The Obama administration’s hypocritical pretext for spying on the Trump campaign

Of course, there were also Russia hawks among Trump’s supporters, and it is not surprising that Trump has been tougher on the Kremlin than Obama was — a low bar, to be sure.

That could not have been known in the spring of 2016, when it appears that suspicions about Trump campaign advisers Carter Page and Paul Manafort prompted Obama national-security officials to begin investigating Obama’s (and Clinton’s) political opposition. The Obama administration could have been more measured. If its concerns were based in good faith rather than political opportunism, it could have dispatched the FBI to interview Page (whom agents had interviewed several times since 2013, and apparently did interview in March 2016), and Manafort (who, along with his partner, Richard Gates, was speaking with the Justice Department in 2016 about their work for the Kremlin’s favored Ukrainian political party). It could have given responsible Trump campaign officials a defensive briefing to alert them about its concerns.

Instead, the Obama administration decided to use its counterintelligence powers to spy on the Trump campaign, using at least one covert informant, electronic monitoring of communications, and other intelligence-gathering tactics. It ignored the norm against deploying such tactics against political opponents, not based on evidence of a Trump-Russia criminal conspiracy, but on speculation about the Trump campaign’s Russia contacts and Russia sympathies. Speculation by a government, an administration, and a Democratic-party nominee with their own abysmal histories of Russia contacts and Russia sympathies.