Since the first arrests began in Donald Trump’s Russia scandal, we’ve seen scattered reports in the media about Trump’s various advisers becoming increasingly paranoid toward each other. Who’s already cut a deal? Who’s wearing a wire? Who can they still trust? This kind of chaos leads to dysfunction, and it may drive some of them to cut plea deals all the more quickly. Now the FBI has just given Trump’s people a whole new reason to be paranoid.
FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before Congress today, as he does from time to time. Very little useful information came out of it. The Democrats on the committee don’t want to taint the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation, now that it’s in the hands of Robert Mueller. The Republicans on the committee tried to use today’s hearings to spin yet more imaginary controversies about Hillary Clinton. But there was one useful moment in which Wray acknowledged the FBI is using FISA eavesdropping warrants in the Trump-Russia investigation.
This is not necessarily news. It’s long been known that there were multiple FISA warrants against Paul Manafort for a prolonged stretch of time before his arrest. Wray is probably just referring to that. Even if there are new FISA warrants in place against other Trump-Russia players, the FBI wouldn’t be admitting to it. But that doesn’t change the fact that today’s headlines will read something along the lines of “FBI Director confirms FISA warrants are being used in Trump-Russia scandal.”
That’s going to cause Donald Trump’s White House advisers to stop and ask themselves just what other FISA warrants might be underway. Has their colleague’s phone been tapped? Has their own phone been tapped? This is how paranoia sets in. Even though the FBI was probably just talking about Manafort today, Trump’s people have no way of knowing that for sure. If anything they’ll begin acting even more paranoid toward each other, as the walls cave in on them all.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report