We begin with top two headlines from the New York Times:
- The White House scrambled to deal with an unusual rupture after suggesting that former President Barack Obama used a British spy agency to wiretap Donald J. Trump during the campaign.
- A spokesman for the prime minister said Britain had been assured the “allegations would not be repeated.”
- Nearly two weeks after Mr. Trump accused President Barack Obama of tapping his phones, the issue has eclipsed White House policy efforts.
White House-GCHQ row reveals a leader willing to alienate allies to save face
- The extraordinary public rebuke by the United States’ closest surveillance partner has revealed an emerging characteristic of Donald Trump’s White House: a willingness to antagonize even its allies instead of admitting error.
- GCHQ, the UK surveillance mammoth intimately linked to the National Security Agency (NSA), has taken public exception to an allegation repeated from the White House podium that, if true, would probably shatter the Five Eyes intelligence alliance so dear to both Washington and London.
- Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, credulously repeated on Thursday an account by a Fox News pundit, Andrew Napolitano, that GCHQ laundered surveillance on Trump at the behest of Barack Obama. Napolitano, who is in no position to actually know, made the allegation apparently to explain away the emerging consensus, even from senior Republicans on the intelligence committees, that there is no basis to Trump’s claim that Obama ordered that surveillance.
- GCHQ practically never responds to stories about its operations. But the implications of this one are severe. There would be no way for the NSA and GCHQ, which are joined at the hip, to continue their partnership if GCHQ was willing to interfere in the US political process.
And top it all off with the London Daily Mail and an act from the sideshow:
Frantic search for Secret Service agent’s STOLEN laptop containing Trump Tower floor plans and Clinton email details after she left it in her parked car
- A Secret Service agent’s laptop was reportedly stolen from her vehicle parked in her driveway in Brooklyn, New York Thursday morning
- The agency and the NYPD have been frantically trying to find the computer, which reportedly has ‘sensitive’ information that could harm national security
- The contents of the computer include floor layouts for Trump Tower and information about the Clinton email investigation
- A thief was seen on surveillance footage breaking into the car and then walking away with a backpack