Over the weekend, President Donald Trump unleashed a tweet-storm accusing President Barack Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower right before November’s election. Since then, there’s been talk of past reports of the Obama administration seeking a FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) warrant for a Trump Tower computer server, as well as denials from former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, FBI Director James Comey, and an Obama spokesman that any wire-tapping had ever been ordered. All this talk about wire taps, FISA, and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) that supposedly granted the alleged warrant can get confusing. Enter the Conservative Review to teach the basics and clear up any misconceptions. Well, sort of. The site provided a lengthy discussion of where some of the reports began, and how FISC works, with one key error.
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
The article, bearing the headline, “FISA Explained, and How the Left is Trying to Mislead on the Trump ‘Wiretaps,'” goes into who is on the FISC, how it is different from a regular criminal court, as well as the distinction between the FBI’s counter-intelligence unit and its criminal investigations. It also discusses how “the Left” is falsely stating how FISA works, providing one tweet from David Axelrod as the main example. In the midst of this is a quote from a former U.S. Attorney who said that it might not be so far-fetched for FISA to be used to attack political enemies. The article also originally said that the President of the United States decides who gets to serve as FISC judges. This appears to imply that President Obama could have hand-picked people to do his bidding, such as go after a presidential candidate who he doesn’t like. That would be pretty horrible if it were true, except it’s not. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, not the President, appoints FISC judges.
To be fair, Conservative Review owned up to the mistake, correcting the article to say that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court appoints FISC judges, and an editor’s note at the bottom of the article says that a previous version incorrectly stated that the President makes the selections. But it’s certainly ironic, given that much of the article rails against the Left” for misinformation.