Trump claims Obama wiretapped phones
PALM BEACH, Fla.
President Donald Trump on Saturday accused former President Barack Obama of having Trump Tower telephones “wire tapped” during last year’s election, a startling claim that Obama’s spokesman said was false.
Trump did not offer any evidence or details, or say what prompted him to make the allegation.
Trump, whose administration has been under siege over campaign contacts with Russian officials, said in a series of early morning tweets that he “just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”
Obama spokesman Kevin Lewis said a “cardinal rule” of the Obama administration was that no White House official ever interfered in any Justice Department investigations, which are supposed to be conducted free of political influence.
“As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen,” Lewis said, adding that “any suggestion otherwise is simply false.”
The White House did not immediately reply to inquiries about what prompted the president’s tweets.
Trump, who used to speak of having a warm relationship with Obama, compared the alleged activity by his predecessor to behavior involving President Richard Nixon and the bugging of his political opponents.
“How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad [or sick] guy!” he tweeted, misspelling “tap.”
Trump said the wiretapping occurred in October. He ran the presidential transition largely out of Trump Tower in New York, where he also maintains a residence.
Trump’s tweets came days after revelations that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, during his Senate confirmation hearing, didn’t disclose his own campaign-season contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the United States. Sessions, a U.S. senator at the time, was Trump’s earliest Senate supporter.
Trump’s opening tweet Saturday mentioned Sessions and claimed the first meeting Sessions had with the Russian diplomat was “set up by the Obama Administration under education program for 100 Ambs ...”
U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered in the campaign with the goal of helping elect Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton – findings that Trump has dismissed. The FBI has investigated Trump associates’ ties to Russian officials. Congress is also investigating.
Trump has blamed Democrats for leaks of information about the investigation and the contacts.
Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement that Trump was making “the most outlandish and destructive claims without providing a scintilla of evidence to support them.”