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trump tower wiretapping


Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, has apologized for not informing Democratic colleagues before going public with allegations about surveillance of President Donald Trump’s team.

He apologized privately and vowed to work with them on the issue, a committee aide said.

Democrats were furious that Devin Nunes went straight to the White House.

They questioned whether the committee’s inquiry into Russia’s alleged role in the election can proceed objectively.

On March 22, Devin Nunes said he had been passed information showing that the post-election communications of Donald Trump’s team had been swept up in an “incidental collection” by intelligence agencies.

The California Republican stressed the allegation did not back President Trump’s claim that Barack Obama ordered Trump Tower wiretapped before last November’s vote.

However, when Donald Trump was asked if he now felt vindicated for his accusations against his predecessor, he answered: “I somewhat do. I very much appreciated the fact that they found what they found.”

Image source Wikimedia

The US intelligence agencies regularly, and legally, monitor foreigners, and the communication of Americans is often incidentally collected. They are not usually named but can be if the context of the intelligence requires it.

Devin Nunes said the material he had seen “bothered” him and that the unmasking of individuals, and the content of some of the material gathered, was “inappropriate”.

Of his decision to go public and brief President Trump, Devin Nunes said: “It was a judgment call on my part.

“Sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you make the wrong decision.”

A Republican intelligence committee aide told Reuters: “He apologized to the minority on the committee for going public and to the [White House] with his announcement before sharing the information with the minority. He pledged to work with them on this issue.”

Devin Nunes had also stressed that the information in the intercepts he had seen was not linked to an FBI investigation into alleged links between the Trump team and Russian officials during the election campaign.

However, Democrats said Devin Nunes’ actions could scupper the House panel’s investigation.

Democrat Jackie Speier, who serves on the committee, said: “I think over the next few days we are going to assess whether or not we feel confident that [Devin Nunes] can continue in that role.”

Democrat Adam Schiff said: “A credible investigation cannot be conducted this way.”

Devin Nunes has refused to reveal who passed him the information.

When asked whether it was the White House itself, he said he was “not going to ever reveal sources”.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said: “I don’t know why he would come up to the president to brief him on something we had briefed him on.”

Devin Nunes’ disclosure came two days after FBI Director James Comey confirmed the organization was investigating alleged links between the Trump team and Russian officials.

Adam Schiff on Wednesday told MSNBC he believed there was evidence “that is not circumstantial and is very much worthy of an investigation” about the links.

President Donald Trump is standing by his claim that former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower in 2016.

The president told Fox News a “wiretap covers a lot of different things” and hinted more could emerge in the coming weeks.

Barack Obama has denied the charge and former spy chiefs and several lawmakers have said they have seen no evidence.

The latest senior figure to cast doubt on the allegation was the Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee, Devin Nunes.

He said on March 15 he doesn’t believe “there was an actual tap of Trump Tower”.

Earlier this month, President Trump tweeted that President Obama had wiretapped his phones during the presidential campaign.

In a series of tweets, Donald Trump accused his predecessor directly, asking: “Is it legal for a sitting President to be <<wire tapping>> a race for president?”

Image source Wikipedia

Talking to Fox News in an interview that was broadcast in full on March 15, he made his first comments about the wiretap accusation he made two weeks ago.

Donald Trump said: “Wiretap covers a lot of different things. I think you’re going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.”

Despite repeated requests from reporters, the White House has not provided any evidence to support his claim.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has said President Trump “used the word <<wiretap>> in quotes to mean broadly surveillance and other activities”.

Sean Spicer also said that President Trump was not accusing Barack Obama personally.

Donald Trump asked Congress to examine the allegation as part of an investigation into alleged Russian meddling in last year’s election.

Senator Lindsey Graham, who is leading the Senate Judiciary Committee’s investigation of allegations of Trump-Russia ties, has pressed the FBI to come forward with more details of its own probe into the issue.

Lindsey Graham said on March 15 he would use a court order to force FBI Director James Comey to submit details on its Russian investigation and whether there was any evidence of Donald Trump’s phones being wiretapped.

James Comey promised on March 15 to provide answers in a classified briefing.

Intelligence agencies found that Russia conducted cyber-attacks against the Democratic Party as part of an effort to influence the election in Donald Trump’s favor.

Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement.

Donald Trump has been dogged by claims that his advisers and staff had ties to Russian officials, but there has been no evidence of any collusion between his campaign and Moscow.


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 has been urged to provide evidence to back his allegation that former President Barack Obama ordered his phones to be tapped during the election campaign.

Republican Senator Ben Sasse said the president’s comments were “serious” and he should explain the alleged wiretapping and how he came to know about it.

Donald Trump has supplied no details to back his claim.

Yesterday, Barack Obama’s spokesman, Kevin Lewis, said the former president had never ordered surveillance of any US citizen.

Donald Trump’s tweets follow allegations made by conservative radio host Mark Levin, including that the Obama administration “sought, and eventually obtained, authorization to eavesdrop” on the Trump campaign last year.

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

The warrant was first turned down but then reportedly approved in October 2016, though there has been no official confirmation.

Under FISA, wiretapping 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 Barack Obama could not lawfully have ordered such a warrant.

Donald Trump, who has been facing intense scrutiny over alleged Russian interference in support of his election campaign, made the allegation in a series of tweets on March 4.

Writing from his weekend home in Florida, Donald Trump called the alleged tapping “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.

Kevin Lewis said the accusation was “simply false”.

He said that 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”.

The statement left open the possibility that a judicial investigation had been taking place.

Earlier Ben Rhodes, who was Barack Obama’s foreign policy adviser and speechwriter, also addressed Donald Trump’s claims in a tweet, saying: “No President can order a wire-tap. Those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you.”