During the waning days of the 2016 campaign, President Trump loudly complained about the government’s abuse of surveillance powers, including FISA’s Section 702, which had been used to snoop on his campaign aides’ conversations with Russian officials. Now that he’s elected, that’s all changed.
It’s not an uncommon story, but the powers Trump was so concerned were being abused before he took office are now his, and he’s demanding that they be made permanent, with members of his administration downplaying the risk of abuse, and insisting that they’d saved “hundreds of lives” through wholesale surveillance.
The talking points in favor of the extension of the section are indeed indistinguishable from those made by President Obama back when he was in power, and comes with the same cynical assurances and unsubstantiated claims of great successes resulting from the surveillance state.
This routine sort of flip-flop on an issue may be particularly conspicuous and embarrassing for the Trump Administration, however, as the reality of Section 702 being used to surveil his campaign is likely to continue to be publicized in the course of the Mueller investigation into his campaign’s alleged ties with Russia.