Rep. Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Republican, said Monday that the Trump administration now controls any paper trail that could back up Mr. Trump’s claims that former President Obama ordered wiretaps on Trump Tower last year, and said the Justice Department is free to release any information that could support the allegations.
“It’s really hard to cross-examine tweets. I need witnesses. I need documents,” Mr. Gowdy, a member of the House intelligence committee, said on Fox News.
He said he hasn’t seen evidence either that the Obama team did surveillance at Trump Tower, as Mr. Trump alleged over the weekend, or that the Trump team colluded with the Russians last year.
Mr. Gowdy said there are two ways a U.S. citizen’s electronic communications can be intercepted: through either a criminal inquiry, or an intelligence inquiry through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
“There is no other way for it lawfully to be done,” he said. “The good news about both of those … is there’s a paper trail. There’s an application. There are warrants — all of which can be reviewed.”
“And right now, the executive branch is controlled not by the Obama administration, but by the Trump administration,” he said. “So whatever information is out there — and there would be a paper trail — is now controlled by the executive branch run by Mr. Trump.”
The White House on Sunday said Mr. Trump was asking the House and Senate intelligence committees to look into “whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016” as part of their inquiries into Russian activity related to last year’s election.
The statement said neither Mr. Trump nor the White House would comment further until the oversight is conducted.
But Mr. Gowdy said the Justice Department could potentially answer some of the questions right now.
“The Obama team is no longer in charge,” he said. “So any information the current Department of Justice has that suggests the previous Department of Justice acted inappropriately - they are welcome to release it.”