President Donald Trump stands by his explosive accusation that the Obama administration tapped his phones during the 2016 presidential campaign, the White House has said, despite three senior lawmakers rejecting Trump’s claim.
The Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee said in a statement they saw “no indications” of surveillance at Trump Tower in New York as the president claimed in Twitter posts on March 4.
“Based on the information available to us, we see no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element of the United States government either before or after Election Day 2016,” Republican Chairman Richard Burr and Senator Mark Warner, the committee’s Democratic vice chairman, said in a statement.
But White House spokesman Sean Spicer forcefully defended Trump’s assertion during a briefing, citing media reports that have discussed intelligence collection on possible contacts between Trump associates and Russia in the campaign.
The Russian government has rejected an accusation by US intelligence agencies that it worked to influence the election in Mr Trump’s favour by hacking computer systems, among other methods.
House Speaker Ryan told reporters: “The point is, the intelligence committees in their continuing, widening, ongoing investigation of all things Russia, got to the bottom – at least so far – with respect to our intelligence community that – that no such wiretap existed.”
Mr Graham and Mr Whitehouse are leading one of three congressional committees, who have added Mr Trump’s startling accusation to their wider investigations of possible Russian meddling in the election campaign and Russian ties to Trump and his associates.
Mr Trump, a Republican, made the accusation six weeks after he took over the presidency from Democrat Barack Obama.
Mr Trump accused Mr Obama of wiretapping him during the late stages of the campaign, but provided no evidence. Mr Obama said through a spokesman that it was “simply false.”