Advertisement

White House asks Congress to investigate alleged wiretaps by predecessor

By
Allen Cone
President Donald Trump outlines his defense budget aboard the Gerald R. Ford at Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Virginia on Thursday. The White House on Sunday called for Congress to investigate whether the Obama administration abused its investigative powers during the 2016 election. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
President Donald Trump outlines his defense budget aboard the Gerald R. Ford at Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Virginia on Thursday. The White House on Sunday called for Congress to investigate whether the Obama administration abused its investigative powers during the 2016 election. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

March 5 (UPI) -- The White House on Sunday asked Congress to investigate whether the Obama administration abused its investigative powers during the 2016 presidential election.

The White House announcement comes one day after President Donald Trump accused former President Barack Obama, without providing evidence, of wiretapping his phones in Trump Tower before the November election in a series of Twitter posts.

Advertisement

"Reports concerning potentially politically motivated investigations immediately ahead of the 2016 election are very troubling," White House press secretary Sean Spicer said, posting the statement on Twitter. "President Donald J. 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."

Spicer added, "Neither the White House nor the president will comment further until such oversight is conducted."

RELATED Thousands take part in 'March 4 Trump' rallies across the United States

Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, appearing Sunday on ABC's This Week, reiterated calls for an investigation.

"All we're saying is let's take a closer look," she said. "Let's look into this. If this happened, if this is accurate, this is the biggest overreach and the biggest scandal."

Advertisement

Trump's tweets about alleged wiretapping appear to refer to a Breitbart article published Friday that said there was a series of "known steps taken by President Barack Obama's administration in its last months to undermine Donald Trump's presidential campaign and, later, his new administration."

RELATED Arnold Schwarzenegger won't return for second season of 'Celebrity Apprentice'

Stephen Bannon, who is Trump's chief strategist, once led Breitbart News.

"Look, I think he's made very clear what he believes," Sanders said. "And he's asking that we get down to the bottom of this. Let's get the truth here. Let's find out. I think the bigger story isn't who reported it, but is it true? And I think the American people have a right to know if this happened, because if it did, again this is the largest abuse of power that I think we have ever seen."

Former officials in the Obama administration have denied Trump's allegations.

RELATED Top Trump advisers reveal meeting with Russian ambassador

Former director of national intelligence James Clapper insisted "there was no such wiretap activity" of Trump Tower before the election in the national security apparatus he oversaw.

Asked on NBC's Meet the Press whether there was a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Act order to monitor Trump Tower, Clapper said, "Not to my knowledge."

Advertisement

Obama White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on This Week only judges approve wiretaps based on evidence in a criminal or counterintelligence investigation.

"The president of the United States does not have the authority to unilaterally order the wiretapping of an American citizen," he said.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Trump is making false allegations to distract attention from investigations into possible contacts among the Trump campaign and Russians involved in hacking Democratic officials to influence the election.

Pelosi said on CNN's State of the Union: "What do the Russians have on Donald Trump?"

Earlier in a 6:40 a.m. tweet, Trump wrote, "Who was it that secretly said to Russian President, 'Tell Vladimir that after the election I'll have more flexibility?'"

Trump, who is spending the weekend at his private club in Palm Beach, Fla., was referring to a March 2012 incident when Obama told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that the United States would have more "more flexibility" in talks about a missile defense treaty after the November elections.

The remark was picked up on a hot mic the leaders apparently did not know was on.

Advertisement

In a tweet one hour earlier, Trump wrote about the hacking: "Is it true the DNC would not allow the FBI access to check server or other equipment after learning it was hacked? Can that be possible?"

Latest Headlines