Trump Slams Controversial Spying Program His White House Aggressively Supports

Taking his cues from Fox News—once again.

Cheriss May/ZUMA

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Congress on Thursday is set to vote on whether to extend a controversial section in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which for years allowed the government to collect domestic phone records and internet communications without a warrant.

But as the White House aggressively lobbies to preserve the section and reject an amendment imposing new restrictions on the government’s surveillance efforts, President Donald Trump on Thursday appeared to undercut his administration’s position by openly questioning whether the program may have unlawfully spied on his campaign.

The confounding tweet came just hours after White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released a statement warning Congress against the amendment, arguing that it would reestablish “the walls between intelligence and law enforcement.” It also marked a return to Trump’s baseless claim that the Obama administration wiretapped Trump Tower during the presidential campaign. 

Nearly two hours after it was published, Trump attempted to get in line with his administration’s messaging with the following: 

What could possibly explain Trump’s initial contradiction? As Matthew Gertz of Media Matters noted, Trump’s tweet emerged shortly after Fox News commentator Andrew Napolitano—a 9/11 truther who was briefly suspended from the network in March over his unverified claims that British intelligence officials were spying on Trump—asserted on air that the president’s “woes” started with unlawful surveillance on his campaign afforded by the program.

Earlier on Thursday, Trump also slammed Hillary Clinton and questioned whether she had any nefarious ties to the Russian government. The familiar attack comes more than 14 months since he won the election, and less than 10 days until he celebrates a year in office.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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