- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 4, 2017

President Trump on Saturday accused former President Obama of tapping his phones at Trump Tower during the campaign, saying he was targeted with “Nixon/Watergate” and “McCarthyism” tactics. Mr. Obama denied the allegation Saturday afternoon through a spokesman.

The president’s tweets follow reports that the Obama administration asked the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in October 2016 to approve a wire tap of Trump Tower.

“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” Mr. Trump said in a series of tweets.

“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!” wrote Mr. Trump, who is spending the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla. 

The alleged wiretaps raise eyebrows for numerous reason, including the fact that Mr. Obama had endorsed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

The request for a wiretap at Trump Tower was denied. But other reports indicate the FBI earlier targeted computer servers in Trump Tower.

“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!” he said. “How low has President Obama gone to tapp [sic] my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”

A representative of the former president denied the allegation in a statement shared via Twitter.

“Neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false,” wrote Obama spokesman Kevin Lewis in the statement.

Former Obama national security aide Ben Rhodes responded to Mr. Trump in a series of comments on Twitter, calling him a “liar” and refuting the president’s assertions.

“No President can order a wiretap,” Mr. Rhodes tweeted at Mr. Trump. “Those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you.”

To Mr. Trump’s claim that “a good lawyer could make a great case” out of Mr. Obama supposedly tapping his phones last fall, Mr. Rhodes replied: “No. They couldn’t. Only a liar could do that.”

Mr. Rhodes, who was the architect of much of Mr. Obama’s foreign policy moves, also ridiculed “pundits” who had praised Mr. Trump’s speech to Congress Tuesday night.

“Dear Pundits who lauded his speech. Is it still ‘presidential’ to call your dignified predecessor “Bad (or sick) guy!” Mr. Rhodes asked.

Still the wiretaps underscore the president’s suspicions that leaks within the intelligence community, perhaps holdovers from the Obama administration, are fueling allegations about Trump campaign ties to Russian spies who were trying to influence the the presidential election.

The Trump administration repeatedly has come under fire for contacts with Russia during the campaign. Most recently, Attorney General Jeff Sessions this week had to defend himself for meeting as a U.S. senator with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

“Just out: The same Russian Ambassador that met Jeff Sessions visited the Obama White House 22 times, and 4 times last year alone,” Mr. Trump said in the series of tweets.

He was apparently referring to a Daily Caller report Thursday that chronicled Mr. Kislyaks visits according to a White House log.

Revelation in news reports, based on transcripts of phone calls intercepted by intelligence agents, about Michael Flynn’s discussions with Mr. Kislyak during the transition led to his resignation as Mr. Trump’s national security advisor.

The allegation of wiretapping at Trump Tower arose from a series of news reports that were compiled by talk radio host Mark Levin and espoused on his show Thursday. He called the Obama administration conduct a “silent coup,” according to Real Clear Politics.

“There’s a much bigger scandal here: We have a prior administration. Barack Obama and his surrogates, who are supporting Hillary Clinton and her party, the Democratic Party. Who were using the … intelligence activities to surveil members of the Trump campaign, and to put that information out in the public,” Mr. Levin said the nationally syndicated show. “Those are police state tactics. Nothing Flynn or Sessions has done is even in the same category as that.”

“The question is: Was Obama surveilling top Trump campaign officials during the election?” he asked.

___

Ken Shepherd contributed to this report.

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