Obama spied on Putin, not Trump

Obama spied on Putin, not Trump
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Beneath the surface of Republican politics, there is an ominous and growing trepidation that the investigation of President Trump and his associates by special counsel Robert Mueller and the FBI will result in indictments or plea bargains involving one or more Trump associates during the coming year.

My view is that the odds are 90 percent that between now and November 2018, there will be at least one major plea bargain agreement reached between the special counsel and a high-level associate of Trump and at least one major indictment and probably more resulting from the investigation that has relentlessly advanced in recent weeks.

President Trump has charged that former President Obama “tapped” him at Trump Towers, a charge that has been repeated by various critics of the investigation. The charge that Obama spied on Trump is false.


The truth is that, going back to 1917, Russia spied on America, and America spied on Russia.

In recent decades President Reagan spied on Russia. President George H.W. Bush spied on Russia. President Clinton spied on Russia. President George W. Bush spied on Russia. Then, President Obama spied on Russia.

Every leader of American democracy spied against every leader of the Russian dictatorship who attacked our democracy, as Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has attacked and continues to attack American and Western democracy today.

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In response, American intelligence and law enforcement officials have launched an equally aggressive counterattack to defend American democracy, and, if any Americans colluded or conspired with this Russian attack, to prosecute them before a court of law.

President Obama did not tap or spy against President Trump. Obama spied on Putin, not Trump, but if Trump’s voice is heard on any recording of any Russian attacking our democracy, he would have nothing to fear unless he did something legally wrong, which I am NOT suggesting. 

The same is true of any Trump associate who ever talked to any Russian in any of the unusually large number of meetings and discussions that Trump associates had with Russians who were attacking American democracy.

I believe completely there are conversations involving Trump associates and Russians who were being closely monitored by American intelligence and law enforcement long before Trump ran for president.  

The odds are very high that those conversations led to warrants being issued leading to eavesdropping on one or more Trump associates that resulted from the legal and essential American counterespionage against Russians who were attacking our democracy.  

Whether any Trump associates were ultimately targets of warrants and whether they are ultimately indicted or accept plea bargains with the special counsel depends on what they said or did in their meetings with the Russians.

If warrants were granted by independent courts and during the period when those warrants were in effect, Trump associates talked to Trump, those conversations would have been legally and appropriately swept in.

Neither Trump nor the Trump associates who may have been legally and appropriately overheard have anything to fear unless they said or did anything legally wrong.

It is obvious that special counsel Robert Mueller and his team have moved into a very aggressive phase of their investigation. The almost daily revelations surrounding the Russia scandal have begun again.

There has been news of a no-knock warrant executed against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and news that Manafort has been under surveillance for some time.

A treasure trove of new evidence surrounding the Russian attack against America through social media may or may not provide evidence of collusion and conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian attack against America.

Obama did not spy against Trump. He did exactly the same thing that was done by a long succession of Republican and Democratic presidents.  

The enemy of the American people is not the free press. It is the Russian attacks against us. We will soon learn more about what Trump and his associates knew and when they knew it.

Whether anyone is charged or convicted will depend on the evidence and the law, which is how things are done in America, unlike Russia.

Brent Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), then-chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Contributors and reached atbrentbbi@webtv.net.