President Trump’s personal attorney Jay Sekulow serves as chief counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a conservative watchdog group headquartered in Washington. Via a FOIA request, Sekulow reports the ACLJ has received documents which show Obama officials, led by then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, had gone to great lengths to change intelligence sharing rules in the last weeks of the Obama administration.
The changes were intended to increase access to raw signals intelligence by unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats. Sekulow explains the modifications were made to “pave the way for a shadow government to leak classified information – endangering our national security and severely jeopardizing the integrity and reputation of our critical national security apparatus – in an attempt to undermine President Trump.”
The more officials who have access to classified information, the more difficult it becomes to determine accountability in the event of a leak.
According to Sekulow, the documents show that Clapper was especially “eager” for the adjustments to be made and “rushed to get the new procedures signed by the Attorney General [Loretta Lynch] before the conclusion of this administration.”
The documents reveal DNI official Robert Litt telling the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense’s Director of Intelligence Strategy, Policy, & Integration: “Really want to get this done … and so does the Boss [James Clapper].”
The ACLJ also received documents from the National Security Agency. An NSA official is quoted telling a colleague that they “could have a signature from the AG as early as this week, certainly prior to the 20th of Jan.”
We are also now aware of Director of National Intelligence Clapper’s open hostility to President Trump and intentional leaking by senior law enforcement and intelligence officials who were also hostile to Trump.
All of these facts point to a coordinated effort across agencies during the Obama administration to oppose the incoming Trump administration.
As part of the ACLJ’s Government Accountability Project and Freedom of Information Act practice, we uncovered key information about the embedded “resistance” operating within our government.
Sekulow cited a January 12, 2017 New York Times article:
In its final days, the Obama administration has expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.
On December 15, 2016 – after President Trump’s election – Director of National Intelligence Clapper executed a document titled “Procedures for the Availability or Dissemination of Raw Signals Intelligence Information by the National Security Agency Under Section 2.3 of Executive Order 12333.”
On January 3, 2017 – just days before President Trump’s inauguration – then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch executed the document, indicating her approval.
The new rules significantly relax longstanding limits on what the N.S.A. may do with the information gathered by its most powerful surveillance operations.
The first mention of these rule changes came in a 2014 New York Times article, however, it wasn’t until the final weeks of the Obama administration that they were acted upon.
Related to this was the unprecedented increase in the number of “unmasking” requests made in the run-up to the election. Over 300 requests were carried out in 2016, most of which were recorded in the name of Samantha Powers, who served as Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations. However, Powers denies she was responsible for all of them.
The ACLJ filed their FOIA request for this information from the DNI and the NSA two years ago. They currently have three additional FOIA lawsuits pending.
Sekulow’s revelation adds to the ever-growing pile of evidence indicating that there was indeed a “coordinated effort” by a shadow government which worked to undermine President Trump.