Rand Paul was on This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Most of the conversation revolved around Paul Ryan’s proposed replacement for Obamacare but the subject of the probe by the House and the Senate into the whole Trump-Russia-Wiretap mess came up.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, sir, you’re also a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. WE see the president standing by that claim about President Obama. It’s caused a rift now with British intelligence over the weekend. How big a problem is this for the president’s credibility? How does he fix it?
PAUL: I think that we know one thing for sure, that the Obama administration did spy on Flynn. Now, whether it was direct or indirect, somebody was reading and taking — a transcript of his phone calls and then they released it.
It is very, very important that whoever released that go to jail, because you cannot have members of the intelligence community listening to the most private and highly classified information and then releasing that to The New York Times.
There can only be a certain handful of people who did that. I would bring them all in. They would have to take lie detector tests. And I would say, including the political people, because some political people knew about this as well.
But we need to get to the bottom of who is releasing these highly classified conversations. And if the president was surveilled, he probably wasn’t the target. I don’t know that he was or wasn’t. But if he was, they probably targeted someone in a foreign government, but then they listened to the conversation with Americans.
But our government’s talking to foreigners all the time. We can’t allow people in the intelligence committee to release the contents of that informing to the media.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you don’t believe…
PAUL: You will get a deep state. You will have an intelligence community that has enormous power if that happens.
STEPHANOPOULOS; You don’t believe President Obama ordered an illegal wiretap of President Trump?
PAUL: Well, what happens is it’s different than that. We target foreigners all the time, but they talk to Americans. They talk to the president. They talk to the national security advisers. And they’re supposed to be masked.
But there was something alarming the other day. General Hayden admitted that people all the way down to some of the lowest analysts can unmask who the American is. So, someone unmasked General Flynn and they’re a low-level analyst, we need to be looking at their computer and find out if they unmasked that conversation and if they spoke with The New York Times you have got to put those people in jail, because you cannot allow this to happen, or we will have presidents being blackmailed or national security advisers being blackmailed.
This is a huge, huge problem, bigger than anything else that’s being discussed is the fact that private conversations from the intelligence community’s perspective are being leaked to the press. That’s not like a leak that says, oh, the president watches TV in his bathrobe, this is important to national security, you can’t let it happen.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Paul, thanks for your time this morning.
PAUL: Thank you.
As frustrating as Paul is, at times he’s correct. This is one of them. So far there is exactly one felony even alleged in the investigations being conducted by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees: that is the leaking of Mike Flynn’s name in association with the FISA wire tap of the Russian ambassador.
It is not in the best interests of the nation to allow its intelligence agencies to be able to threaten and blackmail political leadership. And we are already on the cusp of that happening. Back in January, Chuck Schumer was on Rachel Maddow’s show and opined that it was unwise for Trump to take on the intelligence community:
“Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”
What Schumer was saying is that he is already afraid to call the intelligence community to task and the only reason Trump is doing it is because he doesn’t know how things really work.
Regardless of what the investigating committees find, Justice should bring in a special prosecutor to go after the people who leaked intelligence information. It would not only be good politics it would be good policy.