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US House Panel Awaits Trump's Evidence in Wiretap Claim Against Obama

  • Ken Bredemeier

The U.S. House Intelligence Committee has given President Donald Trump until Monday to provide evidence on his so-far unfounded claim that his phones at Trump Tower in New York were wiretapped during last year's presidential campaign.

Last week, the president wrote on Twitter that former President Barack Obama, a Democrat, had the phones at Trump headquarters tapped, but the Republican Trump has offered no evidence. The president tweeted, "Terrible. Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism."

Committee chairman Devin Nunes, a Republican, and Adam Schiff, the committee's ranking Democrat, sent a letter to Trump requesting the evidence to support his wiretap claim.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, listens at left, as the committee's ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., talk to reporters on Capitol Hill, March 2, 2017.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, listens at left, as the committee's ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., talk to reporters on Capitol Hill, March 2, 2017.

An Obama spokesman has said Trump's charges are "simply false." Trump has not commented on the wiretaps since the tweets.

McCain on wiretap claim

On Sunday, Senator John McCain of Arizona told CNN, "The president has one of two choices: Either retract or provide the information that the American people deserve. Because if his predecessor violated the law, President Obama violated the law, we’ve got a serious issue here, to say the least.”

McCain said he has "no reason to believe the charges are true."

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 8, 2017.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 8, 2017.

Under U.S. law, a president cannot order someone's phone to be wiretapped. He would need approval by a federal judge and would also have to show reasonable grounds to suspect why a citizen's telephone calls should be monitored, such as if he were suspected of criminal wrongdoing. The White House said last week that Trump is not under criminal investigation.

The wiretap charges are part of congressional investigations into the details behind the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that Russia meddled in the presidential election to help Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton, a former U.S. secretary of state, and Trump campaign contacts with Russian officials before and after the November vote.

U.S. intelligence concluded Russia hacked into the computer of Clinton campaign chief John Podesta, with the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks then releasing thousands of his emails in the weeks before the election that showed embarrassing behind-the-scenes efforts by Democratic operatives to help Clinton win the party's presidential nomination.

McCain, the losing 2008 Republican presidential nominee, said "there's a lot of shoes to drop" about information between Trump associates and Russia.

McCain said he was troubled why his own party removed a provision from its political platform last year calling for a U.S. dispatch of defensive weapons to Ukraine to help in Kyiv's fight against pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

“Clearly, it was not the will of most Republicans,” McCain said. “There’s a lot of aspects with this whole relationship with Russia and Vladimir Putin that requires further scrutiny, and so far I don’t think the American people have gotten all the answers."

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