Be careful of what you ask for. In the latest attempt to draw attention away from all things Russian-related involving Donald trump, the president is accusing former president Barack Obama of having Russian ties and is calling on Congress to investigate his wiretapping claims. What Trump fails to understand or is hoping people will overlook is that it’s not the fact that U.S. government officials will have interactions with Russians and other foreign authorities. It is the suspicion behind Trump and his associates’ possible relationships with Russia stemming from intelligence agencies’ findings of the Kremlin’s interference with U.S. elections pointing in Trump’s favor.

Where’s the beef?

While the Trump administration has yet to provide evidence of Obama’s ordering wiretapping of Trump Tower, experts have clearly stated that no President of the United States can have phones tapped without crossing a legal line. However, law enforcement agencies such as the FBI can do so with a court approval, even without Obama’s knowledge. Here are ways the FBI can have probable cause to obtain approval from the FISA court:

  • If a targeted foreign agent is on the other end of a phone call
  • FBI requests a pen register or tap and trace device

There are reports that last summer, the FBI asked for warrants to monitor people from Trump’s team who were suspected of having improper exchanges with Russian officials.

This is understandable considering the DNC hacks, Trump’s refusal to release his taxes, Russia’s meddling in the presidential election, possible bank ties to Russian banks and questions of why so many of Trump’s associates are or were associated with questionable Russians, especially oligarchs.

Criminal probes and cover-ups

Government investigators are within their rights to obtain wiretaps for criminal probes and intelligence gathering. Wiretapping evidence can yield anything from bribes to fraud, but the FISA court judge must be presented with probable cause by investigating officials. The government must also establish how an email account, phone line or computer server is being used by the foreign target.

Be careful of what you ask for.

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