A former NSA intelligence analyst poured cold water on President Donald Trump's statements that former President Barack Obama has his phone lined taped, saying the intelligence community considers Trump's charges to be a "kooky fantasy."
Writing for the Observer, ex-analyst John Schindler said that there are already enough questions about the Trump administration's ties to the Russians to warrant a full investigation, but that the president's foray into a massive conspiracy involving Obama and the highest levels of the intel community is absurd.
Calling Trump's allegations against Obama on Twitter, "the most bizarre public statements from any American president," Schindler took up what little specifics Trump provided and spoke with his contacts at the NSA who unanimously dismissed them as a presidential "fantasy."
"Let’s be perfectly clear here: The scenario painted by President Trump of his predecessor tasking the IC with wiretapping Trump Tower simply could not have happened without a far-reaching and highly illegal conspiracy involving the White House and several of our spy agencies, above all the National Security Agency," Schindler wrote. "My friends still at NSA, where I served as the technical director of the Agency’s biggest operational division, have told me without exception that Trump’s accusation is wholly false, a kooky fantasy."
Schindler, who has an extensive background in domestic surveillance, explained how improbable Trump's allegations were.
"In the first place, the White House doesn’t ask for such wiretaps, ever; such requests come directly from NSA, the FBI, or the Justice Department. Involvement of any White House in such highly classified requests would immediately set off enormous red flags in the IC and DoJ due to their glaringly political—and therefore illegal—aim," he explained.
"Having worked with a lot of FISA collection during my time in the spy business, I can state without reservation that President Trump’s accusations are so inherently implausible as to render them an absurdity" Schindler continued. "He needs to offer hard evidence for such incendiary claims or back down publicly, preferably with an apology to his predecessor, whom he has maligned without cause."
The former analyst did leave the door open to the notion that there might be wiretaps at Trump Tower -- just not ones aimed specifically at Trump and none involving Obama.
"It’s very plausible that NSA and other spy agencies intercepted Kremlin communications which might have incidentally involved associates of our current president," he explained. "But neither Donald Trump nor his surrogates were being spied on as themselves. If they didn’t realize their shady Russian friends might be considered foreign intelligence targets by NSA and other Western intelligence services, that’s on them."
According to Schindler, if Trump hoped that his wild allegations about Obama will make the Russian contact with administration officials scandal go away, he couldn't have been more wrong.
"What’s certain is that KremlinGate isn’t going away, and the president’s bizarre efforts to make his links to Moscow a non-story have only made it a bigger one" he concluded. "Now the media is more curious than ever about Trump’s Russian connections, and no amount of chanting 'fake news' will alter that. Neither will Team Trump’s obsession with the alleged 'deep state' save them from awkward questions."
You can read the whole piece here at the Observer.