But Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee and former prosecutor in the FBI, said his panel hopes to “look like idiots.” Trump’s tweet Wednesday morning accused former President Barack Obama of wiretapping his phones. “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” the president wrote. No evidence has now been presented to substantiate Trump’s claim.
House Intelligence Committee chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) speaks to reporters in the Dirksen Senate building on March 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Obama did in fact tap some of Trump’s phones during the campaign and transition, but he had no authority to do so. What has been widely disputed by the press is the fact that Obama used the same wiretapping powers that Trump has suggested he was surveilled on. During a recent interview, Trump accused former Obama officials of covering up evidence that he could have the President’s tax returns. “It’s important for us to get that out. It’s very important for us to get it out as fast as we possibly can because we’ve got to get it out in a court of law,” Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt. The White House on Sunday tried to clarify the president’s comments. “In a debate like this you don’t usually hear things like wiretapping that are so specific that you’re going back to Watergate and Watergate,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said on ABC’s This Week. “But this is the old showbusiness ‘You’re the boss so you can do whatever you want.’ And it should be clear to everyone who has been following the president that he meant exactly what he said.” On Saturday, Obama said he wouldn’t provide transcripts of Trump’s phone calls. He said they were “unwarranted.” The New York Times wrote a follow-up story that reported: “The White House initially disputed the reports, issuing a statement that seemed to question the legitimacy of Mr. Trump’s tweets.
“The President was not under investigation as part of any probe,” the White House said. “He had nothing to do with Russian interference in the election. He had nothing to do with putting the finger on Moscow, so that’s a pretty thin reed on which to base assertions that the President was allegedly wiretapped…. The first thing our president should do is ask the Department of Justice to provide the American people the facts. The American people expect there to be truth, there to be transparency about any probe and any investigation.”
Former attorney general Michael Mukasey, appearing on ABC’s This Week , said Trump’s tweets were “a little ridiculous” and that officials would not have done it. “I will tell you right now, that the president as somebody who is in the position of the president, does not get to direct the FBI to do anything that they don’t think will add value and add value to the nation,” Mukasey said. “My guess is this has become very typical for what we call in Washington the bureaucracy, this is not unusual. But it is what it is.”
Former CIA director John Brennan has been called a “liar” by some after he said the Russian government orchestrated hacks in order to help Trump win the election (even though the FBI has declared an official investigation by the U.S. intelligence community into the Russian government’s role in the interference). Brennan then went on CBS’ Face The Nation and argued Trump didn’t need Congress to provide information on his wiretap claims. “There’s no reason why the president should be required to get a sitting senator or a sitting congressperson’s permission to get publicly accurate information that’s already publicly available,” Brennan said. “I’ve been the CIA director for six years. I don’t think so.” Other lawmakers, however, are skeptical of Trump’s claims that he was wiretapped. Rep. Darrell Issa of California said he wasn’t sure the president had been spied on. “I’m not sure I can comment on that at this time,” he said on CNN. Rep. Devin Nunes, the House chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said President Barack Obama “hasn’t been forthcoming” with any information on his administration’s wiretapping claims. Nunes made this claims during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet The Press” with Chuck Todd. “At home, at the White House, right in the Situation Room: listening to the president’s phones and sitting across the table from the president – talking to him on the phone.” “He’s the head of state, he’s the commander in chief,” Nunes said, when pressed to confirm whether Trump was wiretapped. “I can only tell you a number of times that we have heard that before from different administration officials, that it’s not the practice of the president to interfere with the FBI investigation.”
Ryan also on “Meet The Press,” on Feb. 6.
Former CIA Director John Brennan. REUTERS
Former President Barack Obama issued an impassioned plea for information