Sean Spicer: Trump May Have Used Wiretapping Term Against Obama But Didn't Mean It
Monday's (March 13) White House press briefing by Sean Spicer lead to more questions than answers about President Donald Trump's accusations of wiretapping towards the Obama administration. While yesterday was the deadline for Trump's administration to hand over evidence supporting his murky claims, Spicer told reporters Trump didn't intend to accuse former President Barack Obama of wiretapping when he tweeted about wiretapping earlier this month.
"I think there's no question that the Obama administration, that there were actions about surveillance and other activities that occurred in the 2016 election," Spicer said. "The President used the word wiretaps in quotes to mean, broadly, surveillance and other activities."
After a positive response to his speech to Congress on March 1, Trump tweeted, "Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!" while calling Obama a "sick guy." Several officials have condemned his claims including FBI Director James Comey who found them "incredulous." Sen. John McCain, (R-Ariz) also provided his take on Trump's claims on Sunday (March 12). "I think the president has one of two choices: either retract or to provide the information that the American people deserve," he said. "If his predecessor violated the law, President Obama violated the law, we have got a serious issue here, to say the least."
A representative for Obama also denied the claims. Spicer says Trump's tweets should be open to interpretation instead of focusing on the term wiretapping—which is what the president tweeted.
The Justice Department has now asked for more time from the House Intelligence Committee, Fox News reports. The new deadline to provide information will now fall on March 20. "If the committee does not receive a response by then, the committee will ask for this information during the March 20 hearing and may resort to a compulsory process if our questions continue to go unanswered," Jack Langer told the Associated Press.
Other attempts to clean up Trump's wiretapping mess include Kellyanne Conway who suggested the alleged actions by the CIA (like grabbing information from smart TV's and smartphones) revealed in the latest Wikileaks findings could've been used against Trump. "What I can say is there are many ways to surveil each other now, unfortunately," including "microwaves that turn into cameras, et cetera," Conway said to the Bergen Record,. "So we know that that is just a fact of modern life.
While speaking with CNN's Jake Tapper on Monday Conway said she was generally speaking about surveillance.
Meanwhile, the House Intelligence Committee is looking to start their investigation on Trump's alleged connection to Russian ambassadors.