- The Washington Times - Friday, September 22, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

James Clapper, former director of National Intelligence, made a rather astonishing admission during a CNN interview about the truth of Paul Manafort’s wiretapping.

He said, in answer to a question from host Don Lemon, that it’s “possible” President Donald Trump could’ve been captured on audio during the federal wiretapping of Manafort.

It’s not the content of what Clapper said that’s astonishing. That’s just common sense; that’s just speaking the obvious. Manafort, after all, maintained a residence at Trump Tower at or around the same time he was reportedly being tapped by feds. Chances are he ran into Trump on at least one occasion and engaged in a conversation — a conversation that went straight into the feds’ ears.

No, what’s astonishing is that a member of the intel community — well, former member, to be technical — and a high-ranking one at that, would actually admit the president’s voice could’ve been caught by wiretap. 

We all knew it. It’s just nice to know a face of the fed knows it, too.

“It’s certainly conceivable,” Clappersaid, when asked about it. “I wouldn’t want to go there, but I will say it’s possible.”

Manafort’s wiretapping, according to CNN, came after federal authorities went to a FISA court — a.k.a. secret court — and asked for a warrant to conduct surveillance on him to get to the root of his Ukraine dealings. That FISA warrant didn’t turn anything up. So after a time, the feds asked for another to wiretap Manafort, and the FISA court — a.k.a. secret court — said yes again. So what did feds get for their secret surveillance?

Still don’t know.

But Clapper, as a quick side note, is the same guy who told a “Meet the Press” audience back in March that his intelligence community — the one he oversaw under Barack Obama — never wiretapped Trump or Trump campaign officials. He also said he would’ve known if another law enforcement agency, like the FBI, had obtained a FISA warrant to conduct surveillance on a member of Trump’s campaign.

Trump, meanwhile, came out in March and claimed his Trump Tower had been wiretapped by feds. Hmm — things that make you go hmm.

And now Clapper’s admitting Trump’s voice could indeed have been captured on wiretaps targeting Manafort.

It’s certainly not a smoking gun — but all this secret court-slash-secret wiretapping of American citizens is becoming a bit squeamish to digest. These are innocent American citizens we’re talking about, remember. Manafort’s not been charged with any crime — not suspected of any crime that the American public’s been let in on, at least. And yet, the federal government is tap-tap-tapping away at his conversations, some of which may have indeed roped in discussions with Trump. If any lessons can be learned in all this mess, it’s this: The government cannot be trusted. But once again, that’s simply speaking the obvious.


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