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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

 
Would Trump use the NSA for political purposes?

by digby












Of course he would. To all those who insist that Clinton is worse on issues of civil liberties and privacy than the authoritarian, strongman demagogue, wake up. His calling for the Russians to release Clinton's "missing emails" shows that he's even more Nixonian than Nixon and his buddies were when they broke into the Watergate --- and did a whole lot more with the powers of the presidency to punish his political opponents.

Consider this:
[Lewandowski] also shook his head when asked about a report of dissension within the lean and efficient team, including fears among the staff that some of the campaign’s Trump Tower offices were bugged with listening devices.

“This is media hype,” he said...

As for the reports of people fearing they were targets of bugging, he said, “I think that’s a lot of speculation I don’t think that’s going on at all.”

Mr. Manafort, appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” also gave a less-than-definitive denial about the bugging.

“Do I believe it?” he said. “No, I don’t believe it. But I don’t know who said that.”
This:
Earlier this month, following a protracted dispute with Trump and his co-owner, casino billionaire Phil Ruffin, the National Labor Relations Board officially certified a union for over 500 staff at the hotel. Workers argue they have been subjected to surveillance, intimidation, and unlawful dismissal as they have sought to organize.
This:
At Mar-a-Lago, the Palm Beach resort he runs as a club for paying guests and celebrities, Donald Trump had a telephone console installed in his bedroom that acted like a switchboard, connecting to every phone extension on the estate, according to six former workers. Several of them said he used that console to eavesdrop on calls involving staff.

Trump’s spokeswoman Hope Hicks responded to written questions with one sentence: “This is totally and completely untrue.”

The managing director of Mar-a-Lago, Bernd Lembcke, did not respond to emails. Reached by phone, he said he referred the email query to Trump’s headquarters and said, “I have no knowledge of what you wrote.”

At the 126-room Mar-a-Lago mansion, Trump keeps an apartment set aside for himself and his family, and rents the rest out to guests and members.

BuzzFeed News spoke with six former employees familiar with the phone system at the estate. 
Four of them — speaking on condition of anonymity because they signed nondisclosure agreements — said that Trump listened in on phone calls at the club during the mid-2000s. They did not know if he eavesdropped more recently.

They said he listened in on calls between club employees or, in some cases, between staff and guests. None of them knew of Trump eavesdropping on guests or members talking on private calls with people who were not employees of Mar-a-Lago. They also said that Trump could eavesdrop only on calls made on the club’s landlines and not on calls made from guests’ cell phones.

Each of these four sources said they personally saw the telephone console, which some referred to as a switchboard, in Trump’s bedroom.

None of the four supports Trump’s bid for president. All said they enjoyed their time working at Mar-a-Lago.

Two other sources — the tycoon’s former butler and Mar-a-Lago’s former security director — said the console in Trump’s private apartment merely made it easier for Trump to call other rooms in the estate. They said their former boss either did not or would not listen in on calls. They both support Trump for president.

Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, is running at a time when Americans are increasingly concerned about surveillance — both by the government and by their employers. Some of his own campaign staff feared that their offices in Trump Tower in New York might be bugged, the New York Times reported last month. 
Trump has backed the NSA’s bulk collection of metadata, telling conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt that “I tend to err on the side of security.” Trump added, “I assume when I pick up my telephone people are listening to my conversations anyway, if you want to know the truth.”

And then there's this:
On Thursday evening, Trump faced questions from NBC News about creating a database system to track Muslims, which Trump said at the time he “would certainly implement.” On Friday, Trump attempted to distance himself from the comments, saying in a tweet, “I didn’t suggest a database-a reporter did.”

At a campaign rally Saturday at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex, Trump explained that he was originally “referring to the wall [along the Southern U.S. border], but database is OK. And watch list is OK. And surveillance is OK.”

He continued: “If you don’t mind, I want to be, I want to surveil. I want surveillance of these people that are coming in, the Trojan horse, I want to know who the hell they are.”

I can't find any evidence that Clinton used the powers of the government to spy on her employees or her political enemies. It's possible that she will do it, of course. But there's no doubt that if he can do it, he will. Buh-lieve me.

.