Pressure on Trump as he stands by wiretap claim

Sean Spicer has flailed in attempts to explain Donald Trumps wiretap claims, while Trump continues to reassert his claims despite still producing no evidence (in public at least).

SpicerZeroIntelligence

That’s from a video of a media conference with edits shown at Business Insider – ‘CALM DOWN’: Watch Sean Spicer spar with reporters over Trump’s wiretap claims

That particular sequence went:

Spicer: Somehow, you seem to believe that you have all of this information, you’ve been read in on all of these things, which I find very interesting.

Reporter: I haven’t been read in by the FBI…but the House and Senate committees have been

Spicer: So you’re coming to some serious conclusions for a guy who has zero intelligence…ee ah…classifi…

[Laughter]

That was funny and even Spicer smiled. But it’s very ironic considering how little information Spicer has had in trying to defend the president’s accusations, and how little intelligence the President appears to have had to base his claims on.

And in his meeting with Angela Merkel Trump reiterated his claims.

Fox News: Trump stands by wiretap claim, jokes he has ‘something in common’ with Merkel

President Trump on Friday once again suggested former President Barack Obama wiretapped him during the 2016 election, joking during a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that they have “something in common.”

Trump continues to face pressure to provide evidence for his widely disputed claims that Trump Tower was the target of an Obama administration wiretap during the presidential campaign.

On the sidelines of the press conference, Trump’s Justice Department said it had “complied” with a request from several congressional committees for information relating to surveillance during the 2016 election. A high-profile hearing is set for Monday that could turn up answers on the matter, and confirm or refute certain allegations.

At the same press conference Friday, Trump also was asked about claims originally made by a Fox News analyst regarding British intelligence services.

“We said nothing,” Trump said. “All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for [the claim].”

Trump was referring to a report by Judge Andrew Napolitano, Fox News’ senior judicial analyst, charging that British intelligence services were involved in the alleged spying of then-candidate Trump.

The allegation was cited by spokesman Sean Spicer at Thursday’s White House briefing. British officials have vigorously denied the claims, and Fox News cannot confirm the allegations.

Napolitano’s claims  are still on Fox News’ website in a column:

Sources have told me that the British foreign surveillance service, the Government Communications Headquarters, known as GCHQ, most likely provided Obama with transcripts of Trump’s calls. The NSA has given GCHQ full 24/7 access to its computers, so GCHQ — a foreign intelligence agency that, like the NSA, operates outside our constitutional norms — has the digital versions of all electronic communications made in America in 2016, including Trump’s. So by bypassing all American intelligence services, Obama would have had access to what he wanted with no Obama administration fingerprints.

Fox News have added a link to the GCHQ’s statement.

In a public statement in the UK the Rt. Hon. Dominic Grieve QC MP, Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, echoed the vigorous denials:

…I should make clear that the President of the United States is not able to task GCHQ to intercept an individual’s communications.

…an individual can only be the target of interception by GCHQ under a warrant signed by a Secretary of State. Such warrants can only authorise action where it is necessary and proportionate for a valid national security purpose. It is inconceivable that those legal requirements could be met in the circumstances described.

I note GCHQ’s public denial of the potentially damaging allegations against them. This was an unusual step by the Agency, but it clearly indicates the strength of feeling about this issue, and I echo that sentiment.

See UK v Trump on GCHQ accusation.

Trump contradicted himself with “We said nothing. All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for [the claim]”. The president is saying nothing when he quotes?

“Fox News cannot confirm the allegations” – Shepard Smith said on Fox News:

Fox News cannot confirm Judge Napolitano’s commentary. Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now-President of the United States was surveilled at any time, in any way. Full stop.

Bret Baier on Fox News:

We love the Judge. We love him here at Fox, but the Fox News division was never able to back up those claims, and was never reported on this show on Special Report.

So Trump appears to be relying on claims made on Fox by one person that Fox can’t verify. Why they haven’t checked things out with Judge Napolitano?

In less important news: Tillerson refuses to rule out nuclearization of Asian allies to keep North Korea in check

“Nothing has been taken off the table,” he said, when asked whether he would rule out nuclearization of the peninsula, during the interview with Fox News.

Tillerson, who’s called the past 20 years of diplomacy toward North Korea a failure, has said the world needs a new strategy.

“Let me be very clear: the policy of strategic patience has ended. If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level we believe requires action that option is on the table”.

This may be of historic interest: US releases secret footage of nuclear bomb tests

Nothing to worry about.

UK v Trump on GCHQ accusation

The UK  Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament has issued a statement categorically refuting Donald Trump’s claim that the GCHQ assisted the President Obama to wiretap Donald Trump.


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17 March 2017

The Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, the Rt. Hon. Dominic Grieve QC MP, has today issued the following statement:

The Committee is aware of the allegations that the former President of the United States, Barack Obama, tasked GCHQ to ‘wire tap’ the now President of the United States, Donald Trump, during the 2016 US Presidential election.

First, I should make clear that the President of the United States is not able to task GCHQ to intercept an individual’s communications.

Second, long-standing agreements between the Five Eyes countries means that the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand cannot ask each other to target each other’s citizens or individuals that they cannot themselves target, or in any other way seek to circumvent their own or each other’s legal and policy obligations.

Third, an individual can only be the target of interception by GCHQ under a warrant signed by a Secretary of State. Such warrants can only authorise action where it is necessary and proportionate for a valid national security purpose. It is inconceivable that those legal requirements could be met in the circumstances described.<

I note GCHQ’s public denial of the potentially damaging allegations against them. This was an unusual step by the Agency, but it clearly indicates the strength of feeling about this issue, and I echo that sentiment.

http://isc.independent.gov.uk/news-archive/17march2017


So this makes it approximately everyone denying Trump’s accusations have any basis, and Trump has come up with approximately no evidence to support his accusations.

UK tipped off US over Russian hacking

From Missy on claims that UK Intelligence services tipped off the US that Russia was attempting political hacks.


Apparently it was the UK Intelligence services that first tipped the US off to Russia’s campaign to influence the election. The reports suggest that the UK were aware in the Autumn of 2015 that Russia were responsible for a breach in the DNC, and tipped off the US. There are also claims that Russia had attempted a similar hack in the UK in the lead up to the 2015 election by targeting Whitehall computers, however it was thwarted by GCHQ.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/07/russia-us-election-hacking-uk-intelligence

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/01/06/vladimir-putin-accused-us-intelligence-report-ordering-broadinfluencecampaign/

The question would have to be, why didn’t the US act on this information? I have no reason to believe that the UK did not provide the information as soon as they learned of it, so the US intelligence agencies would have known by the end of 2015, why didn’t they do something then?