Tags: Leon Panetta | Trump | Wiretap | Claims | Obama

Leon Panetta: Time for Trump to Apologize for Wiretapping Claims and Move On

("Today")

By    |   Monday, 20 Mar 2017 10:05 AM

Leon Panetta said Monday he doesn't get why President Donald Trump continues to defend his tweeted claims that President Barack Obama "wiretapped" his offices at Trump Tower, and he doesn't think America gets it either.

"He made an allegation; there's no evidence to support it," Panetta, who served as both CIA director and Secretary of Defense under former President Barack Obama, told NBC's "Today" show anchors Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie. 

"He asked for an investigation by the House and Senate Intelligence committees," continued Panetta. "They've done that and determined there's no evidence. I think the time has come for the president to accept the responsibility that he made a mistake here, that there is no truth to this allegation."

Trump should apologize to Obama and then move on, as there are bigger issues ahead of him, Panetta continued.

"He's got to deal with the issue of healthcare," Panetta said. "He's got to deal with a Supreme Court justice, who is in hearings this week. He's got to deal with the threat from North Korea. It's time to focus on those issues."

FBI Director James Comey will testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Monday to provide details of any investigation his agency is performing into contacts between Trump's associates and Russia, and Panetta said he believes the wiretapping question will also come under discussion.

He suspects Comey will affirm there is no evidence to support the wiretapping claims, but will be "much more circumspect" on Russia.

Trump's wiretapping claims, meanwhile, affect Trump's credibility with America and the world, Panetta said.

"We've upset the British," said Panetta. "The German situation didn't turn out the best the other day. It is impacting on our ability to deal with other countries and to deal with the issues related with our national security."

Panetta, also appearing on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program, commented that the United States is dealing with a world where there are a "lot of flash points and a lot of threats," and the only way to deal with them is through close alliances in NATO, Britain, Australia, and others.

"The more the president angers our closest allies, the more he weakens our ability to deal with the threats that we are facing in the world," said Panetta. "It's that simple."

Panetta is widely credited with creating order in former President Bill Clinton's White House as chief of staff, and while he doesn't think Trump would listen to him, he would have some advice for him as well.

"They first thing [I'd do] is get rid of that tweeting capability, and really rely on speaking on issues where he has backup from a White House staff," said Panetta. "Secondly, there are too many points of power in the White House staff right now, too many competing areas.

"I'm a believer that you only have one chief of staff and that the chief of staff should be responsible for handling the other staffs."

He does think Trump has appointed a good national security team, and with CIA Director Mike Pompeo having access into the Oval Office, Panetta said he hopes the CIA and Trump are repairing their relationship.

"A president's first duty is to protect the country and very frankly, he cannot protect the country without getting good intelligence," said Panetta.

Panetta told Fox News' "Fox & Friends" that he does believe the CIA and FBI will examine who is leaking classified information from the White House, and while Trump did get off on the "wrong foot" with some in the intelligence committee, its members are professionals.

"They are not Republicans or Democrats," said Panetta. "They are just Americans trying to do their jobs. His first duty is to protect the country. Frankly, he can't protect the country without good intelligence."

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Leon Panetta said Monday he doesn't get why President Donald Trump continues to defend his tweeted claims that President Barack Obama "wiretapped" his offices at Trump Tower, and he doesn't think America gets it either.
Leon Panetta, Trump, Wiretap, Claims, Obama
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2017-05-20
Monday, 20 Mar 2017 10:05 AM
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