Congressional Democrats and their media allies hope FBI Director James Comey will deliver a body blow to the Trump presidency by telling lawmakers Russia undermined the the 2016 presidential election and that President Trump’s claim that President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower is groundless.
But Democrats also are worried that Comey, who testifies Monday, will make other statements that could severely undermine their efforts to destroy President Trump and possibly turn the tables on them.
Since this will be a public hearing of the House Intelligence Committee, expect an endless series of self-righteous and preening questions by Democratic committee members on the wiretapping of Trump Tower charge. Democrats want this to be the lead story coming out of the hearing and will extract as many sound bites as possible of Comey debunking this charge for CNN, The New York Times and the Washington Post.
Democratic committee members will also press Comey on Russian interference in the 2016 election and contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russians but probably do not expect to learn anything new.
What worries Democrats is what Comey may say about Obama administration surveillance of the Trump campaign.
It seems likely, given former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s statement on March 5 that there is no evidence of any collusion between Trump campaign officials and Russia, that Comey will make a similar statement. If he does and also confirms the Obama administration sought FISA warrants to surveil Trump campaign staff, the hearing could take a very bad turn for the Democrats.
It has been reported but not officially confirmed that two FISA warrants were requested in 2016 – last spring and in October – to use U.S. intelligence to investigate Trump campaign staff interactions with Russian officials. The spring ’16 FISA warrant reportedly was denied.
FISA warrants to employ U.S. intelligence agencies to spy on Americans are only issued to address dire national security threats.
The standard to issue such warrants against staff members of a presidential campaign from an opposing political party should have been even higher.
In light of Clapper’s statement that no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians was found and the rash of anti-Trump intelligence leaks after the election, there are serious questions as to whether these warrants were sought by Obama officials to conduct fishing expeditions to find information to hurt Trump’s presidential bid.