US & World

Trump stands by unverified wiretap claim


US President Donald Trump attends a meeting on healthcare at the White House in Washington, DC.Image copyright
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Mr Trump has produced no evidence to support his accusation

US President Donald Trump has stood by his unsubstantiated claim that Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower last year.

He told Fox News a “wiretap covers a lot of different things” and hinted more could emerge in the coming weeks.

Mr Obama has denied the charge and former spy chiefs and several lawmakers have said they have seen no evidence.

The latest senior figure to cast doubt on the allegation was the Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee.

Devin Nunes said on Wednesday he doesn’t believe “there was an actual tap of Trump Tower”.

Earlier this month, Mr Trump tweeted that President Obama had wiretapped his phones during the presidential campaign.

In a series of tweets, he accused his predecessor directly, asking: “Is it legal for a sitting President to be ‘wire tapping’ a race for president?”

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Talking to Fox News in an interview that will be broadcast in full on Wednesday night, the president made his first comments about the wiretap accusation he made two weeks ago.

He said: “Wiretap covers a lot of different things. I think you’re going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.”

Despite repeated requests from reporters, the White House has not provided any evidence to support the president’s claim.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has said Mr Trump “used the word ‘wiretap’ in quotes to mean broadly surveillance and other activities”.

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Getty Images

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Mr Trump has produced no evidence to support his accusation

And he was not accusing Mr Obama personally, Mr Spicer said.

Mr Trump asked Congress to examine the allegation as part of an investigation into alleged Russian meddling in last year’s election.

Senator Lindsey Graham, who is leading the Senate Judiciary Committee’s investigation of allegations of Trump-Russia ties, has pressed the FBI to come forward with more details of its own probe into the issue.

Mr Graham said on Wednesday he would use a court order to force FBI Director James Comey to submit details on its Russian investigation and whether there was any evidence of Mr Trump’s phones being wiretapped.

No evidence of wiretapping, according to:

  • former President Barack Obama
  • FBI Director James Comey
  • ex-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper
  • ex-CIA Director John Brennan
  • Republican chairman of House intelligence committee, Devin Nunes
  • Republican John McCain, who chairs Senate Committee on Armed Services

Mr Comey promised on Wednesday to provide answers in a classified briefing.

US intelligence agencies found that Russia conducted cyber-attacks against the Democratic Party as part of an effort to influence the election in Mr Trump’s favour.

Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement.

Mr Trump has been dogged by claims that his advisers and staff had ties to Russian officials, but there has been no evidence of any collusion between his campaign and Moscow.


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