Donald Trump made his wiretapping jibe in a joint press conference with Angela Merkel. She gave a quizzical look.
The president was also asked about a comment by White House press secretary Sean Spicer that the UK’s GCHQ spy agency had carried out wiretapping on candidate Donald Trump during the election campaign.
Donald Trump said Sean Spicer had been quoting a comment on Fox TV. The president said he had not offered an opinion on it, adding: “You shouldn’t be talking to me, you should be talking to Fox.”
Image source NBC
Fox later read out a statement on air, saying: “Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now president of the United States was surveilled at any time in any way, full stop.”
GCHQ rejected the allegations against it as “nonsense” and Downing Street says it has been assured the US will not repeat the claims.
President Trump was also asked if he regretted any of his regular tweets. He said “very seldom”, adding that it was a way to “get round the media when it doesn’t tell the truth”.
The body language was at times awkward. In an earlier photo opportunity in the White House, Angela Merkel asked him quietly: “Do you want a handshake?”
Donald Trump looked forwards with his hands clasped and did not reply.
President Trump reiterated his strong support for the alliance, but also “the need for our NATO allies to pay their fair share for the cost of defense”.
Germany is among many NATO members that do not meet the benchmark 2% of GDP to be spent on defense.
Angela Merkel said Germany was committed to increasing its defense spending.
On trade, President Trump bristled at a suggestion that he believed in “isolationist” policies. He told the reporter asking the question: “I don’t know what newspaper you’re reading, but I guess that would be an example of fake news.”
Donald Trump added: “I believe a policy of trade should be a fair trade. And the United States has been treated very, very unfairly by many countries over the years and that’s going to stop.”
Angela Merkel, who was travelling with top executives from German companies Siemens, Schaeffler and BMW, said she hoped the US and the EU could resume talks on removing barriers to bilateral trade.
Meanwhile, the DoJ has asked for more time to provide information about the allegations.
A congressional committee had set a March 13 deadline for the department to provide any evidence of President Trump’s claims but a spokeswoman said it needed “additional time… to determine what if any responsive documents may exist”.
Image source Wikipedia
The House Intelligence Committee said it would give the department until March 20 to comply with its request.
In his tweet President Trump said: “Just found out that Obama had my <<wires tapped>> in Trump Tower just before the victory.”
He added: “Is it legal for a sitting President to be <<wire tapping>> a race for president?”
Earlier, Senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said she did not have any evidence to back up the wiretapping claim but said there were “many ways to survey each other now”.
“You can survey someone through their phones, certainly through their television sets – any number of ways… microwaves that turn into cameras. We know this is a fact of modern life,” Kellyanne Conway told New Jersey’s Bergen County Record.
President Donald Trump’s accusation that Barack Obama ordered his phones to be tapped is “simply false”, the former president’s spokesman, Kevin Lewis, has said.
Kevin Lewis said that “neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any US citizen”.
President Trump had tweeted: “Terrible! Just found out Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”
The president gave no details to back the claim.
In his statement, Kevin Lewis said a “cardinal rule of the Obama Administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice”.
Image source AP
The statement left open the possibility that a judicial investigation was taking place.
Earlier Ben Rhodes, who was President Obama’s foreign policy adviser and speechwriter, also addressed Donald Trump’s claims in a tweet, saying: “No President can order a wiretap. Those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you.”
Donald Trump, who is at his Florida resort, fired off a series of tweets from just after 06:30 local time on March 4.
The president called the alleged tapping “a new low” and said “This is Nixon/Watergate” – referring to the most notorious political scandal of 1972, which led to the downfall of President Richard Nixon after a web of political spying, sabotage and bribery was exposed by the media.
McCarthyism, which Donald Trump referred to in one of the first posts, relates to the persecution for US Communists and their allies led by Senator Joe McCarthy in the 1950s.
The tweets followed allegations made by conservative radio host Mark Levin, which were later picked up by Breitbart News, the website run by Steve Bannon before he became Donald Trump’s chief strategist.
Mark Levin said there should be a congressional investigation into what he called President Obama’s “police state” tactics in his last months in office to undermine Donald Trump’s campaign.
Breitbart summarizes Mark Levin’s accusations, which say that “the Obama administration sought, and eventually obtained, authorization to eavesdrop on the Trump campaign; continued monitoring the Trump team even when no evidence of wrongdoing was found; then relaxed the NSA (National Security Agency) rules to allow evidence to be shared widely within the government”.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.