It would be “absolutely shocking” and a “huge scandal” if, as The New York Times reported, the FBI had a spy watching the inner workings of President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, former deputy special counsel Solomon Wisenberg said Thursday on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle.”
The Times said deep in the story, published Thursday, that “at least one government informant met several times with Mr. [Carter] Page and [George] Papadopoulos,” two former Trump campaign advisers.
If The Times report is accurate, among much else, it vindicates Trump’s claim — not long after being sworn in — that former President Barack Obama’s administration spied on his campaign against the Democratic nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“It’s absolutely shocking and very improper, in my view, that the FBI apparently penetrated and had an undercover person on the Trump campaign, and if they used the lesser standards of a counterintelligence investigation,” Wisenberg, former deputy special counsel for Kenneth Starr’s Whitewater-Lewinsky investigation of former President Bill Clinton, told Fox News host Laura Ingraham.
Although Wisenberg (pictured above, left) said that the FBI didn’t “need a criminal predicate” to open a counterintelligence investigation into Trump’s campaign, he claimed the bureau should only have opened such an “investigation of whether there was Russian espionage” if credible evidence had surfaced.
“But certainly they weren’t close to being anywhere near able to say, ‘We have some evidence of espionage by people in the Trump campaign,'” Wisenberg said. “And they never could have opened a criminal investigation based on that. So instead they used the excuse of counterintelligence.”
Wisenberg speculated that The Times may have buried the bombshell deep within its story “because they knew it was going to come out, and they’re trying to be able to say, ‘That’s old news and that’s not really a big deal.'”
Trump ignited a firestorm in March 2017 when he tweeted, “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
The tweet earned Trump widespread backlash from liberals and conservatives alike.
“Remember when Trump was ridiculed by everyone when he said, ‘I was wiretapped?’ He speaks in shorthand on Twitter,” Ingraham said. “He meant ‘surveilled.’ He was right.”
Veteran political operative Roger Stone, a longtime Trump ally, ripped the FBI for planting a spy inside the president’s campaign organization, and also for using the infamous Trump-Russia dossier, funded by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Clinton’s campaign, to obtain and then renew surveillance warrants against Page. The FBI failed to disclose to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court judge the origins of the dossier, which was authored by ex-British spy Christopher Steele.
“Not only did they use a phony, fabricated dossier as the underlying legal rationale for the spying on the Republican candidate for president using the power, the authority and the capability of the state to spy on one of the two major party candidates — an abuse of power — but now they infiltrated the Trump campaign with an FBI agent,” Stone said.
“This makes Watergate look like small potatoes,” Stone (pictured above, second from right) insisted.
Wisenberg said that “it’s shocking enough” that the FBI would even think of planting an informant inside Trump’s campaign “based on the kind of flimsy evidence that they had” at the time.
“The FISA application is disturbing enough because we know they didn’t reveal something very important to the FISA court,” Wisenberg said. “But to have a plant in the political campaign of your opponent? If you do something like that, you’d better have dynamite. And it looks like they didn’t have dynamite.”
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Fox News contributor Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at The Federalist, said it’s no longer a question “that this might indicate that they were spying. They’re saying they spied and they’re saying they did it in a pretty broad fashion as well.”
Hemingway (pictured above, second from left) noted that “there’s an additional problem with this, which is Congress is currently trying to find out information about these types of things, and the FBI is telling them that they can’t turn over that information.”
The FBI and the Department of Justice have failed to comply with congressional investigators’ requests and subpoenas for documents regarding the start of the Trump-Russia investigation.
“Regardless of what you think about Donald Trump, this is such a horrible precedent to be spying on political opponents and to be doing it with — and to be avoiding accountability,” Hemingway said.