Two news media outlets have seemed to confirm Judge Andrew Napolitano’s claim that British spy agency GCHQ engaged in surveillance of President Donald Trump, albeit with a somewhat different spin.
On March 14, Napolitano claimed on Fox & Friends that a British spy agency, GCHQ, wiretapped then-candidate Donald Trump at the request of President Obama so that Obama would avoid having any fingerprints on the operation. Napolitano insisted that he had three sources to back up the allegation.
Fox News yanked its senior judicial analyst off the air for two weeks following his revelation that caused an uproar and condemnation from the media, as well as a denial from GCHQ. Fox itself disavowed the judge’s accusation, with anchor Shepard Smith telling viewers that the network “cannot confirm Judge Napolitano’s commentary.”
Upon his return to the Fox News airwaves, Napolitano said that he stood by his original story during an exchange with Bill Hemmer on America’s Newsroom. He also claimed that additional revelations about Trump surveillance would surface.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Napolitano allegations about British spying came at an awkward time for the Rupert Murdoch-owned FNC parent 21st Century Fox, which is trying to take complete control of the London-based Sky News television network by buying the remaining 61 percent stake, a transaction needing approval from the British government. On April 7, Fox obtained approval from European Union regulators, but the deal is not yet green-lit in the U.K.
Both CNN and the Guardian now report that GCHQ did spy on the Trump team, although CNN claims that the intercepts were part of an “incidental collection.” The Guardian similarly noted that the surveillance was supposedly routine. Neither account suggests that Trump himself was subject to wiretapping, however, although spying on Trump’s inner circle could be considered the functional equivalent of spying on the president or future president himself.
Napolitano, a vocal civil libertarian and strong constitutionalist, particularly in terms of privacy, served as a New Jersey Superior Court judge from 1987 to 1995. Judge Nap, as his fans call him, is also a former law professor who has authored nine books.
Judge Napolitano recently opined that if the “unmasking” allegations about former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice turn out to be true, she engaged in espionage, Squawker reported.
In its report, CNN said today that GCHQ and other European spy agencies intercepted communications between Trump associates and Russian officials and relayed that info to the U.S. government.
“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.
The Guardian yesterday published a similar narrative about the British spying on Trump also based on leaks from anonymous sources.
“Britain’s spy agencies played a crucial role in alerting their counterparts in Washington to contacts between members of Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives, the Guardian has been told. GCHQ first became aware in late 2015 of suspicious ‘interactions’ between figures connected to Trump and known or suspected Russian agents, a source close to U.K. intelligence said. This intelligence was passed to the U.S. as part of a routine exchange of information, they added. It is understood that GCHQ was at no point carrying out a targeted operation against Trump or his team or proactively seeking information. The alleged conversations were picked up by chance as part of routine surveillance of Russian intelligence assets.”
Congress and the FBI are both investigating Russia’s alleged meddling in the U.S. presidential election to supposedly help President Trump and disadvantage also-ran Hillary Clinton. It remains to be seen if GCHQ might be engaging in some damage control ahead of the ongoing investigations by leaking an acknowledgement of Trump surveillance to the media.
[Featured Image by Richard Drew/AP Images]