Sen. Rand Paul on Trump’s Wiretapping Claim: ‘Everybody Has Been Getting the Story Wrong’

By Susan Jones | March 13, 2017 | 6:41 AM EDT

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) appears on "Face the Nation" on Sunday, March 12, 2017. (Screen grab from CBS)

( – If President Barack Obama wiretapped President Donald Trump, as Trump has claimed, the House intelligence committee reportedly expects the Justice Department to provide evidence of that wiretapping by today (Monday).

But Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said on Sunday he thinks that “everybody has been getting the story wrong.”

“I doubt that Trump was a target directly of any kind of eavesdropping, but I am not saying it didn't happen,” Paul told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

But the way it works is, the FISA court, through Section 702, wiretaps foreigners and then listens to Americans. It is a backdoor search of Americans. And because they have so much data, they can tap -- type Donald Trump into their vast resources of people they are tapping overseas, and they get all of his phone calls.

And so they did this to President Obama. They -- 1,227 times, eavesdropped on President Obama's phone calls. Then they mask him. But here is the problem. And General Hayden said this the other day. He said even low-level employees can unmask the caller. That is probably what happened to (Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael) Flynn.

They are not targeting Americans. They are targeting foreigners. But they are doing it purposefully to get to Americans.

Paul agreed with host John Dickerson that either candidate Trump or his associates may have been caught in a net, but not targeted directly.

President Trump, in a series of tweets on March 4, accused President Obama of wiretapping him, without offering any evidence. The accusation was met with storms of protest from Obama supporters and some skepticism from many Republicans.


Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said he has not seen any evidence that President Obama ordered a wiretap on Donald Trump during the presidential campaign:

But Cotton also said he’s seen no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, either.

Host George Stephanopoulos asked Cotton if President Trump owes President Obama an apology if the Justice Department cannot provide evidence of Trump’s wiretapping claim:

Cotton responded, “President Trump said last weekend that he wanted the Intelligence Committees in the Senate and the House to take up this matter as part of broader inquiry into Russia's activities in our political system last year. We're going to do that. I hope that we get to the bottom of all these matters and that we make all those conclusions public to the American people.”

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House intelligence committee, said he doesn’t expect to see “any evidence” that Obama wiretapped Trump:

“I agree with Tom Cotton,” Schiff told Stephanopoulos on Sunday.

“You know, there are one of two possibilities here. Either the president quite deliberately, for some reason, made up the charge. Or perhaps, more disturbing, the president really believes this.

“And here's where I think it's consequential, George. If six months from now the president should say that Iran is cheating on the nuclear agreement, if he's making that up, it's real problem. If he's not making it up and it's true, it's an even bigger problem. Because the question is, would people believe him? Would American people believe him? Would people around the world believe him? And that has real world consequences.”

Stephanopoulos asked Schiff if there would be "any consequences" for the Justice Department if they don't produce the requested information by Monday:

"Well, first of all, is there information to be produced is one question. But more than that, we're going to have an open hearing on March 20th. We're going to be able to ask the director of the FBI among others is there any truth of this? Have they seen any evidence of this? They would be in a position to have to know. And I think on March 20th, if not before, we'll be able to put this to rest.

"But I don't think anyone really has any question about this, George. The only question is why the president would make up such a thing."

Reuters reported last week that the leaders of the House intelligence committee sent a letter to the Justice Department, asking for any evidence or documents supporting Trump’s wiretap allegation, by Monday.

Reuters said it saw a copy of the letter last Thursday. The letter has not been publicly released.

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