WASHINGTON — Leaders of the Senate Intelligence committee said on Thursday there is no indication of Trump Tower wiretapping before or after election, shooting down the president’s explosive allegations that his predecesor eavesdropped on him.
In a series of early morning tweets on March 4, President Donald Trump accused then-President Barack Obama of wiretapping his Ne wYork skyscraper during the presidential campaign.
“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” Trump tweeted at 6:35 a.m. on March 4.
“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!” the following tweet read.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Wednesday he had not given Trump any reason to believe he was wiretapped by Obama.
Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House intelligence committee, said he had seen no information to support the claim and then went further. He suggested the U.S. president’s assertion, made in a series of March 4 tweets, should not be taken at face value.
“Are you going to take the tweets literally?” Nunes said. “If so, clearly the president was wrong.”
Trump, in an interview Wednesday with Fox News, predicted there would be “some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.” The president said he’d learned about the alleged wiretapping from news reports referencing intercepted communications, despite the fact that he and his advisers have publicly denounced stories about government agencies reviewing contacts between Trump associates and Russians.
The White House and Trump himself have been retreating from the president’s stunning accusation.
“When I say wiretapping, those words were in quotes. That really covers — because wiretapping is pretty old-fashioned stuff — but that really covers surveillance and many other things. And nobody ever talks about the fact that it was in quotes, but that’s a very important thing,” Trump told Fox News Wednesday.
House Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday said that “no such wiretap existed,” citing intelligence reports to House leaders.
“The intelligence committees, in their continuing, widening, ongoing investigations of all things Russia, got to the bottom — at least so far with respect to our intelligence community — that no such wiretap existed,” Ryan said in response to a question from CNN at a news conference.
The Associated Press and CNN contributed to this report.