More than 24 hours after President Donald Trump tweeted accusing former President Barack Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower, the White House issued its first response — and is calling for an investigation into the previous administration’s surveillance activities.
“Reports concerning potentially politically motivated investigations immediately ahead of the 2016 election are very troubling,” read a statement from White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer issued Sunday morning. “President Donald J. Trump is requesting that as part of their investigation into Russian activity, the congressional intelligence committees exercise their oversight authority to determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016.”
On Saturday morning, Mr. Trump sent out a flurry of tweets claiming, with no evidence, that Obama ordered a wiretap on him at Trump Tower during the lead-up to the 2016 election. He called the alleged action “Nixon/Watergate,” saying Obama is a “bad (or sick) guy.”
The claim had been floating around conservative media in recent days, including from conservative radio host Mark Levin and Breitbart News, which may explain how Mr. Trump first encountered this topic. An Obama spokesman responded Saturday afternoon, calling the claims “simply false” and saying that “neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen.”
Spicer’s statement also indicated that Mr. Trump, who sent off a flurry of tweets on this subject early Saturday morning, will not say anything further about it.
“Neither the White House nor the President will comment further until such oversight is conducted,” the statement read.
Citing senior U.S. officials, The New York Times reported Sunday that FBI Director James B. Comey has asked the Justice Department to publicly reject Mr. Trump’s claim that Obama ordered the tapping of Mr. Trump’s phones. The unnamed sources said Comey has argued that the highly charged claim is false and must be corrected. But the department has not released any such statement. Comey has been working to get the Justice Department to refute Mr. Trump’s claim because there is no evidence to support it and it insinuates that the FBI broke the law, the officials told the newspaper.
There was no comment from the Justice Department to CBS News as of Sunday evening.