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.”
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
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.
Administration officials are defending the president on the Sunday shows, too. Asked about the president’s sources on ABC’s “This Week,” deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Mr. Trump is “going off information that he’s seen that has led him to believe that this is a very real potential.”
“He’s made very clear what he believes, and he’s asking we get down to the bottom of this,” she said. “Let’s get the truth here.”