SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- The Twittersphere erupted in a calamitous fusillade of angry posts on Saturday by President Donald Trump, who accused former President Barack Obama of ordering a Nixon-era wiretap on the Trump Tower offices in October. Legal experts pointed out several problems with the chief executive’s understanding of wiretapping protocols. Only a federal judge can authorize such an action, and only when a preponderance of evidence suggests criminal wrongdoing or treason -- in this case, the supposed collusion between Trump team members and operatives in Moscow. However, in a stunning revelation on Monday, undisclosed sources from the National Security Agency (NSA) verified a connection but cautioned that Trump and his colleagues may be innocent of treason. The current opinion is that the real estate magnate, in a desperate ploy to save his dwindling fortune, fell victim to a Nigerian email-type scam that originated in Russia.
The Leaks Are Coming From Inside the HouseThe tweet storm followed a more subdued appearance by Trump before a joint session of Congress, which the media hailed as a “pivot” toward a more “normalized” and “presidential” tone. But the praise was short-lived as Trump struck out with allegations of internal spying by U.S. agencies, presumably under the direction of the previous administration. Legislators, political analysts and intelligence officials all clarified that no president has unilateral authority to sanction a wiretap.
The Foreign Service Intelligence Act (FISA) of 1978 allows for the issuance of a surveillance warrant if credible evidence is brought before a judge. That means whomever requested the wiretap produced enough documentation to depict a potentially illegal relationship between Trump’s campaign and Russian officials.
Early Saturday morning, Trump fired off a few volleys based on yet unsubstantiated claims that came from Breitbart News and Mark Levin, as the New York Times reported.
“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory,” Mr. Trump said. “Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”
Mr. Trump added: “This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”
Further complicating the narrative was FBI Director James Comey’s denouncement of Trump’s conspiratorial theories. Comey, once perceived as an ally for Trump’s campaign because of his bungled handling of the Hillary Clinton email leaks before the election, asked the Justice Department to publicly reject the president’s assertions. Comey called the statements false and argued that they must be corrected. The Department of Justice (DOJ), now under the direction of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is also mired in charges of communicating with the Kremlin, failed to publish any remarks about Trump’s weekend tirade.
If Trump’s admission of detecting a wiretap is founded, a judge issued a FISA warrant with probable suspicion. And that would mean Trump implicated himself in the scandal by confirming the presence of the wire, making the president his own leaker. He would therefore have no legal recourse against the exposure. The situation recalls a popular horror trope (“the calls are coming from inside the house”), in which the president has become both predator and prey. But some experts inside the intelligence community believe Trump may be closer to the latter.
“We had sufficient cause to intercept some of Mr. Trump’s transmissions, and those of his campaign team,” one NSA analyst told the Evening Transcript on condition of anonymity. “I can verify that ongoing communications between Trump representatives and Russians did occur, in respect to a dubious business proposition. Do I think he was enlisted as a foreign agent against U.S. interests? No. It seems Donald Trump unwittingly fell victim to a 419 scam -- the most common being a Nigerian prince asking for help with frozen assets in a poorly written email.”
The 411 on 419 Nigerian Email ScamsIn the traditional 419 scam, as explained by Snopes, “A wealthy foreigner who needs help moving millions of dollars from his homeland promises a hefty percentage of this fortune as a reward for assisting him.”
The pitch, commonly linked to Nigeria, involves multi-million dollar sums, with the promise that the participant will retain a generous percentage of the funds being invested to aid the disadvantaged foreigner -- an individual boasting a prominent title or government position, such as a regent or high-ranking member of a parliament.
In 2012, the Republican-controlled House Committee on Foreign Affairs nearly succumbed to the 419 scam. Violent confrontations between Nigerian Christians and Muslims had escalated to their highest levels since the Bosnian war, according to an international task force at the time. The report cited corruption, financial mismanagement, lack of policing, lack of assistance for victims and ongoing land disputes. Although the report identified dozens of steps to resolve the issues -- all of them costly and time consuming -- a delegation of Congressional Republicans told State Department officials that an email they had received from Nigeria's rightful heir to the throne could pave a more direct and effective path to peace.
Ultimately, the disaster was averted by Democrats who refused to be duped by an obvious confidence scheme, even though one Republican spokesman lashed out that “the only Nigerian scam Americans have fallen for is electing Barack Obama.”
Two years before that, Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission accused former Vice President Dick Cheney of bribing government officials while he oversaw KBR, Halliburton’s engineering subsidiary prior to its divestiture in 2007. KBR admitted to the bribes and agreed to pay fines in the neighborhood of $597 million. Facing millions in settlement charges, Cheney pushed the envelope of irony and attempted to leverage the 419 scam for his own benefit.
In emailed messages, Cheney told recipients that he had amassed a large fortune being held in a Nigerian bank, but that he could not access the funds. In order to reach his money, Cheney asked Americans to set up Nigerian accounts where his attorneys could transfer the funds. In return, Cheney agreed to share a percentage of the wealth with those who assisted.
Now it appears that President Trump has joined the rogue’s gallery of desperate Americans seeking an easy windfall from a shady foreign dignitary.
Trump’s Ties to Russia Exposed in Email ScamFor the first time since word broke of Donald Trump’s possible business and political ties to Russia, intelligence sources have confirmed the existence of these interactions. But no agency has yet to produce proof linking the current administration to Moscow’s hacking of the election. What the NSA did divulge on Monday was an intercepted scam email.
As a business leader, Donald Trump has suffered devastating downturns. In one year alone, his lackluster enterprise lost $916 million. He then steered six companies into bankruptcy, further compounding his corporate travails. After Trump’s ouster as host of the initially successful reality show “The Apprentice,” his troubles soared. Then on February 7, a Canadian bankruptcy judged placed the Trump Tower in Toronto into receivership. Days later, retailers across the United States began eliminating Ivanka Trump’s fashion line from stores due to plummeting sales.
“It’s funny that Congress and anti-Trump demonstrators are so preoccupied with the president divesting himself of business interests,” the NSA analyst said. “At this rate, he won’t have anything left to divest. But, to be serious, his financial woes are visible. And in his panic, it looks like he got suckered into one of these Nigerian email scams, this one with its roots in Russia. Most everybody knows that Michael Flynn, Jess Sessions and Vice President Pence were all recorded on calls with individuals in Russia. What the public doesn’t realize is that these cabinet appointments, supporting Trump, were trying to help funnel money into a Russian bank account to help a fake official recover funds, in exchange for a hefty profit for their efforts.” A full transcript of the email follows.
DEAR HONORABLE TRUMP, DONALD:
FIRST, I MUST SOLICIT YOUR STRICTEST CONFIDENCE IN THIS TRANSACTION. THIS IS BY VIRTUE OF ITS NATURE UTTERLY CONFIDENTIAL AND ‘TOP SECRET’. I AM SURE AND HAVE CONFIDENCE OF YOUR ABILITY AND RELIABILITY TO EXECUTE A TRANSACTION OF THIS GREAT MAGNITUDE INVOLVING A PENDING TRANSACTION REQUIRING MAXIMUM CONFIDENCE.
WE ARE TOP OFFICIALS OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CONTRACT REVIEW PANEL WHO ARE INTERESTED IN BUILDING HOTELS AND CASINOS IN OUR COUNTRY WITH FUNDS WHICH ARE PRESENTLY TRAPPED IN RUSSIA. IN ORDER TO COMMENCE THIS BUSINESS WE SOLICIT YOUR ASSISTANCE TO ENABLE US TRANSFER INTO YOUR ACCOUNT THE SAID TRAPPED FUNDS.
THE SOURCE OF THIS FUND IS AS FOLLOWS; DURING THE UPRISING IN UKRAINE AND GEORGIA, THE GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS SET UP COMPANIES AND AWARDED THEMSELVES CONTRACTS WHICH WERE GROSSLY OVER-INVOICED IN VARIOUS MINISTRIES. THE PRESENT CIVILIAN GOVERNMENT SET UP A CONTRACT REVIEW PANEL AND WE HAVE IDENTIFIED A LOT OF INFLATED CONTRACT FUNDS WHICH ARE PRESENTLY FLOATING IN THE CENTRAL BANK OF MOSCOW READY FOR PAYMENT.
HOWEVER, BY VIRTUE OF OUR POSITION AS CIVIL SERVANTS AND MEMBERS OF THIS PANEL, WE CANNOT ACQUIRE THIS MONEY IN OUR NAMES. I HAVE THEREFORE, BEEN DELEGATED AS A MATTER OF TRUST BY MY COLLEAGUES OF THE PANEL TO LOOK FOR AN OVERSEAS PARTNER INTO WHOSE ACCOUNT WE WOULD TRANSFER THE SUM OF US$21,320,000.00(TWENTY ONE MILLION, THREE HUNDRED AND TWENTY THOUSAND U.S DOLLARS). HENCE WE ARE WRITING YOU THIS LETTER. WE HAVE AGREED TO SHARE THE MONEY THUS; 1. 20% FOR THE ACCOUNT OWNER 2. 70% FOR US (THE OFFICIALS) 3. 10% TO BE USED IN SETTLING TAXATION AND ALL LOCAL AND FOREIGN EXPENSES. IT IS FROM THE 70% THAT WE WISH TO COMMENCE THE IMPORTATION BUSINESS.
PLEASE,NOTE THAT THIS TRANSACTION IS 100% SAFE AND WE HOPE TO COMMENCE THE TRANSFER LATEST SEVEN (7) BANKING DAYS FROM THE DATE OF THE RECEIPT OF THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION BY TEL/FAX; +7 095 9230030, YOUR COMPANY’S SIGNED, AND STAMPED LETTERHEAD PAPER THE ABOVE INFORMATION WILL ENABLE US WRITE LETTERS OF CLAIM AND JOB DESCRIPTION RESPECTIVELY. THIS WAY WE WILL USE YOUR COMPANY’S NAME TO APPLY FOR PAYMENT AND RE-AWARD THE CONTRACT IN YOUR COMPANY’S NAME.
WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO DOING THIS BUSINESS WITH YOU AND SOLICIT YOUR CONFIDENTIALITY IN THIS TRANSACTION. PLEASE ACKNOWLEDGE THE RECEIPT OF THIS LETTER USING THE ABOVE TEL/FAX NUMBERS. I WILL SEND YOU DETAILED INFORMATION OF THIS PENDING PROJECT WHEN I HAVE HEARD FROM YOU.
YOURS VERY TRULY,
GEN. ARSENY TRETIAKOV
DIRECTOR PEOPLE’S CONTRACT REVIEW MINISTRY
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