Claim: Donald Trump claims that Barack Obama had Trump Tower wiretapped.
Note: This article is a follow-up to Donald Trump: Recent Statements.
On March 4, President Donald Trump issued a set of tweets that accused former President Barack Obama of having Trump Tower wiretapped during the waning months of 2016 presidential campaign. In the tweets, he equated the actions as being equivalent to McCarthyism and Watergate. He also said that a court turned down the request earlier and that Obama found nothing.
Trump has not provided any evidence to support this claim. An explanation from the White House by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that “wiretapping” (in air quotes) is not the same as wiretapping. To put it another way, Trump was referring to surveillance in general. In a separate press conference, Spicer accused the British government of helping the Obama administration in wiretapping Trump Tower. This accusation originated from a report on Fox News that was traced to a Russian news agency.
It has been speculated that the original tweets were based on a story found on Breitbart which originated from Mark Levin’s radio program. Another theory is that Trump is attempting to distract the press from its coverage of the alleged connections between his campaign and Russia or to discredit the investigation.
Kevin Lewis, the spokesman for Obama, stated that Obama did not interfere with an independent investigation by the Department of Justice and any suggestion otherwise is false. Ben Rhodes, a former deputy national security adviser for Obama, stated that the President cannot unilaterally authorize wiretaps.
As reported in the press, wiretap data has been used in the inquiries into the alleged connections between Trump and Russia. Additionally, Trump’s supporters point to past actions by the Obama administration such as spying on world leaders as support for this accusation. There is a rumor that a warrant had been granted but it is not known who requested it. If true, it means that there was probable cause.
As a result of these accusations, many people attempted to find evidence to support the claim. Members of intelligence committees in Congress were not able to find any evidence. James Comey testified before Congress that there was no evidence that there had been surveillance on Trump Tower.
Trump and the White House continue to make the claim of wiretapping. There is no evidence supporting this claim and several members of the intelligence community have said that there was no surveillance.
Due to the repeating of a blatantly false claim, this claim is a lie. Some evidence suggests that there might have been some surveillance and despite the repeated unfounded assertions, this claim is false.
Update 3/24/2017: The rating of “lie” might have been premature. In the Congressional hearings that have taken place this week, there might be evidence to suggest that there might have been some surveillance. There is a question as to whether or not this is a “smoking gun” but these revealations changes things. I’ve changed the rating to false.
References and Further Reading
- ‘This is Nixon/Watergate’: Trump alleges that Obama wire tapped his phones during the campaign
- Why Trump Is Accusing Obama of Wiretapping
- What we know about Trump’s unsubstantiated wiretapping allegations against Obama
- SEAN SPICER ACTUALLY USED AIR QUOTES TO DEFEND TRUMP’S TWEETS
- Donald Trump fuels diplomatic row with Britain after apology from US officials over GCHQ wiretapping claims
- No evidence Trump Tower was wiretapped, Senate intelligence committee leaders say
- FBI: Trump campaign, Russia ties investigated, no wiretap evidence found
- Mark Levin to Congress: Investigate Obama’s ‘Silent Coup’ vs. Trump