News and Commentary

Trump: Obama Wire-Tapped Trump Tower! Team Obama: ‘Simply False’

Early Saturday morning, President Trump took to Twitter to accuse President Obama of wire-tapping his phones before the election, an accusation an Obama spokesman says is “simply false.”

“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” wrote Trump in the first of a series of tweets (below). “Is it legal for a sitting President to be ‘wire tapping’ a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!”

And Trump was not done: “I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!” he added. “How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”

Yahoo News reached out to the White House for clarification and were simply told that Trump had “just learned” the new information. As Yahoo notes, Trump has the authority to declassify this information if he wants to prove his claims.

Saturday afternoon, a spokesman for Obama and two former Obama administration officials sharply denied Trump’s allegations.

“A cardinal rule of the Obama administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice,” Obama spokesman Kevin Lewis said in a statement Saturday. “As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any US citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.”

CNN reports that two unnamed former senior US officials also dismissed the “false” allegations. “This did not happen. It is false. Wrong,” one former official told CNN. “Just nonsense,” said another.

So who is telling the truth? The question might come down to what exactly Trump means by having had his “‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower” and if the target is specifically him or his associates, like his former campaign manager Paul Manafort, who, as the New York Times reported, was monitored by the feds. If Trump does have new evidence, then presumably he will present it publicly. (Update: Sean Spicer’s follow-up statement suggests he does not have new evidence.)

Trump’s allegation comes amid mounting evidence that the Obama administration took a series of aggressive steps to undermine Trump’s presidential hopes as well as his incoming administration. According to multiple reports, during the 2016 campaign, the Obama administration allegedly submitted two requests with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) targeting Trump or those associated with him. The first, submitted in June 2016, was reportedly a request to monitor several of Trump’s associates. The request was denied. The Obama administration then allegedly submitted a second FISA request in October focused on the computer server in Trump Tower, which they suspected had some connections to Russian banks. That request was granted, but nothing was found. According to some reports, the wiretaps of Trump Tower continued nonetheless. The Guardian reported on the two alleged requests in early January:

The Guardian has learned that the FBI applied for a warrant from the foreign intelligence surveillance (Fisa) court over the summer in order to monitor four members of the Trump team suspected of irregular contacts with Russian officials. The Fisa court turned down the application asking FBI counter-intelligence investigators to narrow its focus. According to one report, the FBI was finally granted a warrant in October, but that has not been confirmed, and it is not clear whether any warrant led to a full investigation.

As the Daily Wire reported this week, leading up to Trump’s inauguration, the Obama administration worked feverishly to disseminate potentially damaging intelligence information related to Trump and Russian officials. According to the New York Times, in January, the Obama administration expanded the power of the National security Agency in order “to share globally intercepted personal communications” with 16 other intelligence agencies without applying privacy protections, thus making it easier to leak intelligence information on private citizens, like Trump and his associates. The administration made full use of the new powers, as highlighted in a New York Times piece this week:

In the Obama administration’s last days, some White House officials scrambled to spread information about Russian efforts to undermine the presidential election — and about possible contacts between associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump and Russians — across the government. Former American officials say they had two aims: to ensure that such meddling isn’t duplicated in future American or European elections, and to leave a clear trail of intelligence for government investigators.

On Fox & Friends Sunday, Mark Levin cited several articles (mostly by left-leaning outlets) as clear evidence of the Obama administration weaponizing federal intelligence agencies against Trump:

Trump’s “Towergate” tweets below:

This article has been revised for clarification and expanded to provide more details about the alleged actions of the Obama administration, the response from Lewis and the former Obama administration officials, and Levin’s list of articles he argues present evidence of Trump’s claim.