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obama ordered donald trump wiretapping

President Donald Trump’s claims that he was wiretapped by former President Barack Obama were not meant literally, White House press secretary Sean Spicer says.

He said President Trump had broadly meant “surveillance and other activities” when he made the allegation in a tweet earlier this month.

Sean Spicer also suggested Donald Trump was not accusing his predecessor specifically.

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”.

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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?”

Despite repeated requests, the White House has not given any evidence for the claim.

The White House has instead asked Congress to examine the allegation as part of an investigation into alleged Russian meddling in last year’s election.

A spokesman for Barack Obama has said the accusation is “simply false”.

“The president used the word wiretap in quotes to mean broadly surveillance and other activities,” Sean Spicer told reporters.

“There’s a whole host of tactics that can be used to monitor somebody either through wiretap or other ways,” he added, without giving details.

Sean Spicer also suggested President Trump was referring to the actions of the Obama administration and not accusing the former president directly.

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.


James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence at the time of the US election, has denied there was any wire-tapping of Donald Trump or his campaign.

He told NBC that he knew of no court order to allow monitoring of Trump Tower in New York.

Donald Trump had accused President Barack Obama of ordering the wiretap but offered no evidence.

The White House has asked Congress to examine whether the Obama administration abused its powers.

Meanwhile, the New York Times quoted senior officials as saying that FBI director James Comey had asked the justice department to publicly dismiss President Trump’s allegation this weekend.

The officials were quoted as saying that James Comey believed there was no evidence to support the allegation, which he thought insinuated the FBI had broken the law.

However, the DoJ has made no such statement, and the Times said neither it nor the FBI had officially commented.

James Clapper, who left his post when Donald Trump took office on 20 January, told NBC’s Meet the Press: “There was no such wire-tap activity mounted against the president-elect at the time, as a candidate, or against his campaign.”

He said that as intelligence director he would have known about any “court order on something like this. Absolutely, I can deny it”.

However, James Clapper added: “I can’t speak for other authorized entities in the government or a state or local entity.”

Some media reports had suggested a warrant was sought from the foreign intelligence surveillance court (FISA) in order to monitor members of the Trump team suspected of irregular contacts with Russian officials.

James Clapper’s comments appear to contradict the reports, which said that a warrant was at first turned down, but then approved in October 2016.

Under FISA, wire-tapping can only be approved if there is probable cause to believe that the target of the surveillance is an agent of a foreign power. President Obama could not lawfully have ordered such a warrant.

In his interview, James Clapper also said that no evidence had been found of collusion between the Trump team and the Russian government.

Donald Trump, who has faced intense scrutiny over alleged Russian interference in support of his presidential bid, made his wire-tapping allegation in tweets written from his weekend home in Florida early on Saturday.

The president called the alleged tapping “Nixon/Watergate”, referring to the notorious political scandal of 1972, which led to the downfall of President Richard Nixon.

Donald Trump’s claims sparked Republican and Democrat politicians alike to demand details to back them up. Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio was the latest, saying on March 5 that “the White House will have to answer as to exactly what he was referring to”.

However, in his series of tweets on March 5, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer did not provide any further evidence.

Sean Spicer said: “Reports concerning potentially politically motivated investigations immediately ahead of the 2016 election are very troubling.

“President Trump is requesting that as part of their investigation into Russian activity, the congressional intelligence committees exercise their oversight authority to determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016.”

The press secretary added: “Neither the White House nor the President will comment further until such oversight is conducted.”

White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told ABC News that if President Trump’s allegations were true, “this is the greatest overreach and the greatest abuse of power that I think we’ve ever seen and a huge attack on democracy itself”.

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”.

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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”.

President Trump has come under constant pressure from FBI and congressional investigations into alleged contacts between his aides and Russian officials during the election campaign.