AP FACT CHECK: Claims of president’s defenders on wiretaps
NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump’s unsupported charge that predecessor Barack Obama had ordered wiretapping at Trump Tower has prompted Trump’s supporters to search for other examples under Obama. What they came up with falls short of doing that.
In press briefing Wednesday, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer offered as an example that Fox News Channel reporter James Rosen “had his phones, multiple phones, tapped.”
Spicer’s assertion echoed a story on the Glenn Beck-founded conservative web site theblaze.com that said “it’s widely known that Obama’s Justice Department targeted journalists with wiretaps in 2013, most famous Fox News’ James Rosen.”
The Associated Press “was also a target of the surveillance,” the web site said. Fox News Channel also said that former Attorney General Eric Holder had ordered Rosen’s personal phones and email tapped.
But Rosen, during a Fox appearance Sunday, corrected his own anchor, saying phones he used for reporting were not eavesdropped upon. Rather, Holder sought and got a judge’s permission to look through records of Rosen’s phone calls and emails from 2009 as the government sought to identify the leaker for a Rosen story about North Korea.
In a subpoena, the government labeled Rosen an “aider and abettor and/or co-conspirator.” Records from Rosen’s government-issued security badge were examined to track his comings and goings from the State Department. Rosen, and the rest of the world, didn’t learn he’d been targeted until four years later when The Washington Post reported it.
Similarly, the AP strenuously objected when the Justice Department in 2012 secretly obtained two months’ worth of telephone records of some AP reporters and editors. The government was seeking sources for an AP story about a CIA operation in Yemen that stopped a terrorist plot to detonate a bomb on an airplane bound for the United States.
Following the Post’s reports about the surveillance efforts, Obama ordered the Justice Department to make changes. In an interview later, Holder said the way he went after Rosen was a decision he wished he could do over.
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