While the FBI Director opposes the President, Michael Mukasey thinks Trump is right that he was spied on by the government.
The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, asked the Justice Department this weekend to publicly reject President Trump’s assertion that President Barack Obama ordered the tapping of Mr. Trump’s phones, senior American officials said on Sunday. Mr. Comey has argued that the highly charged claim is false and must be corrected, they said, but the department has not released any such statement.
Mr. Comey, who made the request on Saturday after Mr. Trump leveled his allegation on Twitter, has been working to get the Justice Department to knock down the claim because it falsely insinuates that the F.B.I. broke the law, the officials said.
A spokesman for the F.B.I. declined to comment. Sarah Isgur Flores, the spokeswoman for the Justice Department, also declined to comment.
Mr. Comey’s request is a remarkable rebuke of a sitting president, putting the nation’s top law enforcement official in the position of questioning Mr. Trump’s truthfulness.
On the other hand, a former Bush official, whom I have written about before, has a different opinion:
As The Hill reports,
Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey on Sunday said that President Trump is likely correct that there was surveillance on Trump Tower for intelligence purposes, but incorrect in accusing former President Barack Obama of ordering the wiretapping.
“I think he’s right in that there was surveillance and that it was conducted at the behest of the attorney general — at the Justice Department,” Mukasey told ABC’s “This Week.”
Mukasey, who served as the attorney general under former President George W. Bush, said he believes there was surveillance on Trump Tower after reading certain news reports.
Mukasey is right that news reports have given us a lot of reason to believe there was surveillance. But he also mentions another reason for believing Trump is right. For some reason, The Hill did not include it in their print story. Here’s a transcript via Real Clear Politics of Mukasey explaining the basis of my opinion:
I base that on news reports that you mentioned in the last spot. I also base it on kind of inadvertent blurting out by Adam Schiff that his committee wants to talk to the counterintelligence agents at the FBI who were involved in this. Now, what that means is this is part not of a criminal investigation, but of an intelligence gathering investigation.
The FBI has got two functions. They investigate crimes and they gather intelligence. They started gathering intelligence in ’08 based on guidelines that we put in place.
They tried to get – apparently tried to get a wiretap based on their criminal investigation function in June. That was turned down. They then tried to get, and got, an order permitting them to conduct electronic surveillance in October. This is October of 2016.
Mukasey also made another valuable point. In addition to reiterating that there is “nothing to prosecute” the Trump Administration for, he pointed out the timeline problem. If the Russians were the ones that hacked the DNC and John Podesta’s emails and gave them to Wilileaks (which I doubt but Mukasey seems to believe) then this was done when it looked like Trump would be “a sure loser.” Mukasey says it would be much more likely that Vladimir Putin was trying to “intimidate” Hillary Clinton as the “sure winner.”