U.S. President Donald Trump aimed new broadsides Thursday at the investigations of his 2016 campaign, suggesting a U.S. intelligence authorization law was used to "badly surveil and abuse" his election operations.
Trump offered no evidence of eavesdropping. But he said the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act "may have been used" to keep watch on his campaign, along with "help of the discredited and phony" dossier compiled by operatives paid for by his Democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton, to collect information about Trump campaign links with Russia.
In Twitter comments related to the campaign that ended 15 months ago, Trump quoted a suggestion from his favorite morning news show, Fox and Friends, referring to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the country's top criminal investigative agency and the Democratic National Committee.
Months ago, Trump accused former president Barack Obama of wiretapping his campaign headquarters at Trump Tower in New York, a claim widely debunked by U.S. intelligence officials.
Trump's remarks about the surveillance act came as the House of Representatives is set Thursday to vote on renewal of a key section of the law that allows the National Security Agency to collect texts and emails of foreigners overseas without authorization, even when they are communicating with Americans.
Even with his concerns about alleged election surveillance of his campaign, the U.S. leader tweeted his support for renewing the eavesdropping law.
Trump's latest election commentary came hours after he said at a Wednesday news conference that it "seems unlikely" that he would need to meet with special counsel Robert Mueller about Mueller's criminal investigation into allegations that Trump's presidential campaign colluded with Russia to help him defeat Clinton.
He repeatedly said there was "no collusion" with Russia, adding, "It seems unlikely that you'd even have an interview." Months ago, he said there was a "100 percent" chance he would agree to an interview with Mueller.
"There is collusion," he said, "but it's really with the Democrats and the Russians." He added, "The witch hunt continues."
Mueller has indicated to Trump's lawyers that his team would like to interview the president as part of the investigation, which Trump has contended is a "Democratic hoax" used to explain his upset victory over Clinton, a former U.S. secretary of state.
Mueller is investigating several Trump campaign links to Russian operatives and also whether Trump obstructed justice by firing forming FBI director James Comey while he was heading the agency's Russia probe before Mueller, over Trump's objections, was appointed to take over the investigation.
So far, Mueller has secured guilty pleas from Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and a foreign affairs adviser, George Papadopoulos, for lying to FBI agents about their contacts with Russians. Two other key campaign aides, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, have been indicted on money-laundering charges related to their lobbying efforts for Ukraine.
Mueller's team has interviewed a number of Trump aides, including Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, while several congressional panels are also investigating Russian interference in the U.S. election.