President Trump on Saturday claimed President Obama had his “wires tapped” in Trump Tower before Election Day, tweeting the accusation without offering evidence.
“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” he wrote.
“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!” he added in subsequent tweets. “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!”
A spokesman for Obama issued a statement denying that his White House had interfered in Justice Department investigations or ordered surveillance on any American, much less Trump.
“A cardinal rule of the Obama Administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice,” Obama spokesman Kevin Lewis said.
“As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen,” he added. “Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.”
It was not immediately clear whether Trump had any proof or was referencing a report. Breitbart News on Friday reported on conservative radio host Mark Levin’s claim that Obama executed a “silent coup” of Trump via “police state” tactics. White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon was the executive chair of Breitbart before joining Trump’s team.
Observers have noted the president’s tendency to tweet things — including a 2003 photo tweeted Friday of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) with Russian President Vladimir Putin — shortly after they were published on pro-Trump blogs like Gateway Pundit or conservative websites like Drudge Report.
Moments earlier, Trump had also linked Obama to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s meetings last year with Russia’s U.S. ambassador.
“The first meeting Jeff Sessions had with the Russian Amb was set up by the Obama Administration under education program for 100 Ambs,” he tweeted.
Sessions on Thursday said he would recuse himself from any investigations into Russia’s links to Trump’s team, after massive outrage over the revelations that he met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak twice during the campaign, then denied doing so during his confirmation hearings.
Trump on Saturday also blasted Obama for meeting with Kislyak 22 times while president, tweeting: “Just out: The same Russian Ambassador that met Jeff Sessions visited the Obama White House 22 times, and 4 times last year alone.”
Trump’s team has sought to push back on accusations of coziness with Russia by pointing out instances of Democrats meeting with Kislyak. Critics have responded that the issue isn’t that Sessions met with the ambassador, but that he falsely told Congress he hadn’t while under oath.
Former national security advisor Michael Flynn was ousted last month after revelations that he misled top White House officials about the nature of his conversations with Kislyak.
(h/t The Hill)
Donald Trump appears to have read this in an article from Breitbart news, who repeated claim from right-wing talk radio host Mark Levin. Both offered zero evidence for this claim.
If this is true then Trump’s claim would be important for two reasons:
- Presidents do not have the authority to wiretap a private citizen’s phone, Barack Obama would be the first.
- Since federal judges are the only once with the authority to wiretap a phone, and they can’t do it without probable cause, that means Trump did something very wrong and is under investigation.