“The Late Show” host Stephen Colbert asked the former director of the National Security Agency a question that’s lately been on everyone’s mind.
“On Saturday morning, at 6:35 in the morning the president tweeted that Barack Obama wiretapped him in Trump Tower. Is that possible?” the host asked the retired U.S. Air Force four-star general and former CIA director, Michael Hayden.
“No,” was Hayden’s immediate reply.
“How is that not possible?” Colbert asked before stating the U.S. government does have the power to spy and there were rumors about Russian ties with Trump’s campaign.
“Because in the 1970s we took the authority to direct that action out of the hands of the president, and we put it in the hands of the federal court system,” the guest responded.
Only a federal judge can grant that authority, according to Hayden, and even that only upon two conditions: a) the intended target of the wiretap was an agent of foreign power or b) involved in criminal activity.
When Colbert asked if President Donald Trump could not have found out for himself if former President Obama had placed surveillance devices in his home, Hayden said to applause:
“That’s what I wondered, what happened? On Saturday morning, he seemed to have forgotten that he was the president of the United States.”
Trump could have asked former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Jim Comey for lunch and asked him if his predecessor had done that.
“He did not choose to do that. He decided to go ahead and tweet out the accusation, as if it were fact,” Hayden said.
Should he have asked the two officials about the wiretap, Trump would have gotten the same “No” from both of them.
A day after the allegations surfaced, Clapper was asked on “Meet the Press” to confirm or deny whether a court order existed to eavesdrop on Trump Tower. He said, “I can deny it” and that he would “absolutely” have known it if such a thing existed.
Comey also knocked down Trump’s accusations by requesting the Justice Department officials issue a statement rejecting the wiretapping claim. As of yet, the department has not done so, which isn’t a surprise, since it is headed by Trump-appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
To watch the full video, click above.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Gary Cameron