March 05, 2017
A spokesperson for former President Barack Obama says President Trump’s assertion that Obama unlawfully wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential campaign is “simply false.”
“A cardinal rule of the Obama Administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice,” said Obama spokesman Kevin Lewis in a statement Saturday afternoon. “As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.”
The statement doesn’t deny that wiretapping may have taken place, just that the Obama White House wasn’t behind it.
In a series of tweets early Saturday morning, Trump said wiretaps were place in Trump Tower in October, just before his Nov. 8 election victory over Hillary Clinton.
“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”, Trump first tweeted. Then the president sent out a tweet about the 22 times the Russian ambassador reportedly visited the White House, including four times last year.
Trump’s next tweet compared the wiretap to the Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.
“How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”, Trump tweeted.
The president then mentioned he might look into a “good lawyer” to make a “great case” out of the wiretap.
“I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!”, Trump tweeted.
He added: “Is it legal for a sitting President to be “wire tapping” a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!”
The president has not provided any evidence of wiretapping. Trump has tweeted out unfounded claims in the past.
Trump is likely reacting to a Breitbart story published Friday, which explores conservative radio host Mark Levin’s claim a day prior on “police tactics” the Obama administration used to undermine Trump’s campaign. The article discusses reports about the Obama administration applying for a FISA court warrant to tap Trump Tower in New York City to investigate suspected links to Russian banks. A federal judge would need to find probable cause in order to approve any such surveillance activities.
Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, was previously Breitbart News’ chief executive.
There has been some pushback against Trump’s claims from former Obama administration officials.
CNN and NBC reported unnamed officials denying Trump’s claims on Saturday. Former Obama deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes tweeted at Trump, saying no president can order a wiretap.
“Those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you,” Rhodes said.