March 12, 2017
Sen. Rand Paul suggested Sunday that everyone is missing the real story behind President Trump’s tweets about being wiretapped.
Trump or his associates, the Kentucky senator speculated, may have been caught up in surveillance targeted at foreign actors.
“I think everybody has been getting this story wrong,” Paul said in an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “I doubt that Trump was a target directly of any kind of eavesdropping, but I’m not saying it didn’t happen. I think there’s a very good chance it does.
Last weekend, Trump issued several tweets alleging that President Obama tapped his calls. The White House hasn’t provided evidence for the assertion, which Obama has denied.
Paul, a prominent critic of the scope of the government’s surveillance practices, theorized Sunday that Trump’s communications, or those of Mike Flynn, the retired general and supporter who briefly served as Trump’s national security adviser before being dismissed for misleading the administration, could have been caught up in existing surveillance programs.
Wiretaps authorized under foreign intelligence laws targeted at foreigners, Paul noted, often capture them communicating with U.S. citizens — what he referred to as a “backdoor search of Americans.” When that happens, the Americans’ communications are meant to be masked, but even low-level intelligence employees can unmask them, Paul said.
“That’s probably what happened to Flynn,” Paul said, qualifying his remarks by saying that he has no inside knowledge of what happened. “They’re not targeting Americans, they’re targeting foreigners. But they’re doing it purposefully to get to Americans.”