This is the setup. March 4, President Trump sends this tweet:
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
On March 5, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper appeared on Meet the Press to discuss the tweet:
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Sunday denied any suggestion that Trump Tower communications were wiretapped before the election.
For the part of the national security apparatus that he oversaw, “there was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president, the president-elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign,” Clapper told Chuck Todd in an exclusive interview on Sunday’s “Meet The Press.”
When Todd asked him whether he could confirm or deny if a FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Act) order for this existed, Clapper declared, “I can deny it.”
Yesterday, CNN reported that Paul Manafort had been under FISA surveillance from 2014 to some unnamed point in 2016 when it was dropped for lack of evidence. The surveillance was renewed at some point later in 2016 and continued through to an unnamed point “early” in 2017.
Manafort joined the campaign on March 29, 2016, and was campaign manager from May 19 until August 19. From November on he was advising Trump on cabinet picks. (See Fortune’s timeline of Manafort’s involvement.)
This lying, of course, is par for the course for Clapper. He is, you recall, the guy who lied to Congress, while under oath, about the scope of the NSA’s monitoring of domestic communications.
Wyden: “I hope we can do this in just a yes or no answer, because I know Sen. Feinstein wants to move on. Last summer, the NSA director (Keith Alexander) was at a conference and he was asked a question about the NSA surveillance of Americans. He replied, and I quote here, ‘The story that we have millions, or hundreds of millions, of dossiers on people is completely false.’ The reason I’m asking the question is, having served on the committee now for a dozens years, I don’t really know what a dossier is in this context. So, what I wanted to see if you could give me a yes or no answer to the question: Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions, or hundreds of millions of Americans?”
Clapper: “No, sir.”
Wyden: “It does not?”
Clapper: “Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently, perhaps, collect, but not wittingly.”
Clapper says no wiretapping of Trump Tower. That may be true. But here is another thing Clapper said about surveillance. Under oath. pic.twitter.com/KYBaPotqtV
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) March 5, 2017
I suppose you can make an argument that keeping the campaign manager under surveillance is not keeping the campaign under surveillance but I don’t know how that works as a “campaign” is not an entity subject to a FISA order.