PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Donald Trump is accusing former President Barack Obama of having Trump’s telephones “wire tapped” during last year’s election, but Trump isn’t offering any evidence or saying what prompted the allegation.
Trump says in a series of tweets that he “just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower.”
Obama spokesman Kevin Lewis released a statement early Saturday afternoon, calling Trump’s allegations “simply false”:
“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. As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.”
No comment has yet been made by the White House.
Trump may have been referring to commentary from right-wing news outlet Breitbart and conservative talk radio suggesting that the Obama administration used “police state” tactics last fall to monitor the Trump team. Details of alleged “police state” tactics have not been confirmed.
An anonymous former senior intelligence official familiar with surveillance law told the Washington Post that the occurrence of a wiretap by the Obama administration is “highly unlikely,” and a wiretap cannot be directed at a U.S. facility without probable cause that phone lines or internet addresses were being using by agents of a foreign power or someone acting on behalf of a foreign government.
“It seems unthinkable,” the official said. “If that were the case by some chance, that means that a federal judge would have found that there was either probable cause that he had committed a crime or was an agent of a foreign power… you can’t just go around and tap buildings.”
Trump’s tweets, sent from Palm Beach, could be in response to Democrat’s outcry following revelations that Attorney General Jeff Sessions — in his confirmation hearings — didn’t disclose his contacts with Russia’s American ambassador during the campaign. Sessions — a senator at that time — was Trump’s earliest Senate supporter.
U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded Russia influenced the election to help Trump win.