claim of wiretapping is far from baseless. But the question here I think that ought to be raised is: Did the FBI obtain warrants for every server in the US that was communicating with Alfa Bank, or even a few others, or was the investigation more tailored toward Trump Tower?  The 4th Amendment to the constitution does not provide exceptions for presidential candidates, and to me, it would not seem acceptable to cherry pick and use the server as an excuse to eavesdrop and rifle through Trump’s email. I might be wrong, but I sense at least a smack of abuse of power here.

But wait, there’s more to this story. I don’t believe that it is legal to disclose information gathered in such an investigation where a FISA warrant is obtained if there are no charges brought against the subject. If such disclosure it isn’t illegal, it ought to be. It is, at the very least, highly unethical.

Why aren’t the libertarians screaming about this flagrant abuse of civil rights? I look around for it, and all I hear are crickets chirping. It is all fine and good to completely dislike Donald Trump if one so chooses. But here, I see him as truly being of victim of government police state abuse, the kind of abuse no American should have to endure.