None of this is really supported by the public record. First, the attribution of whatever monitoring occurred to the “Obama administration” insinuates a degree of involvement by the White House or its political appointees for which there is no evidence. “Eavesdrop” implies surveillance of telephone conversations, which do not appear to have been the focus of the FISC order. (As is now well known, the intelligence community did intercept telephone conversations between former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn and the Russian ambassador—but as a result of routine collection on an acknowledged foreign agent, not surveillance targeting Flynn himself.) Neither is there any evidence that authorization was sought to collect on “the Trump campaign” per se; rather, the BBC’s report claims that the application ultimately rejected by the FISC focused on “four members of the Trump team.” Mensch’s original report asserts that Trump was “named” in the initial application, but is vague as to whether that means he was a named target of electronic surveillance. (Since, again, that would entail showing that Trump himself was an “agent of a foreign power, ” this seems improbable unless the FBI has managed to keep some explosive evidence under wraps in the leakiest political environment I can recall.) “Continued monitoring” implies some nefarious motive, but a standard FISA surveillance order would run for either 90 days (if targeting a U.S. person) or 120 days (if targeting a non-U.S. person), so there’s nothing particularly extraordinary in that.
The claim that the administration then “relaxed the NSA rules to allow evidence to be shared widely within the government” is presumably a reference to the revised guidelines for intelligence sharing issued in January. First, this revision was first publicly announced in February of last year, and had been in the works since long before any inquiry into Russian election interference began. Second, it applies to raw signals intelligence obtained by NSA pursuant to Executive Order 12333, not to intelligence gathered by the FBI under the authority of a FISA court order. Third, there is no evidence whatever that any of the intelligence leaks that have made headlines in recent weeks are connected with the revised guidelines—and, indeed, this seems rather unlikely, since most of those leaks have concerned information disseminated in “finished” intelligence reports, not the “raw” signals intelligence to which the new guidelines apply.
In short, both Breitbart and Trump have advanced claims far more dramatic than anything the public evidence can support. That said, intelligence monitoring—whether direct or indirect—of persons connected with a presidential campaign inherently carries a high risk of abuse, and as Congress moves to launch its own inquiries into the Trump campaign’s Russian ties, it would be entirely appropriate to further scrutinize both the FBI’s initial surveillance and applications and the surveillance that was ultimately conducted for any signs of impropriety. In the meantime, it might behoove the Commander in Chief to refrain from issuing serious and inflammatory accusations based wholly on “intelligence” gleaned from Breitbart News.