Obama Aide Evelyn Farkas Admits Spying on Donald Trump’s Team-Mostly Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
Former Obama administration aide Evelyn Farkas admitted in an appearance on MSNBC that she helped President Obama spy on President Trump’s campaign and transition staff, and that leaked information to the press was the result of that intelligence.
Evelyn Farkas, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia and Ukraine until 2015, referenced intelligence that was collected about contacts between President Trump’s campaign staff and transition team and Russian officials during a March 2, 2017, appearance on MSNBC — but that doesn’t necessarily mean that President Obama was spying on Trump or his staffers.
American intelligence routinely monitors dispatches between Russian diplomats and private citizens in the United States. Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, for example, was outed for talking to the Russian ambassador about sanctions that President Obama ordered against Russia in November for meddling in U.S. elections because the ambassador — not Flynn — was under U.S. surveillance.
GOP Congressman Devin Nunes of California, who is leading the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation of any ties between Russia and Trump campaign officials, has conceded that this type of evidence collection is “incidental” and not illegal. However, Nunes took issue on March 22 with how the intelligence agencies had “unmasked” Trump officials in the intercepts and distributed their names, which is not protocol for incidental surveillance collected on private (at the time) U.S. citizens, Politico reports:
Nunes, himself a Trump transition member, said a “source” had shown him evidence that members of the Trump transition team had been unmasked — and that their identities had been revealed in U.S. intelligence reports. Nunes had previously raised questions about the unmasking of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, whose communications with Russia’s ambassador were intercepted by the U.S. government and whose identity was leaked to the news media.
Nunes suggested this unmasking might have been done for political reasons, saying the evidence he had seen had been widely disseminated across the intelligence community and had “little or no apparent intelligence value.” He added that he was trying to get more information by Friday from the FBI, CIA and NSA.
“I have seen intelligence reports that clearly show that the president-elect and his team were, I guess, at least monitored,” the California Republican told reporters. “It looks to me like it was all legally collected, but it was essentially a lot of information on the president-elect and his transition team and what they were doing.” He said the information he had seen was not related to the FBI’s Russia investigation.
Where does Evelyn Farkas fit into this? During a March 4 appearance on MSNBC, Farkas described efforts within the intelligence community to preserve intercepts between Trump campaign and transition team staffers and Russia that might have “disappeared” in the hands of the Trump administration. Farkas said there was “good intelligence,” and that explains the leaks from the intelligence community who wanted to make it public. However, Farkas did not indicate in her statement that the intercepts came from “spying” on Trump or his team. Her statement below that “We have very good intelligence on Russia” indicates that it was likely collected as the same type of “incidental” intelligence that Nunes described weeks later:
“I was urging my former colleagues and frankly speaking to people on the Hill, it was more aimed at telling the Hill people, ‘get as much of this information as you can, get as much intelligence as you can before President Obama leaves the administration’ because I had a fear that somehow that information would disappear with the senior people who left. So it would be hidden away in the bureaucracy, and that the Trump folks if they found out how we knew what we knew about the Trump folks, the Trump staff’s dealings with Russians, that they would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we would no longer have access to that intelligence. So I became very worried because not enough was coming out into the open and I knew there was more. We have very good intelligence on Russia. So then I talked to some of my former colleagues and I knew they were trying to also get information to the Hill. That’s why you have the leaking.”
By the end of March 2017, Farkas March 2nd MSNBC interview was being re-reported by many outlets as breaking news. Some speculated that Farkas herself was responsible for the intelligence leaks, but she disputed those claims in an interview with the conservative news site the Daily Caller, stating, “I had no intelligence whatsoever, I wasn’t in government anymore and didn’t have access to any.” However, Frakas clearly admitted in the March 2nd interview that she had, at the very least, knowledge of the intelligence.
In the end, Evelyn Farkas did not admit that President Obama was spying on Trump transition team and campaign staff. She did offer insight into how and why the intelligence committee leaked information about those contacts.