Mar 17, 2017
Great Britain’s GCHQ intelligence agency, that country’s analogue to the National Security Agency, has emphatically denied claims that it assisted former President Barack Obama to conduct electronic surveillance on then-candidate Donald Trump.
On March 14, citing three unnamed intelligence community sources, Judge Andrew Napolitano, a legal affairs analyst for Fox News, claimed that in carrying out the alleged cyber-surveillance of Trump, “President Obama went outside the chain of command – he didn’t use the NSA, he didn’t use the CIA, he didn’t use the FBI and he didn’t use the Department of Justice – he used GCHQ.” If he had instructed the Justice Department to petition the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court, Obama most likely could have gotten a warrant for surveillance, but this would have left a record.
By using a back-channel to GCHQ for information that agency had obtained, Judge Napolitano said during his appearance on Fox & Friends, Obama would ensure “there were no American fingerprints on it.”
This account, which relies entirely on anonymous sources, is plausible, but unproven – and it was eagerly embraced by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who quoted Judge Napolitano in reply to questions from reporters about the absence of corroboration for President Trump’s claims. Spicer also admitted that the question “has not been raised” by President Trump in conversations with British Prime Minister Theresa May. The GCHQ described “Recent allegations made by media commentator Andrew Napolitano” that the agency was involved in wiretapping Trump “are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.”