“The Obama-Biden administration secretly launched a surveillance operation on the Trump campaign.”

Discouraged workers add to the cloud over the labor market.


— Richard Grenell, former acting director of national intelligence

Mr. Trump and his supporters — like Mr. Grenell, who Mr. Trump installed as the nation’s top intelligence official from February to May without Senate confirmation to be in that role — have sought to portray him as a victim of the counterintelligence investigation the F.B.I. opened in July 2016 into Russia’s covert operation to tilt the election in his favor.

The investigation included an attempt to figure out whether anyone associated with the Trump campaign cooperated with that effort, wittingly or otherwise. In the course of that inquiry, the F.B.I. used several confidential human informants to approach Trump campaign associates to see what they would say about any advance knowledge of Russia’s hacking and release of Democratic emails. It also wiretapped Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser with many ties to Russian intelligence officials; by the time the F.B.I. applied for that warrant, the election was nearly over and Mr. Page had already left the Trump campaign, although wiretap orders permit the F.B.I. to look at any older emails in a target’s account.

The purpose of this investigation was to understand the scope and nature of an effort by a foreign adversary to manipulate an American election. Calling it a “surveillance operation on the Trump campaign” connotes trying to gain an electoral advantage, but there is no evidence that any information gathered by the inquiry was provided to the Clinton campaign or leaked to affect the vote. Moreover, saying it was launched by the Obama-Biden administration suggests political appointees launched it, but the investigation was opened by career law enforcement officials and continued under the Trump administration.



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