Trump vs. House, Senate, His Attorney General, and FBI Director on Obama’s ‘Wiretap’
It’s President Trump vs. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, and FBI Director James Comey.
During a White House press briefing on Thursday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that despite denials from the aforementioned individuals, President Trump “stands by” his claim that former president Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower.
“First of all he stands by it,” Spicer said in response to a question from ABC’s Jonathan Karl on Thursday. “But again, you’re mischaracterizing what happened today. Again, I go back to what I said at the beginning—it’s interesting how at the same time, where were you coming to the defense of that same intelligence committee and those members when they said there was no connection to Russia.”
“The bottom line is that the president said last night that there would be additional information coming forward,” Spicer pressed on. “There’s a ton of media reports out there that indicate that something was going on during the 2016 election. And I think it’s interesting where was the questioning of the New York Times or these other outlets when that was going on.”
Asked specifically whether he thought that Trump would be vindicated with his initial claims, Spicer - reinforcing a line from Trump on Wednesday night - said “I believe he will.”
"Wiretap covers a lot of different things," Trump told Tucker Carlson on Fox News. "I think you're going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks."
This whole saga began with a series of tweets President Trump sent before 7 a.m. on March 4. “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory,” the first tweet said. “Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”
Since then, there has been no additional verification that anything of the sort happened and the White House has twisted into pretzels to back up a series of tweets that were reportedly based on the president reading a Breitbart article.
Almost two weeks after the tweets, it has grown increasingly difficult for the White House to defend the claims given that a number of high-ranking congressional officials said they simply couldn’t back it up.
Before the briefing on Thursday, Senate Intelligence Committee chair Richard Burr and ranking member Mark Warner issued a statement pouring cold water on the claims from President Trump that Trump Tower had been wiretapped during the presidential campaign.
"Based on the information available to us, we see no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element of the United States government either before or after Election Day 2016,” the statement read.
Burr wasn’t the first Republican to say he simply wasn’t aware of any wiretap either.
Earlier in the day, House Speaker Paul Ryan similarly refuted the claims first made on Trump’s Twitter account nearly two weeks ago.
"The intelligence committees, in their continuing, widening, ongoing investigations of all things Russia, got to the bottom—at least so far with respect to our intelligence community—that no such wiretap existed," he told CNN at a news conference on Thursday.
Their remarks come as a growing number of Republicans have publicly broken ranks with the White House due to the fact that no evidence ever emerged to back up his claims.
Even Attorney General Jeff Sessions seemed to walk away from the claims on Wednesday saying that he gave Trump no reason to believe that wiretap claim was true.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes also said he did not believe there was a tap of Trump Tower on Wednesday. He went on to say that he was however interested in determining if other surveillance took place.
There was heavy skepticism from the start that Trump’s claims would turn out to be accurate. Just a day after he first tweeted the accusation, FBI Director James Comey reportedly asked the Department of Justice to reject Trump’s claim.