So where did President Trump's bombshell accusation that his predecessor tapped his phones come from? The White House tells the Fact Checker blog at the Washington Post that he's relying on reports "from BBC, Heat Street, New York Times, Fox News, among others.” After an analysis, the Post finds that the two most important ones are from the right-leaning Heat Street and the BBC. (Other reports have cited an article at Breitbart News, but it relies on the Heat Street piece.) The two articles say that US intelligence officials went to the FISA court (which deals with intelligence matters) because they wanted to investigate possible activity between two banks in Russia and a computer server in Trump Tower (which, to make matters more confusing, might actually be located in Philadelphia). Excerpts:
- Heat Street: “Two separate sources with links to the counter-intelligence community have confirmed to Heat Street that the FBI sought, and was granted, a FISA court warrant in October, giving counter-intelligence permission to examine the activities of ‘U.S. persons’ in Donald Trump’s campaign with ties to Russia.”
- BBC: It says Justice Department lawyers went to the FISA court. "Their first application, in June, was rejected outright by the judge. They returned with a more narrowly drawn order in July and were rejected again. Finally, before a new judge, the order was granted, on 15 October, three weeks before election day."
The Fact Checker's assessment? Even if the stories are accurate, and that hasn't been confirmed, they do not say that President Obama was behind the request. Plus, they involve a computer server, not the tapping of phone lines. And, finally, they "do not back up the administration’s revised claim of politically motivated investigations." As a result, Trump gets the blog's worst rating of Four Pinocchios. (Click to read the full piece
, which analyzes all the articles in question.)