White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday in an interview that President Donald Trump does not accept FBI Director James Comey's assertion that former President Barack Obama did not wiretap the Trump Tower.
During the interview with ABC, host George Stephanopoulos asked Sanders if Trump was willing to accept Comey's assertion on the wiretapping accusations, to which the spokeswoman replied:
“You know, I don't think he does, ... think he firmly believes that this is a storyline that has been reported pretty widely by quite a few outlets. The wiretapping has been discussed in The New York Times, BBC, Fox News and we believe that it should be looked at by the House Intelligence Committee.”
But these news outlets didn't discuss the alleged wiretapping, Stephanopoulos explained. And over the course of their five-and-a-half minute interview, the host interrupted Sanders several times to make that point.
Over the weekend, Trump took to Twitter to make the accusations. Unsurprisingly, he failed to deliver any evidence to back his claims. His actions appear to have prompted Comey to ask the Department of Justice (DOJ) to reject the president's claims.
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
How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
It appears as if Trump was basing his accusations on a Breitbart story that had circulated among White House staff last week, the Washington Post reports. According to the “conspiracy” website, the Obama administration had filed Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act requests naming people associated with the Trump campaign as targets. The report claimed these requests were made due to the campaign's alleged collusion with Russian officials.
But now, the White House is claiming that they have “intelligence” that backs the president's claims.
In a “Fox & Friends” interview, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said that the president “has information and intelligence that the rest of us do not” when asked to discuss Trump's evidence showing Obama had, indeed, wiretapped the Trump Tower.
But whether or not he does have intelligence that backs his claims, he wasn't clear in his tweets. Is he not aware that his actions have consequences?
While Comey made no public comments on this subject, it's been reported that the FBI director said that the “highly charged claim” isn't true and that it must be corrected. Nevertheless, the department has yet to issue a statement.
After Trump's accusations came to light, Obama's spokesman also denied the charge, while James Clapper — the former director of national intelligence — has also said that Trump's accusations are groundless.
During her ABC interview, Sanders said that the president is a victim of the media's double standard. She pointed out to the Russia scandal as an example, saying that the media will report on Trump's alleged ties to the Kremlin repeatedly but won't investigate the wiretapping accusation.
But despite her claims, the president has failed to offer any evidence to back his claims. And as far as the Russia story goes, leaks and official records have already shown many on Trump's team have had contact with Russian officials.
Adding that if the president “walked across the Potomac, the media would report he can't swim,” Sanders failed to address the core of the issue: The fact Trump continues to make accusations without backing them with hard proof — showing he trusts "conspiracy" websites and highly partisan sources more than he does the intelligence officials under his command.
Will he ever learn to use his position to investigate claims before tweeting them out?
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Jonathan Drake