In mid-March, Fox News senior legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano claimed that a source indicated to him that British intelligence had wiretapped Trump Tower and that President Obama had received information about those communications.
President Trump tweeted the same claim, creating an international controversy that led to Napolitano being suspended “indefinitely” from Fox News a few days later. The Judge did not back down and has stood by his claim throughout.
A new report now indicates that Napolitano may have been unfairly maligned.
CNN reported on Thursday (emphasis added), “British and other European intelligence agencies intercepted communications between associates of Donald Trump and Russian officials and other Russian individuals during the campaign and passed on those communications to their US counterparts, US congressional and law enforcement and US and European intelligence sources tell CNN.”
Remember these communications were “passed on” to “US counterparts” during the Obama administration.
Which is basically what the Judge said too.
The communications were captured during routine surveillance of Russian officials and other Russians known to western intelligence. British and European intelligence agencies, including GCHQ, the British intelligence agency responsible for communications surveillance, were not proactively targeting members of the Trump team but rather picked up these communications during what’s known as ‘incidental collection,’ these sources tell CNN.
Interesting. Because here is what caused such a ruckus in the column Napolitano wrote on March 16: “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.”
How is this much different from what got Napolitano in hot water and what CNN now claims to be true?
The CNN report on how this transpired, that private communications were unintentionally picked up by foreign intelligence, is also similar to what Sen. Rand Paul has described in his defense of Trump’s comments and criticism of the practice of “unmasking.”
“In reality, they were using basically an espionage tool to eavesdrop or wiretap” Trump aides, Sen. Paul told reporters on April 4. “It’s inappropriate, and it should be illegal,” the senator added. Politico reported, “Paul called for stronger limits on ‘unmasking people in the political process’ and suggested that the power to uncloak unnamed people could turn into a partisan weapon. Way too many people can unmask individuals,’ Paul told reporters.”
“What if I decide to unmask the conversations of my Democratic opponents?” Paul asked.
Unless I’m missing something, there’s simply no other way to look at this: Either this new CNN report is false or Andrew Napolitano was basically right all along.
So who is going to give the judge an apology?
Disclosure: I co-authored Senator Rand Paul’s 2011 book “The Tea Party Goes to Washington.”