by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Trump has stayed surprisingly quiet as congressional investigators shed new light on the surveillance of people in his orbit, months after making unsupported claims that his predecessor wiretapped Trump Tower.
Obama administration officials attempted to identify Trump’s associates in intelligence reports through a process known as “unmasking.” Some of the classified information learned through those unmaskings may have found its way into damaging news reports. And FBI agents reportedly surveilled Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, for weeks at a time in 2016.
“To me, it’s notable that Trump hasn’t taken these reports to claim any sort of vindication,” said Alex Conant, a GOP strategist and former adviser to Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. “Instead, he’s staying silent, which hopefully means he’s listening to his attorneys’ advice and maybe learned lessons from the earlier episodes.”
Conant noted Trump may have avoided taking a victory lap after seeing the latest set of developments in the unmasking controversy because the new information is so closely tied to the investigation of his campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia.