14 Mar 2017 – Trump wiretap claims: White House softens stance on unproven tweets

Unsubstantiated claims by US President Donald Trump that he was wiretapped by Barack Obama were not meant literally, the White House press secretary says. Sean Spicer said Mr Trump had broadly meant “surveillance and other activities” when he made the allegation in a tweet earlier this month. He also suggested the president was not accusing his predecessor specifically.

A congressional committee had set a Monday 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”.

The House Intelligence Committee said it would give the department until 20 March to comply with its request.

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 surveil each other now”.

“You can surveil 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,” she told New Jersey’s Bergen County Record.



Original Trump Track story

Update 16 Mar 2017 – Trump Tries to Explain his Reasoning

He said: “I’ve been reading about things. I read in, I think it was January 20 a New York Times article where they were talking about wiretapping. There was an article I think they used that exact term. I read other things.

“I watched your friend, Bret Baier, the day previous where he was talking about certain very complex sets of things happening, and wiretapping. I said, wait a minute, there’s a lot of wiretapping being talked about. I’ve been seeing a lot of things”.

He did not elaborate on his claims, which Mr Obama’s team have dismissed as “false”, nor provide any evidence to back them up.

When asked why he did not report his suspicions to the intelligence services before making them public he said he did not want “to do anything that’s going to violate any strength of an agency”.

He said they had “enough problems” and that the CIA itself had been hacked during the Obama administration and “had a lot of things” taken.

Mr Trump defended his decision to tweet his suspicions without proof because “The New York Times wrote about it”.

“Not that I respect The New York Times. I call it the failing New York Times. But they did write on January 20 using the word wiretap,” he explained.

He claimed he had subsequently gathered “a lot” of evidence and “some very interesting items are coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.”

Mr Trump’s confidence is at odds with the conclusion of the House Intelligence Committee that it had seen no evidence for it and did not believe it happened.

The Independent