Surveillance

Trump Team Was 'Incidentally' Snooped on Post-Election, Says GOP Intel Chair Devin Nunes

Meanwhile, guess which side is now assuming surveillance equals guilt?

|

Nunes
Shawn Thew/EPA/Newscom

Republican House Intel Chairman Devin Nunes (R-California) held a rather unusual press conference this afternoon to declare that he had received information that the feds did indeed secretly collect and disseminate private info from and about Trump's transition team post-election.

To be clear, Nunes (a Trump supporter) said that whatever private information was collected during surveillance was "incidental." This likely means that the team members were not direct targets of federal surveillance but were in contact with people who actually were targets, and whatever happened during conversations or communications got swept up in surveillance. The actual targets could be people under federal investigation, but they could also be any foreign power the government is keeping an eye on.

The natural inclination here is to assume this is part of the whole dust-up over ties between the Trump administration and Russia. Funny there's news on that today, too. Nunes wouldn't say a whole lot about what was happening (which makes his run to the media a little weird) but insisted that this incidental surveillance was not connected to Russia at all. He also seems to think the incidental collection itself was "legal," but isn't entirely sure.

It seems as though the press conference is intended to bolster the argument coming from some Republicans that the problem here is the leaking or spread of information within the intelligence community. Nunes said that some names had been "unmasked" in intelligence reports that had been distributed internally. This means that, much like what might have happened with former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, the names of Americans who had been swept up in this surveillance may have gotten into the hands of intelligence community workers who weren't supposed to have them.

Nunes is a mass surveillance supporter, and so he's trying to thread a needle here. He wants to present Trump and Trump's staff as having their privacy violated by leaks while not wanting to suggest there's a problem with the amount of surveillance that takes place.

But there is a definite "Switch places, everybody!" mentality on surveillance authority now that Trump and Trump's people have been targeted. This tweet by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) is quick to say that the surveillance must have been connected to an investigation or influence by a foreign power. Lieu, however, is also a big opponent of mass unwarranted surveillance, and you'd think he'd be a bigger skeptic than this. Getting your private data and information "incidentially" collected in surveillance is not and should not be treated as evidence of wrongdoing, and that was partly the point of efforts to restrict federal authorities collecting whatever they could.

In all likelihood, mass unwarranted surveillance played absolutely no role in this snooping, and the intelligence officials had secret warrants though the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Courts. But for somebody who sits on Congress' Fourth Amendment Caucus to jump in the direction that suggests an assumption of guilt on the basis of it being a political opponent is a problem.

Clearly, there will be a lot more to come on this issue. Watch a bit of the presser with Nunes below. Trump has said he feels "somewhat vindicated" (according to the Associated Press) about his insistence that he had been wiretapped. (UPDATE: Rep. Adam Schiff, ranking Democrat on the Intelligence committee, responds here to the oddness of Nunes running to the press):

NEXT: Feds Indict Philly DA Seth Williams on Charges of Corruption, Stealing from His Mother

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. In all likelihood, mass unwarranted surveillance played absolutely no role in this snooping, and the intelligence officials had secret warrants though the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Courts

    Which would mean Obama was using intelligence assets to spy on his political opponents. That ought to be a big deal but of course won’t be because TRUMP!!

    1. That’s not how it works, but do you people not get that if Trump Tower was being monitored it means people there were talking to Russians and possibly committing treason?

      He shouldn’t want to prove himself right in this case, but I guess he’s just that fucking crazy.

      1. Since when is it treasonous to phone Russia?

        1. Since 11/8/16, DUH!

        2. Maybe it was innocent. But it probably wasn’t.

          Keep your eye on the point if you can.

          1. Probably wasn’t based on what?

          2. Probably wasn’t based on what?

      2. What is the treason here? And you know that in order to monitor trump tower that doesn’t necessarily mean it was russians or anything nefarious

        Anyway a week ago you said claim was made up. Which is it?

        1. I did? So you like Trump have such a baby brain that the only issue is “I’m right you’re wrong neener neener!”

          He shouldn’t want to be right about this. All I want is an explanation of the logic, such as it may be.

          1. What is the neener neener thing in reference too. I am confused

            What are you expecting to be there that constitutes treason?

          2. Hey Tony, aren’t the Russians our friends now? The Lightbringer had Hilldog reset relations with them. You can’t men’s to tell us that your chocolate savior FAILED at something as president?

            1. Your pathetic Hannity farts won’t be enough to save your orange hero.

      3. “…means people there were talking to Russians and possibly committing treason?”

        “Treason
        The betrayal of one’s own country by waging war against it or by consciously or purposely acting to aid its enemies.”
        Stupid shit…

      4. Seriously, Tony, does having your head shoved that far into your asshole make it hard to walk?

      5. Tony, treason is the province of the left. Since you all hate America and the constitution anyway. For the rest of us, calling Russia isn’t a big deal.

    2. FACT: Here we have an example of an American citizens name being included on intelligence reports, and having that information cycled through the alphabet soup of the administrative state, and finally those conversations were predictably leaked. NONE of the above things are ‘supposed’ to happen, yet all of them did.

      How did such a thing occur? Oh, that’s right, the Obama administration changed the rules to enable exactly this kind of thing. Foreseeable consequences are not unintended consequences people. Because that person was part of a campaign team, and perhaps the President elect himself, it makes this even worse because it’s certain this is happening to everyone else in direct violation of the ‘intent’ of the program. (Absolutely predictable violation, by the way, which is why most of us were always against the deep state in the first place.)

      It is undeniable at this point that the mass collection of phone records is not private, and does in fact scoop up data on American citizens even if those conversations have absolutely no bearing on national security what-so-ever. The fact that this isn’t even being talked about is truly disheartening.

      We should all be aware of the fact that this program will absolutely be used by both parties to target their political enemies, which is why the program won’t ever go away.

  2. In an ideal world, there would be bipartisan realizations that this type of surveillance is out of control. In our world, Trump will do exactly what Obama and Bush did, and believe that it is totally okay when they do it.

    1. And the two Teams will continue to switch positions, back and forth, dependent solely on whether their Team is in power, without even a hint of shame.

  3. “I’m holding this press conference to announce to you all that I have no comment. Thank you.”

    1. Whither thou, R. Budd Dwyer?

    2. Better than Dianne Feinstein’s press conference during the Gorsuch hearings to announce that she looks out for The Little Guy.

      1. That’s her nickname for her penis.

        1. I call mine Stan. Stan Dup.

  4. It is gone from “we never did this” to “we may have incidentally you know just kind of accidentally done a little”. They were spying on Trump. Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional.

    1. But it was only because Trump’s buddies were talking to those evil Russkies. I hate Putin and Russia as much as anybody, and I still think they are more dangerous to the world order than China, Iran, or North Korea, but we have reached pure Red Scare/Cold War hysteria. Some actual journalists are questioning Comey’s allegiance.

      If Comey is somehow under the influence of the Russians and Flynn is some evil Russian spy, then why did Obama appoint them both? This obviously means Obama’s a secret Russian. He created the Muslim rumor himself to distract from the real truth.

      1. I have doubts that Russia is worse than China. Both are rather terrible. Don’t see why we’d prefer one over the other.

        1. Hard to say. They’re both shitty neighbors. Russia hasn’t mowed or weeded its lawn in minus, and China doesn’t clean up after itself when their dogs shit in America’s yard.

    2. They were spying on Trump.

      Let’s be real, they’re spying on everybody. Trump happens to be part of everybody.

  5. Three things, Shack Attack

    (1) Why no article about Manafort and his Russian connections? I saw that you linked to it, but are you going to write about that too?

    (2) Isn’t the bigger issue that American citizens had their identities unmasked here and not necessarily the spying, if authorized by the FISA courts?

    (3) Good article

    1. The new Manafort revelation is from 2005. Weren’t we trying to be friends with Russia then? Both Bush and Obama trusted Russia way too much and tried to better relations, right up until the Crimea invasion. Is what Manafort did for Russia any different from what John Podesta did for the Saudis? Is he uniquely corrupt or is this typical DC sleeze? I honestly don’t have any idea, and trust nobody to tell me the truth.

  6. I’m interest in how this could or might be tied into anything Obama did – like having the names unmasked.

  7. Oopsie!

    Deep State snoopsied on the President!

    Because that’s what a representative democracy looks like.

  8. Why is the President relying Congress to tell him if there was a conspiracy to spy on his campaign?

    The President should be the one person with the ability to determine whether this actually occurred. It just seems crazy that Trump is waiting on a far removed investigative body with limited security clearance to discover the truth when he’s the Chief Executive and should have access to anything the Nunes could ever request and more.

    This and more leads me to believe this isn’t about searching for information but instead it’s about creating political theatre to muddy the waters and distract from the Russian investigations.

    1. “This and more leads me to believe this isn’t about searching for information but instead it’s about creating political theatre to muddy the waters and distract from the Russian investigations.”

      Folks, give hole a hand! All we need now it the guy on the grassy knoll!

  9. I’ve come here because I need this question answered once and for all. Perhaps John can take it. What, exactly, does Trump win if he proves his communications were monitored?

    Is it really just the birther thing all over again? He’d rather be seen as a traitor than getting something wrong?

    1. What would make him a traitor? How do you know there is something there?

      1. He doesn’t. Its just part of his continuing meltdown. Now anyone under surveillance is a traitor. A traitor to what we don’t know, but a traitor nonetheless.

        Keep in mind that Tony probably giggled along with the rest of the proggies when Obama, Hillary, and Kerry laughed at the notion that Russia was a threat 5 short years ago. Now, simply speaking to Russians is treason.

        1. My how quickly you turn that exaggeration dial to suit your purposes.

          Trump owes his election to Russian intelligence meddling. They’re also blackmailing him and he has untold amounts of money in shady and illegal deals with Russian oligarchs. It’s not treason because it’s Russia, it’s treason because it’s fucking treason.

          1. Yes, because the voters in WI and MI clearly told the exit polls that the Podesta emails changed their vote. It had nothing to do with Hillary not campaigning in either state.

            The Russians are also responsible for the 900+ seats the Dems lost under Obama.

            But keep making tinfoil hat accusations with ZERO evidence.

            1. And you by all means keep defending Trump. There’s absolutely no chance that’ll be a source of embarrassment for you in the future.

              1. Tony you sound like a birther to be honest. That isn’t defending trump…it is just pointing out your nuttery

              2. After eight years of Obama, the bar is awfully low.

      2. I will once the investigation is complete.

        1. So why are you making claims about treason when you don’t have any proof of treason?

    2. If Drumpf proves his communications were monitored he’d have been successful in getting reason.com and Republican assholes to forget that his claim was that Obama wire-tapped Drumpf Tower.

      1. Damned|3.22.17 @ 7:03PM|#
        “If Drumpf proves his communications were monitored he’d have been successful in getting reason.com and Republican assholes to forget that his claim was that Obama wire-tapped Drumpf Tower.”

        Ah, poor little loser…

      2. Ohhh you get your political views from Hbo too? Can we be bffs?

    3. Tony|3.22.17 @ 4:46PM|#
      “I’ve come here because I need this question answered once and for all. Perhaps John can take it. What, exactly, does Trump win if he proves his communications were monitored?”

      He doesn’t win anything.
      You and the rest of the losers lose once again after screaming that TRUMP IS A POPPYHEAD WHO NEVER GOT SPIED ON for the last several weeks.

    4. That one can be surveilled and be innocent seems to be a foreign concept for you. Odd.

      Do you support the Fifth Amendment? You wouldn’t if you had nothing to hide, right?

    5. If you are talking to foreigners that the IC is interested in, your calls are monitored. Doesn’t matter if you are president elect, obviously. The surprising thing would be if Trump and his people didn’t realize that all along. Do they think they are special exceptions? That wouldn’t surprise me.

      1. “That wouldn’t surprise me.”

        I’m sure.

        1. JFC, the retard troll patrol from DU is now showing up in shifts….evidently Soros hasn’t run out of money just yet.

  10. If you want to monitor someone and not leave a trail that you actively, illegally monitored them just monitor everyone who that person talks to. Yep it was incidental thus legal

    According to every comment on libs sites ” of course they are monitoring them all since they are all crooks” but you said they weren’t being monitored, but now you say of course they were???? it can’t be both which is it?

    1. Um, no. The fact is that foreign officials are routinely and legally under surveillance. If anyone talks to the ones under surveillance, their conversations will be heard.

      It is not the same, no matter how much you want to suck Drumpf’s dick, as “Obama wire-tapped Drumpf Tower”

      1. “It is not the same, no matter how much you want to suck Drumpf’s dick, as “Obama wire-tapped Drumpf Tower””

        Sucking the hag’s ass, are you>

  11. Huff Post take on this is that he revealed to Trump team that they are bing investigated. interestingly enough that is a valid point If and only If Trumps people were a part of a crime and not just talking to people who are being monitored. Not everyone who talks to people who are being monitored are necessarily engaging in criminal activity.

    1. Exactly…it is reds under the bed

  12. At least this is putting overreaching surveillance back in the forefront. Like when comey lied in 15′ about the meta data collection.

    Now, will we the American people give a crap this time? Will anybody but the libertarians really speak up?

    1. Wasn’t it Clapper who lied about that?

      1. Not really lied. He just gave the “least untruthful answer” he could give without telling the truth. Or something like that.

  13. No, meanwhile guess which side is pooh-poohing what they called a constitutional crisis.

    The same racist side who is yet to apologize to the black guy for his birtherism, and his slanderous lie that his Drumpf tower was tapped

    And guess which side reason.com is desperate to shield?

    1. Delusional.

      1. Yes, correct, the delusional side.

        1. Tony|3.22.17 @ 11:24PM|#
          “Yes, correct, the delusional side.”

          Gee, shitbag, Hoping to show up late and ‘win’ with your conspiracy bullshit?
          Hint: You LOST, loser. Get over it. And fuck off.

  14. There is a lot of word play going on here. TPTB are carefully crafting statements that allow the media to jump to the proper conclusions. No big surprise about that, except that it is so blatant. And h/t for pointing out the principals over principles of these hack politicians and media whores. These people are twisting themselves into pretzels right before our eyes.

  15. Wasn’t Trump under Secret Service protection. The SS was certainly susveilling Trump Tower. And didn’t SS report to Obama. So this is obviously true.

  16. It is almost amusing how the president, and to bail out the president, his allies are almost doing more to stoke the fires that there was some sort of relationship beyond the usual than any actual evidence. Likely there’s nothing illegal or problematic there, but simply a cozier than normal relationship, but the oxygen that keeps this fire burning comes straight from the White House more than it does from the opposition.

    1. josh|3.23.17 @ 12:11AM|#
      “It is almost amusing how the president, and to bail out the president, his allies are almost doing more to stoke the fires that there was some sort of relationship beyond the usual than any actual evidence. Likely there’s nothing illegal or problematic there, but simply a cozier than normal relationship, but the oxygen that keeps this fire burning comes straight from the White House more than it does from the opposition.”

      Keep the shiny side of the tin foil on the outside.
      And fuck off.

      1. Are you implying that you’re on Trump’s side? You are the 30%?

        I’m sure that’ll work out for you.

  17. Lieu’s statement doesn’t accuse Trump or his people of anything that I can see.

    1. That’s because you’re fucking blind, dipshit.

  18. Russia. Russian. Soviet. Putin.
    Now that I said it………
    And as an unnamed source……….
    And I speak, as an unnamed source, with the highest levels of Russian intelligence daily.
    Daily.
    Vlad and I are planning a 4th of July cookout at his Black Sea Dacha.
    And since I said it, especially as an unnamed source, it is true.
    And not my real name, I had my Russians buds hack this poor guys creds into this page to post this.

  19. If Trump called Russia could it have been any more secretive and underhanded as this?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsFR8DbSRQE

  20. my best friend’s mother-in-law makes 69 every hour from home and she has been out of a job for three months. the previous month her earnings was 20887 just working on the internet 2 hours per day. see this page

    ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, http://www.moneytime10.com

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.