Donald Trump’s wiretap claims have no basis, panel says

Senate committee finds no evidence Obama administration tapped Trump Tower phones

Trump Tower  in New York, US. File photograph: Carlo Allegri/Reuters

Trump Tower in New York, US. File photograph: Carlo Allegri/Reuters

 

The Republican and Democratic leaders of the US senate intelligence committee said on Thursday they saw no evidence to support US president Donald Trump’s claim that the Obama administration tapped his phones during the 2016 presidential election campaign.

“Based on the information available to us, we see no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element of the US government either before or after Election Day 2016,” Republican committee chairman Richard Burr and senator Mark Warner, the committee’s Democratic vice-chairman, said in a statement.

Mr Trump, a Republican, made the accusation in a series of early morning posts on Twitter on March 4th, six weeks after he took over the presidency from Democrat Barack Obama and amid rising scrutiny of his campaign’s ties to Russia.

The top Republican in Congress, House of Representatives speaker Paul Ryan, on Thursday added his voice to those rejecting Mr Trump’s claims.

“The point is, the intelligence committees in their continuing, widening, ongoing investigation of all things Russia, got to the bottom - at least so far - with respect to our intelligence community that - that no such wiretap existed,” Mr Ryan told reporters.

Mr Trump accused Mr Obama of wiretapping him during the late stages of the campaign, but provided no evidence.

Mr Obama said through a spokesman that it was “simply false”.

“How low has President Obama gone to tapp (sic) my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!” Mr Trump wrote.

Investigations

At least four congressional committees added the startling accusation to their investigations of possible Russian meddling in the election campaign and Russian ties to Mr Trump and his associates.

On Wednesday, House of Representatives intelligence committee chairman Devin Nunes, a Republican, and the committee’s top Democrat Adam Schiff told reporters they had seen no evidence that Trump Tower was tapped during the campaign.

They said they would ask FBI director James Comey about the issue during a public hearing on Monday.

Mr Ryan told reporters he received the same intelligence briefing as Mr Nunes and Mr Schiff.

Mr Trump appeared to back away from his accusation of wiretapping in a Fox News interview on Wednesday night.

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

Reuters