Former Pindo intelligence chief rejects Trump wiretap accusation
John Whitesides, James Oliphant, Reuters, Mar 5 2017
FASCHINGSTEIN – Former FBI chief James Comey rejected Pres Trump’s accusation that Obama wiretapped him, even as the White House on Sunday urged Congress to investigate Trump’s allegation. The NYT reported on Sunday that Comey asked the DoJ this weekend to reject Trump’s wiretapping claim. The White House asked Congress to examine whether the Obama administration abused its investigative authority during the presidential campaign, as part of their ongoing probe. Trump on Saturday alleged, without offering supporting evidence, that Obama ordered a wiretap of the phones at Trump’s campaign headquarters in Trump Tower in New York. Clapper said on NBC Meet the Press:
There was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president-elect at the time, or as a candidate or against his campaign. There was no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in the January intelligence report concluding Russian interference in the 2016 election, but this could have unfolded or become available in the time since I left government.
Under the FISA law, the FISA court would have to have found probable cause that the target of the surveillance is an “agent of a foreign power” in order to approve a warrant authorizing electronic surveillance of Trump Tower. Asked whether there was such a court order, Clapper said, “I can deny it.” Sean Spicer said Trump and his officials would have no further comment on the issue until Congress has completed its probe, potentially heading off attempts to get Trump to explain his accusations. Spicer said in a statement:
Reports concerning potentially politically motivated investigations immediately ahead of the 2016 election are very troubling.
Rep Devin Nunes, head of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement that any possible surveillance on campaign officials would be part of their probe into possible links between Russia and Trump’s campaign. An Obama spokesman denied Trump’s charge, saying it was “a cardinal rule” that no White House official interfered with DoJ investigations. The White House offered no evidence on Sunday to back up Trump’s accusation, and did not say it was true. Spox Sarah Huckabee Sanders told ABC This Week:
The Pres made very clear what he believes, and he’s asking that we get down to the bottom of this. Let’s get the truth here.
Trump, who is spending the weekend at his Florida resort, said in his tweets on Saturday that the alleged wiretapping took place in his Trump Tower office and apartment building in New York, but there was “nothing found.” Trump’s allegations echo charges made in recent days by several conservative news and commentary outlets, all without offering any evidence. Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary under Obama, said the president did not have the authority to unilaterally order a wiretap of a Pindosi citizen. Earnest said on ABC This Week:
The president was not giving marching orders to the FBI about how to conduct its investigation!