Once again, the White House backpedaling quickly, if ineffectively, on one of President Donald Trump’s allegations, claiming he didn’t really mean what he said.
In the first week of March, the POTUS tweeted claims, stating he believes Obama wiretapped him in the Trump Tower just before the election.
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
However, until now, the White House hasn't been able to prove — or even provide evidence of — Trump’s allegations. The best it could do is demand Congress investigate Trump's wild accusations while alluding to the fact that it held secret proof Trump was unwilling to share.
"As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false,” Obama spokesman Kevin Lewis said.
Now, in a surprising turn of events, Sean Spicer has said that Trump didn’t actually mean “wiretapping” in his tweets, but instead was referring to “surveillance and other activities.” However, it is important to note that the term wiretapping specifically refers to tapping into a phone wire to obtain information.
Spicer further claimed Trump was not specifically blaming Obama for the wiretapping but was broadly referring to the Obama administration’s involvement.
Interestingly, Spicer and Trump aren’t the only ones in the White House who are confused about surveillance techniques. Just over the weekend, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said in an interview that Obama could have used various devices to gain inside information on the Trump campaign, including microwaves.
“What I can say is there are many ways to surveil each other. You can surveil someone through their phones, certainly through their television sets — any number of ways,” Conway said.
She later clarified that she was not accusing the former president of spying on Trump via kitchen appliances and that her comments had been taken out of context.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Jonathan Ernst