Trump Wiretapping Claims Dominate Intelligence Hearing

Tomas Mccoy
March 19, 2017

President Donald Trump deflected blame for having angered the United Kingdom government by repeating an allegation he was spied on by British intelligence, and declined to back away from the unsubstantiated claim that his predecessor, Barack Obama, put him under surveillance.

"At least we have something in common, perhaps", Trump said during a joint news conference with Merkel.

"We said nothing, all we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on TV", he said. Spicer and McMaster both said that Spicer was simply pointing to public reports and not endorsing any specific story, the official said. The spying claims were made by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who cited a Fox News commentator.

According to a Western diplomat, Spicer and Darroch had spoken by telephone on Tuesday, at which time Darroch asserted that there was no basis to the report.

The issue was spotlighted after a German reporter asked President Trump about his "wiretapping" accusations at a press conference Friday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

It was, after all, titled "Trump's budget makes flawless sense and will fix America, and I will tell you why".

The British official told Reuters that under British law, GCHQ "can only gather intelligence for national security purposes" and noted that the United States election "clearly doesn't meet that criteria".

U.S. ties with Germany were frayed by news reports in 2013 citing leaked intelligence documents that Washington had bugged Merkel's mobile phone.

The Republican Trump, president since January 20, tweeted this month that his Democratic predecessor had wiretapped him during the late stages of the 2016 campaign.

Republicans in Congress also said Trump should retract his claims.

A government source, who requested anonymity when discussing sensitive information, said an initial examination indicated it contained no evidence to support Trump's charge.

On Friday, Fox News also clarified its stance on the original claim by Napolitano.

Dominic Grieve, chairman of the British Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee, said a U.S. president can not task the GCHQ to intercept an individual's communications.

That's a notably broad claim - not just that Fox has no evidence of GCHQ being involved but no evidence of any surveillance of Trump, period.

The British government said the White House has promised it won't repeat the allegation. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence weighed in Thursday, finding "no indications" that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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