A day after U.S. President Donald Trump lashed out at his predecessor, Barack Obama, and accused him of tapping his phone, the president asked Congress to examine whether the previous administration did in fact abuse its authority during the 2016 campaign, the White House said in a statement.
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"Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!" Trump said in a series of tweets early morning on Saturday, amid expanding scrutiny of his campaign's ties to Russia.
Weighing in on the controversy for the first time, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer released a short statement on Sunday that only added to the confusion and the conflicting reports on Trump's accusation.
"Reports concerning potentially politically motivated investigations immediately ahead of the 2016 election are very troubling," the statement read. Spicer said that "neither the White House nor the President will comment further until such oversight is conducted."
Spicer's statement came out amid reports that Trump's senior staff was caught by surprise when Trump first made the claims, and had no clear idea what he was referring to.
Obama's Director of National Intelligence James Clapper denied Trump's charge on Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," which tweeted that Clapper said "there was no wiretapping mounted against the president or his campaign."
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.