- The Washington Times - Monday, March 6, 2017

The White House said Monday that President Trump is asking Congress to investigate leaks of classified government secrets, in addition to probing the possibility that President Obama ordered the wiretapping of his campaign operation.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Mr. Trump wants the House and Senate intelligence committees to look into “pervasive leaks of national security classified information.”

“He believes it undermines our national security,” Mr. Spicer said.

The president and his advisers are frustrated by a series of leaked intelligence reports linking his campaign officials to Russia. Mr. Trump on Saturday also demanded a probe into a report that the Obama administration “wiretapped” Trump Tower during last year’s presidential campaign.

Mr. Obama and his former top aides have refuted the allegation.

Mr. Spicer said he was “almost 100 percent certain” that the president has not spoken to FBI Director James B. Comey about the president’s claim that the previous administration wiretapped him during the 2016 election campaign. Mr. Comey reportedly has asked the Justice Department to reject publicly Mr. Trump’s accusation of wiretapping ordered by Mr. Obama.

Mr. Trump had tweeted over the weekend: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”

Democrats are accusing Mr. Trump of making the wiretapping claim to try to distract from controversy about possible links to Russia.

A U.S. intelligence official told The Washington Times on condition of anonymity Monday that there was “no evidence” to back up the claim that Mr. Trump put on Twitter.

“It seems like a crazy diversionary thing he threw out there,” the official said, suggesting that the president was trying to deflect scrutiny away from his administration and toward leaks and other actions of officials who worked for Mr. Obama.

Mr. Spicer didn’t elaborate on what information the president was basing his claims of wiretapping. But he pointed to former Bush administration Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who said Sunday it was “likely” there was surveillance.

Mr. Mukasey said, “The president was not correct in saying President Obama ordered a tap on a server in Trump Tower. However, I think he’s right in that there was surveillance and that it was conducted at the behest of the attorney general — at the Justice Department through the FISA court.”

A Republican lawmaker who heads a House oversight panel said on Monday he had seen no direct evidence to back Mr. Trump’s wiretapping assertion.

“Thus far, I have not seen anything directly that would support what the president has said,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, told CBS in an interview.

Republican lawmakers said they will include Mr. Trump’s claim that the Obama administration engaged in politically driven wiretapping in the congressional probes of Russian campaign meddling. Rep. Devin Nunes, the California Republican who heads the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said the president’s allegation would be examined as part of the panel’s investigation.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said that Mr. Trump has access to information and intelligence others do not, and that “credible news sources” suggested there might be more to look into.

“Well, let’s get to the bottom of it — that is the president’s entire point,” Ms. Conway said on “Fox & Friends.” “You have a number of various and credible news sources showing that there was politically motivated activity all during the campaign and suggesting that there may be more there.

“The president’s entire point is that the people deserve to know,” she said. “If we don’t know, then let’s find out together.”

White House officials didn’t explain how Mr. Trump might have obtained his information.

“He’s the president of the United States,” Ms. Conway said. “He has information and intelligence that the rest of us do not, and that’s the way it should be for presidents.”

Referring to the wiretap accusation and other Trump tweets, Sen. Bernard Sanders, Vermont independent, said on Twitter: “President Trump cannot continue to lie, lie, lie. It diminishes the office of the president and our standing in the world.”

A friend of the president, Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy, said Mr. Trump was “pissed” about the media’s dismissive reaction to his claim of wiretapping when he saw him in Florida on Saturday.

Mr. Ruddy said when he asked the president about Mr. Obama’s denials of wiretapping, Mr. Trump replied, “This will be investigated. This will all come out. I will be proven right.”

“I haven’t seen him this pissed off in a long time,” Mr. Ruddy wrote on his news website.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff, California Democrat and the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, said Monday that Mr. Trump simply might not know the difference between what’s correct and incorrect at this point.

“We must accept possibility that @POTUS does not know fact from fiction, right from wrong. That wild claims are not strategic, but worse,” Mr. Schiff said on Twitter.

Rep. Joaquin Castro, Texas Democrat and another member on the House Intelligence Committee, challenged Mr. Trump Monday to provide proof of wiretapping.

“President Trump should back up his wire tapping claim immediately or apologize to President Obama and the nation,” Mr. Castro tweeted. “I’ve seen no evidence.”

Previous media reports have indicated that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court granted a warrant for the FBI to conduct surveillance of “U.S. persons” in a probe of possible contacts between Russian banks and the Trump campaign.

⦁ David Sherfinski and Guy Taylor contributed to this report.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide