The Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee said on Thursday they saw no evidence to support President Donald Trump's claim that the Obama administration tapped his phones during the 2016 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," read a statement by Republican Chairman Richard Burr and Senator Mark Warner, the committee's Democratic vice chairman.
Trump had alleged in a series of tweets on March 4, without offering supporting evidence, that Obama ordered a wiretap of the phones at Trump's campaign headquarters in Trump Tower in New York.
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
James Clapper, a former director of national intelligence, rejected the charge in an appearance the next day on NBC's "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,"Clapper said.
Under U.S. law, a federal 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 in the March 5 interview, "I can deny it."
Former Obama adviser Ben Rhodes also tweeted a sharp rejection of the allegations.
No President can order a wiretap. Those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you. https://t.co/lEVscjkzSw— Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) March 4, 2017
Meanwhile, the White House asked Congress to investigate the alleged wiretap.
Democrats accused Trump of trying to distract at the time from the rising controversy about possible ties to Russia. His administration has come under pressure from FBI and congressional investigations into contacts between members of his campaign team and Russian officials.
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