President Donald Trump Friday refused to directly answer about members of Congress debunking his wiretap claims by the Obama administration at a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel — saying only that "at least we have something in common, perhaps."
"As far as wiretapping, I guess, by this past administration, at least we have something in common, perhaps," Trump said while pointing to Merkel, who did not respond to the president's comment.
The question was posed by a German news reporter.
In October 2013, the German government obtained information that the United States might have monitored Merkel's mobile phone — and she had called President Barack Obama to demand a clarification on the issue.
Merkel had told Obama that if such surveillance had occurred, it would represent a "grave breach of trust" between the allies, her spokesman said at the time.
However, the White House said then that Obama had assured Merkel that the United States "is not monitoring and will not monitor" her communications.
The revelation about mass spying on European allies resulted from the flurry of leaks of confidential intelligence information that stolen earlier that year by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Trump has alleged that Obama ordered the wiretapping of his Trump Tower telephones during the presidential campaign last year.
The top Republican and Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said Wednesday that no evidence had been presented to support Trump's claims.
FBI Director James Comey is scheduled to testify Monday on Russian-related hacking during the election.
In addition, the British government this week debunked a claim by Fox News contributor Andrew Napolitano on Tuesday that Obama had enlisted its spy agency to tap Trump's telephones — telling Newsmax that "no part of this story is true."
The agency, the Government Communications Headquarters, immediately denied Napolitano's report.
Britain's ambassador to Washington, Kim Darroch, also complained directly to National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster and White House spokesman Sean Spicer on Tuesday.
A spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May said Friday that British officials made it clear to Spicer that the "ridiculous" claims should be ignored.
"We have a close, special relationship with the White House and that allows us to raise concerns as and when they arise as was true in this case," spokesman James Slack said Friday.
"We have made clear to the administration that these claims are ridiculous and that they should be ignored and we have received assurances that these allegations won't be repeated," he said.
At the White House Friday, the German reporter asked President Trump for his response to these latest developments.
"All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television," Trump said. "I did not make an opinion on it.
"That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on Fox," he added. "So, you should not be talking to me.
"You should be talking to Fox."
But Spicer told reporters after the news conference on Friday: "I don't think we regret anything."
The German reporter also asked Trump whether he regretted communicating by Twitter — and the president immediately responded, "very seldom."
"I probably would not have been here right now, but very seldom," he added, most likely referring to his winning the election in November. "We have a terminus group of people that listen — and I can get around the media when the media does not tell the truth.
"So, I like that."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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