Chuck Ross, DCNF
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is asking President Donald Trump’s pick for CIA director whether she was aware of surveillance conducted against any presidential candidates in the run-up to the 2016 election.
“I write to ask you for clarification on some of the practices of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), particularly in relation to surveillance during the 2016 presidential election,” Paul wrote to Gina Haspel, acting CIA director.
“Under what circumstances does the CIA trail, monitor, or otherwise collect information on the communications and movements of U.S. presidential candidates, both domestically and while they are traveling outside of the United States?” The Republican asked.
Haspel has faced a tough battle through the confirmation process, largely because of her past work at a CIA site where terror suspects were tortured. Paul and his fellow Republican, Arizona Sen. John McCain, have said they oppose Haspel’s confirmation. But she is likely to be confirmed anyway since several Democrats have said they will support her.
During her confirmation hearing, Haspel has been asked repeatedly about her stance on torture, but she has not faced questions about surveillance conducted against the Trump campaign.
John Brennan, CIA director under former President Obama, has acknowledged the CIA provided intelligence about Trump associates to the FBI. It also recently came to light that a top secret source provided the CIA and FBI with information about Trump associates. That information has also made its way to special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government.
In his letter, Paul asked Haspel whether she or anyone else at the CIA was aware of any U.S. government agency or non-governmental agency being involved in the collection or monitoring of communications of any of the major 2016 presidential candidates while they were traveling outside the U.S.
Paul is asking for information on Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, John Kasich, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and himself.
Paul also wants to know if the CIA “cooperated” with any foreign intelligence services to spy on Trump over the past five years. The Republican also asked whether the CIA or any other U.S. government agency conducted surveillance on Trump during his visit to England just before the election.
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