Senators widen probe into Obama-era surveillance of Trump campaign

"It has become evident that the FBI, and possibly members of the U.S. Intelligence Community, were focused on U.S. persons affiliated with the Trump campaign in early 2016, if not even earlier."

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/FBI

A pair of Senate committees have requested declassification of additional documents pertaining to the unmasking of Americans surrounding the 2016 election.

The request has been described by one reporter as “dramatically expanding,” seeking records even prior to the FBI’s “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation which probed the Trump campaign’s non-existent ties to Russian election meddling.

A letter sent to Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, written by Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Ron Johnson and Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, reveals the nature of the request.

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Johnson and Grassley are seeking the declassification of “additional information related to the unmasking of Americans around the time of the 2016 election, but also to expand the scope of our request to include information as early as January 2016.”

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The earlier inquiry comes just weeks after former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who originally pled guilty to lying to the FBI over contacts with Russia in late 2017 after he was clearly part of an entrapment plot, had charges dropped by the Justice Department.

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President Donald Trump explained that Flynn is a “great gentleman” who “was targeted by the Obama administration and he was targeted in order to try and take down a president.”

“What they’ve done is a disgrace and I hope a big price is going to be paid. A big price should be paid,” Trump told reporters, later suggesting it was tantamount to treason. U.S. Attorney General William Barr said of the 2016 campaign: “We saw two different standards of justice emerge. One applied to President Trump and his associates and the other applied to everybody else.”

Probe Expanding

Grassley and Johnson are expanding their own investigations to include a timeframe previously not looked at more in-depth. “Based on our investigation and recent press reports, we are increasingly concerned that the surveillance of U.S. persons affiliated with the Trump campaign began earlier than the opening of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation in late July 2016,” the letter to Grenell reads.

“It has become evident that the FBI, and possibly members of the U.S. Intelligence Community, were focused on U.S. persons affiliated with the Trump campaign in early 2016, if not even earlier,” they claim.

Just last week, the Acting DNI declassified a list of Obama operatives who sought to unmask Flynn, including former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power who made the request seven times despite testifying that she could not recall doing so.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, meanwhile, is seeking subpoena power to obtain documents or conduct interviews with dozens of Obama-era officials. Graham said he wants that investigation to conclude “before the election.”

This piece originally appeared in ThePoliticalInsider.com and is used by permission.

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