Senate Intel Committee Very Strongly Rebukes Wiretapping, Wider Surveillance at Trump Tower

Senate Intelligence Committee leaders released a joint statement Thursday saying that they have no reason to believe that President Donald Trump‘s wiretapping claims against former President Barack Obama are true.

“Based on the information available to us, we see no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element of the United States government either before or after Election Day 2016,” Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, and Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Virginia, said in the joint statement.

They both visited CIA headquarters last week and the two men have also met with FBI Director James Comey. Both men have been privy to relevant classified documents.

This statement comes on the heels of what House Intelligence Committee leaders concluded Wednesday.

In a press conference on Capitol Hill yesterday, Chairman Devin Nunes, R-California, said, “We don’t have any evidence that that took place. … I don’t think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower.”

California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said that there is “no basis” for President Trump’s accusations, adding that it “deeply concerns me that the president would make such an accusation without basis.”

The accusations from Trump against Obama first came in a series of tweets March 4.

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

In an interview with Fox News that aired Wednesday evening, Trump explained he didn’t necessarily mean wiretapping.

“When I say wiretapping, those words were in quotes. That really covers — because wiretapping is pretty old-fashioned stuff — but that really covers surveillance and many other things,” Trump said.

Two out of Trump’s four March 4 tweets related to wiretapping included the phrase in quotes.

In the interview, Trump also said the sources of information behind his tweets stemmed from a Jan. 20 New York Times article and a Fox News report from anchor Bret Baier. However, neither the Times article nor the Fox News report said that Obama had ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower.

When asked why he didn’t reach out to intelligence agencies to gather evidence backing his allegations, President Trump said he didn’t want to do “anything that’s going to violate any strength of an agency.”

Despite the growing chorus of voices saying that they haven’t found proof, Trump did not back down from his claims.

“I think you’re going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks,” Trump told Fox News.

(h/t ABC News)

Trump Leaked Classified CIA Intel to Tucker Carlson on Live TV

Pres. Donald Trump either leaked classified intelligence information to the world or told another whopping fib on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show Wednesday when he said that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)’s servers were hacked under Pres. Barack Obama.

TheHill.com reported that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said in a press release, “In his effort to once again blame Obama, the President appeared to have discussed something that, if true and accurate, would otherwise be considered classified information.”

“I just want people to know, the CIA was hacked, and a lot of things taken — that was during the Obama years,” claimed Trump Wednesday night. “That was not during us. That was during the Obama situation. Mike Pompeo is there now doing a fantastic job.”

Schiff said, “The President has the power to declassify whatever he wants, but this should be done as the product of thoughtful consideration and with intense input from any agency affected. For anyone else to do what the President may have done, would constitute what he deplores as ‘leaks.’”

(h/t Raw Story)

Tom Price Says States Can Pass Anti-Vaccination Laws

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, a licensed physician, argued Wednesday that vaccinating children should be a matter best handled by the states, and not dictated by federal guidelines.

Price’s comments, made during a CNN Town Hall on the Affordable Care Act, has fueled concerns that he shares some of the president’s sympathies for those who link childhood vaccinations with autism. This idea has been forcefully discredited by a wide body of scientific research, and the so-called anti-vaxx movement is credited with the return of once-eradicated diseases like measles, mumps, and whooping cough, not to mention the spread of preventable disease like the HPV virus.

The federal government does not currently mandate vaccination policy. However, Price does have the authority to revoke current guidelines and policies set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is under his jurisdiction. Currently the CDC recommends vaccinations for children. Those policies hold significant sway over state law.

Price also supports the Republican Obamacare replacement plan which contains a provision that would slash half the funding for the federal vaccines program. The Section 317 Vaccination program is critical to staying on top of immunizations and disease outbreaks nationwide.

Denise Edwards from Michigan asked Price whether he believed Americans, when deciding on a healthcare plan, should be penalized for eschewing immunizations “for ethical or religious reasons.”

“You ought to be able to select the plan that matches your needs instead of the federal government telling you, ‘This is what you’ve got to buy,’” Price responded.

Co-host Wolf Blitzer interrupted and pressed Price on the matter.

“Dr. Price, you’re a physician,” Blitzer said. “You believe in immunizations; you believe all children should get a shot for polio and other diseases.”

“It’s a perfectly appropriate role for government — this happens by and large at the state government level… to determine whether or not immunizations are required for a community population,” Price said. “Whether it’s growing kids or the like, or, if its an outbreak of a particular infectious disease, whether immunization ought to be required or be able to be utilized.”

Price’s comments are seemingly a departure from the position he took during his Senate confirmation hearing in January. New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez asked Price whether he agreed with Trump that vaccines cause autism.

“I think the science in that instance is that it does not,” Price said. He also promised senators that he would “make certain that factual informing is conveyed to Congress and the president and the American people” on the issue of vaccinations.

In January, during the transition period, Trump met with Robert F. Kennedy, a leading proponent of the anti-vaccination conspiracy theory. Kennedy told reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower after the meeting that the then-president-elect had asked him to chair a special commission on vaccination safety. The purpose of the commission, he said, would be to ensure “scientific integrity in the vaccine process for efficacy and safety effects.”

(h/t Vice News)

Reality

Tom Price belongs to a truly radical medical organization known as the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.

The AAPS organization stands at direct odds, in myriad ways, with some of very foundational beliefs of evidence-based modern public-health research.

From ScienceBlogs:

Perhaps [Price] was so attracted to the AAPS vision of doctors as special and “outside of the herd” to the point that he ignored its simultaneous promotion of dangerous medical quackery, such as antivaccine pseudoscience blaming vaccines for autism, including a view that is extreme even among antivaccine activists, namely that the “shaken baby syndrome” is a “misdiagnosis” for vaccine injury; its HIV/AIDS denialism; its blaming immigrants for crime and disease; its promotion of the pseudoscience claiming that abortion causes breast cancer using some of the most execrable “science” ever; its rejection of evidence-based guidelines as an unacceptable affront on the godlike autonomy of physicians; or the way the AAPS rejects even the concept of a scientific consensus about anything. Let’s just put it this way. The AAPS has featured publications by antivaccine mercury militia “scientists” Mark and David Geier. Even so, the very fact that Price was attracted enough to this organization and liked it enough to actually join it should raise a number of red flags. It certainly did with me, because I know the AAPS all too well.

Media

Republican Intel Chairman: No Evidence of Obama Wiretap of Trump Tower

With threats of subpoenas and efforts to block a top Justice nominee, congressional leaders are ramping up pressure on the Justice Department and FBI to acknowledge whether there is any information to support President Trump’s widely disputed claim that the Obama administration wiretapped his New York offices in advance of the November election.

The Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee told reporters Wednesday he has seen no evidence to support the claim.

“We don’t have any evidence that that took place,” California Rep. Devin Nunes said during a news conference at the Capitol. “I don’t think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower.”

Nunes said it was obvious that President Obama did not personally install listening devices in the building where Trump has offices and an apartment, so he said the committee has had to try to determine what the Trump did mean if his tweet could not be taken literally.

“If the White House or the president want to come out and clarify his statements more, it would probably, probably be helpful,” Nunes said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, indicated separately Wednesday that he has bipartisan support to seek subpoenas if FBI Director James Comey does not respond to Trump’s wiretap claims and outline the status of the bureau’s ongoing investigation into communications between Trump associates and Russian government officials.

“The bottom line is that a lot of Americans want to know what’s going on here,” Graham said at Senate hearing examining Russia’s efforts at undermining the U.S. political system and other democracies.

Graham said the FBI informed him late Wednesday that the bureau would be responding to lawmakers’ concerns in “a classified setting.”

If the request is not satisfied, Graham said there is Judiciary Committee support for issuing subpoenas to compel the information and to block the pending nomination of Rod Rosenstein, who is awaiting confirmation as the deputy attorney general.

Rosenstein’s position is especially crucial since Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from overseeing the federal Russia inquiry after it was disclosed that the former Alabama senator — and Trump campaign adviser — had met twice with the Russian ambassador to the United States during the course of the general election campaign. Sessions did not disclose the meetings during his January confirmation hearings.

Earlier this week, the Justice Department, facing a separate deadline from the House Intelligence Committee to turn over information that might support Trump’s wiretap claims, asked for additional time to determine whether any information exists.

Nunes also said Wednesday he was demanding more answers from the intelligence community about efforts they make to prevent the release of the names of Americans who are caught on tape during surveillance of foreign officials.

He and Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat who is the ranking member of the panel, released a letter seeking answers about “unmasked” American identities by Friday. Nunes and Schiff said the committee would use its subpoena power if it does not get answers.

Comey and Adm. Michael Rogers, director of the National Security Agency, will testify at a public hearing the Intelligence Committee will hold Monday, Nunes said. Another hearing will be held March 28 to hear from other witnesses.

Schiff said Comey would be asked publicly whether he has seen any evidence that substantiates Trump’s claim.

“It deeply concerns me that the president would make such an accusation without basis,” Schiff said.

He said it could be Trump was just reacting to something he saw on television, and the White House reaction has evolved over time.

“You can’t level an accusation of that type without retracting it or explaining just why it was done,” Schiff said. “I think there are, from a national security perspective, great concerns if the president is willing to state things like that without any basis, because the country needs to be able to rely on him, particularly if we have a crisis.

Trump sought to expand the definition of “wiretap” on Wednesday, telling a Fox News interviewer that it can mean a lot of different types of surveillance.

“But wiretap covers a lot of different things,” Trump told Fox’s Tucker Carlson. “I think you’re going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.”

Trump echoed his aides, who in recent days sought to expand the nature of Trump’s claims about Obama. While the president used the the term “wiretapping” in his March 4 tweets, spokesman Sean Spicer and other aides have said he was referring to “surveillance” in general.

On Wednesday, Spicer said Nunes said he has no evidence “at this time” and that a review is ongoing. “We’re still at the beginning stages of this,” Spicer said.

Spicer again said there was no connection between the Trump campaign and Russians who sought to hack the 2016 election. “There’s nothing there,” he said.

Shortly after Trump issued his wiretap claims in a series of tweets, Comey asked that Justice officials refute the president’s allegations. The Justice Department has not acted on that request. Separately, former director of national intelligence James Clapper has publicly denied that such surveillance of Trump Tower existed.

Also on Wednesday, Graham led a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism about how to keep Russians from interfering in future U.S. and European elections the way they did in the 2016 presidential election in America. The U.S. Intelligence Community issued a report in January concluding that the Russian government, at the direction of Russian President Vladimir Putin,  interfered in the election to try to help Trump and defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton. The intelligence agencies also concluded that there was no evidence that the Russians tampered with the actual vote-tallying equipment.

Graham asked former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, whose country has been a victim of Russian hacking, what will happen if the U.S. “decided to forgive and forget”  Russia’s interference in the U.S. election.

“I believe, sir, it would encourage them to continue,” Ilves told Graham, who supports stronger U.S. sanctions against Russia.

Kenneth Wainstein, former homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush, said America can expect more cyber attacks aimed at interfering in U.S. elections — not just from Russia, but also from China, Iran and North Korea. He added that the U.S. government should consider a wide range of counter measures, including possibly “hacking back” against Russia and other nations to discourage them from interfering in U.S. elections.

“The threat is real,” he said.

(h/t USA Today)

Trump Starts Hip-Hip Feud With Snoop Dogg

President Trump fired off five tweets early Wednesday morning: one about his tax return, one about tax cuts, two about rallies and one about, well, Snoop Dogg.

“Can you imagine what the outcry would be if @SnoopDogg, failing career and all, had aimed and fired the gun at President Obama?” Trump wrote. “Jail time!”

The president was referring to the rapper’s new “Lavender” video, in which he draws a gun, takes aim at the head of “President Ronald Klump” — comedian Michael Rapaport dressed up as a clown — and fires. Though the effect is a cartoon “Bang!” unfurling from the barrel of the gag weapon, the implication is clear.

“Shame on you, Snoop,” Trump lawyer Michael Cohen said Tuesday on TMZ Live. The rapper owes the president an apology, he said. He wouldn’t have accepted the video if it were directed toward President Obama either, Cohen said.

“If you have a protest, that’s fine,” the attorney said. “Make a point. But he has to learn that they have to respect the office of the presidency … Just because you want to hide behind the guise of artistic capabilities or artistic freedom of speech doesn’t make it right, and Snoop knows that, and he played very close to the line here.”

In the wake of Republican Sen. Marco Rubio’s comments to TMZ criticizing the rapper, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told the website that he hadn’t seen the video yet but considered it to be “in poor taste,” especially given the nation’s history of presidential assassinations and attempted assassinations.

“I think it’s unfortunate. I wish he hadn’t done that,” Cruz said, noting that people “should not be advocating the murder of the president of the United States, and it’s sad that that is somehow deemed a controversial statement.”

(h/t Los Angeles Times)

Media

Ethics Documents Suggest Conflict Of Interest By Trump Adviser

Federal records indicate that a key adviser to President Trump held substantial investments in 18 companies when he joined Trump in meetings with their CEOs.

The investments of Christopher Liddell, the president’s director of strategic initiatives, totaled between $3 million and $4 million. Among the companies in Liddell’s portfolio, and whose CEOs were in the meetings: Dell Technologies, Dow Chemical, Johnson & Johnson, JPMorgan Chase, Lockheed Martin and Wal-Mart.

When Trump conferred with the chiefs of Ford, General Motors and Fiat-Chrysler last month, Liddell attended the session. He was invested in all three companies at the time.

Details of Liddell’s investments are contained in documents he filed with the White House ethics officer in preparation for divesting his holdings. He was seeking certificates of divestiture, which allow federal appointees to defer paying capital-gains taxes by reinvesting in a blind trust or similar arrangement.

The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint Tuesday with White House Counsel Donald McGahn, raising concerns that Liddell may have violated the federal conflict of interest law, a criminal statute.

The complaint states: “If Mr. Liddell personally participated in meetings with companies in which he held significant amounts of stock, he may have violated these rules.”

The White House responded with this statement: “Mr. Liddell has been working with the Office of the White House Counsel to ensure he is fully compliant with his legal and ethical obligations in connection with his holdings and his duties in the White House.”

Liddell was born in New Zealand and is a U.S. citizen. In the past he has worked as chief financial officer of Ford Motors, International Paper and Microsoft.

It’s not clear whether Liddell now has sold off his investments, but he apparently had not done so before the meetings in question. The meetings were held on Jan. 23, Jan. 24 and Feb. 3. On Feb. 9, the Office of Government Ethics issued four certificates of divestiture for Liddell and his wife. They would be worthless if the assets had already been sold.

The complaint is one of several actions by CREW on White House ethics issues. The group says in a lawsuit that Trump is violating the Constitution’s ban on foreign emoluments (gifts); it has questioned the ethics of presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway after she urged TV viewers to buy Ivanka Trump’s fashion merchandise; and it challenged the lack of transparency of two White House advisory committees.

CREW Director Noah Bookbinder said of the White House, “It seems nobody is concerned about people making decisions based on their personal interests and not the interests of the American people.”

(h/t NPR)

Spicer: Trump didn’t mean wiretapping when he tweeted about wiretapping

The White House on Monday walked back a key point of President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated allegation that President Barack Obama wiretapped his phones in Trump Tower during the 2016 election.

Namely, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Trump wasn’t referring to wiretapping when he tweeted about wiretapping.

“I think there’s no question that the Obama administration, that there were actions about surveillance and other activities that occurred in the 2016 election,” Spicer said. “The President used the word wiretaps in quotes to mean, broadly, surveillance and other activities.”

Wiretapping is a narrowly defined surveillance activity that involves tapping into “a telephone or telegram wire in order to get information,” according to Merriam-Webster dictionary.

Spicer also said that Trump was referring to the Obama administration broadly — and not accusing Obama of personal involvement — when he tweeted that “Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower” and accused Obama of being a “bad” or “sick guy.”

Spicer’s comments came on the same say as the deadline for the Justice Department to provide evidence to the House Intelligence Committee to back up Trump’s claim. The White House has so far refused to provide any evidence, and numerous former officials have denied the existence of any warrant to wiretap Trump Tower.

A week earlier, Spicer said Trump’s tweet “speaks for itself” and declined to provide any further explanation.

But Monday, Spicer was open to providing an interpretation for Trump’s tweet, saying the President told Spicer he was referring to means of surveillance beyond wiretapping in his tweets accusing Obama of doing just that.

But in each of the four tweets Trump fired off leveling the accusation, Trump referred specifically to phone tapping — and only used quotation marks in two of those.

“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory,” Trump said in his first tweet.

“Is it legal for a sitting President to be ‘wire tapping’ a race for president?” he asked in the next.

Then, Trump tweeted that Obama “was tapping my phones in October” and had stooped low “to tapp (sic) my phones during the very sacred election process.”

But Spicer was not the only White House official to provide an alternative definition of the word “wiretap” despite Trump’s clear language.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway also addressed the wiretapping claims in an interview Sunday with the Bergen County Record, suggesting that other covert surveillance methods used by the CIA — as revealed by Wikileaks last week — could have been used in Trump Tower by the Obama administration.

“Do you know whether Trump Tower was wiretapped?” Bergen County Record columnist Mike Kelly asked Conway on Sunday.

“What I can say is there are many ways to surveil each other,” Conway said, before suggesting that surveillance could take place through phones, TVs or “microwaves that turn into cameras.”

(h/t CNN)

Media

 

Sean Spicer Gets Confronted in Apple Store, Responds With Racism

White House spokesman Sean Spicer was accosted by an Indian-American woman — who peppered him with questions about committing “treason” and working for a “fascist” like President Trump — as he shopped in an Apple store over the weekend.

The encounter has since gone viral after the woman who filmed it, Shree Chauhan, 33, claimed online that Spicer had made a racist statement to her, saying: “It’s such a great country that allows you to be here.”

“Unlike this administration, I do not believe in ‘alternative facts.’ I believe in facts. I do not believe in accusing someone of this level of racism, when if in fact it was not,” Chauhan wrote Sunday in a lengthy post on Medium.

“So I watched the video over and over again,” she said. “And his words were clear…’Such a great country that allows you to be here.’ That is racism and it is an implied threat.”

Chauhan, who lives in Washington, D.C., filmed the interaction with Spicer on Periscope Saturday night after spotting the White House spokesman in the store. She had been there getting her iPhone fixed and said she ultimately felt the need to “speak truth to power.”

“It is customary to give public figures their space…However, given what Mr. Spicer and his boss are doing to this country, I do not believe they are entitled to these norms and customs,” Chauhan explained.

In the clip, the self-described “eternal optimist” can be heard asking Spicer a series of questions, including “How does it feel to work for a fascist” and “Have you helped with the Russia stuff?”

“We have a great country,” the press secretary replies, while appearing to try to ignore Chauhan.

“Have you committed treason too? Just like the president,” she asks. “What can you tell me about Russia?”

It is after this barrage that Spicer delivers his allegedly “racist” remark, saying: “It’s such a great country that allows you to be here.”

Chauhan wrote on Medium that the response left her disgusted.

“I am still stunned by the boldness of having my citizenship threatened on camera,” she said. “I was not polite. But when does being impolite mean that I should be thrown out of the United States of America? The country I was born in, the country I was raised in, the country I love despite its flaws.”

Speaking to the Daily Mail about the video on Sunday, Chauhan shot down claims that Spicer could have been referring to the First Amendment rights of all Americans to exercise free speech when he made the comment.

“He’s the press secretary for the president of the United States,” she said. “Don’t tell me what he probably meant because he also works for this administration that has done all of these things.”

Chauhan went on to note how Trump has signed executive orders temporarily banning refugees and asylum seekers from predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East and Africa.

“He could’ve said, ‘Such a great country that allows dissent,’” she told the Mail. “There’s a lot of way that could’ve been said. To have someone who speaks for the president of the United States tell me to my face that I shouldn’t be here and I was born here — that is a real thing.”

Chauhan added that she’s feared for her safety since the day Trump was elected.

“I woke up the day after the election in fear of what would happen to someone like me. And we’ve seen what happened,” she said. “We’ve seen what happened to Indians.”

Earlier this month, a 39-year-old Seattle resident of Sikh heritage was shot by a man who reportedly shouted “go back to your country” just before pulling the trigger.

Weeks before that incident, a pair of Indian engineers were targeted by a Navy veteran who told them the same thing before blasting away at them. One of the men ended up dying and the other was wounded.

“They’re gonna spin it however they want, but there is a palatable fear that people have in this country and it is warranted,” Chauhan said. “On a regular basis, Mr. Spicer consistently defends the actions — and I believe unconstitutional actions — and lies on behalf of this administration.

“Spicer has the protection of the podium when he’s in the press room,” she added. “I didn’t have time to sit there and ask questions I would ask if I was a reporter…Maybe having someone like a regular person ask those questions instead [of reporters] — that might work.”

(h/t New York Post)

Media

Conway Denies Suggesting Wider Surveillance of Trump

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway is denying she suggested there was wider surveillance of President Donald Trump during the campaign, telling CNN Monday that her comments in a recent interview were taken out of context.

Sunday night, Conway appeared to expand Trump’s allegations that the Obama administration wiretapped his phones at Trump Tower — a claim for which the President has not yet provided evidence — when she told the Bergen Record there could have been even wider spying on the Trump campaign, including the use of microwaves and television sets.

She did not provide any evidence for the claims.

Pressed about the comments by CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “New Day,” Conway insisted she was not alleging actions by the Obama administration against the Trump campaign.

“I was answering a question about surveillance techniques generally,” she said.

When Cuomo pressed Conway on her answer — saying the question posed to her was “asked specifically” rather than generally — Conway shot back, countering that she was not responsible for providing proof of such surveillance.

“I’m not Inspector Gadget,” Conway said. “I don’t believe people are using the microwave to spy on the Trump campaign. However, I’m not in the job of having evidence; that’s what investigations are for.

Rather than alluding to wider surveillance of the Trump campaign, she said she was simply noting that there were news reports of advanced technologies that facilitate spying, an observation that had been warped thanks to people’s desires to “fit things how they want,” Conway said.

“I was talking about surveillance generally, but people are going to fit that the way they want to fit it,” Conway said.

When Cuomo brought up current controversy over Trump campaign officials’ relations with Russian politicians — “this seems to be a distraction” from that controversy, Cuomo said — Conway shot back.

“Maybe (it seems that way) to you and maybe to other people who don’t necessarily want Donald Trump to be president, but to other people, they see it as what it was — talking about news articles and talking about surveillance generally,” Conway answered.

“My questioning of you … is not about not wanting the President to be President,” Cuomo countered. “That’s unfair and it’s hurtful because you are feeding people’s animosity.”

“Feeding people’s animosity? Look over your shoulder,” Conway shot back. “I have 24/7 Secret Service protection because of people feeding people’s animosity. Don’t claim that privilege.”

(h/t CNN)

Media

Following Embarrassingly Bad Conway Interviews, Trump Slams ‘Rude’ Media

President Donald Trump complained Monday morning that members of the media have treated officials from his administration rudely and advised the media that “you will do much better” if his officials are treated nicely.

Trump’s tweet, which did not reference any specific interactions between his administration and the media, followed interviews with counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway on four networks.

“It is amazing how rude much of the media is to my very hard working representatives. Be nice, you will do much better!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

On ABC’s “Good Morning America,” anchor George Stephanopoulos challenged Conway to explain an interview she gave to the Bergen (N.J.) Record, in which she seemingly suggested that former President Barack Obama had used household electronics such as televisions, computers and smart phones inside Trump’s Manhattan skyscraper to spy on him.

Asked for evidence to support such a claim, Conway said she had none and insisted that she had been speaking about surveillance broadly and not leveling a specific allegation against Obama.

In response to a similar line of questioning on CNN’s “New Day,” a program Conway and other White House officials have largely avoided in recent weeks, the counselor to the president said it was not her responsibility to provide evidence for an allegation.

“I’m not Inspector Gadget. I don’t believe people are using the microwave to spy on the Trump campaign,” she said. “However, I’m not in the job of having evidence. That’s what investigations are for.”

CNN host Chris Cuomo pushed Conway on the issue, asking her why she even raised the use of household gadgets for surveillance purposes if it were not her intention to imply that Obama had done just that inside Trump Tower. “The question is why were you doing that?” Cuomo said. “Because this goes to personal integrity.”

“I’m allowed to talk about things that are in the news without you questioning anybody’s personal integrity,” Conway replied. Accusations that she intentionally leveled an allegation against Obama without evidence have come from at least in part from “other people who don’t necessarily want Donald Trump to be the president,” she said.

And on NBC’s “Today,” Conway struggled to offer an explanation as to why the White House trumpeted a positive jobs report last week as an early success of the Trump administration when the president regularly derided similarly positive reports as phony and inaccurate when they were released during the Obama administration.

Conway’s justification for the discrepancy, under repeated questioning from “Today” hosts Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie, was to say that “there’s a lot of fakery going on for people who were promised something that never came to be,” during the Obama administration, pointing to broken promises on health care as an example.

Lauer and Guthrie also sought answers from Conway about her Trump Tower surveillance remarks over the weekend, questions that prompted the counselor to the president to criticize the media for talking too much about Trump’s wiretapping claim.

“Can I stop you right there? The media did not bring up this topic. President Trump did,” Guthrie interjected as Conway sought to steer the conversation away from the president’s claim that Obama tapped his phones during the election. Conway replied that the media has focused too much on the wiretapping allegation and not enough on health care and other issues “that the American people also want to hear about.”

“All the more reason to question why it is that he would bring that up and then therefore throw the discussion” away from the White House’s preferred topics, Guthrie replied. “I mean, it isn’t like something a blogger wrote. It’s something the president of the United States accused his predecessor of tapping his phone.”

(h/t Politico)

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