FBI Director James Comey on Sunday asked the Justice Department to publicly knock down President Donald Trump’s allegations that former President Barack Obama directed intelligence agencies to wiretap his phones during the presidential election, The New York Times reports.
Comey has said in private that the charges are entirely false and has been working to get the DOJ to reject the claim because "it falsely insinuates that the FBI broke the law," officials told the Times.
Trump early Saturday, through a series of tweets, accused Obama of ordering wiretaps on his telephones in Trump Tower as part of an investigation into whether his campaign was communicating with the Russian government. He equated the alleged tapping to the Nixon/Watergate scandal and called it "McCarthyism."
Trump's aides on Sunday called for a congressional investigation into whether Obama had abused his investigative powers during the 2016 election.
"Reports concerning potentially politically motivated investigations immediately ahead of the 2016 election are very troubling," White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in a statement. "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."
A spokesman for Obama on Saturday strongly denied Trump's accusation, while another former Obama official cautioned to be careful while considering the official statement. Two GOP senators publicly called for Trump to provide more information on the claims, with Justin Amash saying the allegation had "serious implications."
James Clapper, the director of national intelligence at the time of the election, told NBC Sunday he knew of no court order to allow monitoring of Trump Tower in New York.
"There was no such wire-tap activity mounted against the president-elect at the time, as a candidate, or against his campaign," Clapper told Chuck Todd on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Asked whether there was a FISA Court order to monitor Trump, Clapper said, "Not to my knowledge."
Fox News Channel reported Sunday afternoon that law enforcement officials close to the matter could not confirm the New York Times story on Comey, but did say that Trump's allegations that Obama had wiretapped him caught the most senior federal law enforcement officials off guard."
"Those officials had no idea what Mr. Trump was talking about when everybody found about this on Saturday morning," Fox News' Leland Vittert reported.
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