While every other member of the US Senate Intelligence Committee rejected Trump’s bizarre claim that the Obama administration wire-tapped him during the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump is sticking to his guns, or rather his nukes.
The top Republican in Congress, House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, added his voice to a growing chorus of lawmakers saying there was no sign of a wiretap.
But White House spokesman Sean Spicer forcefully defended the president, citing news reports of intelligence collection on possible contacts between Trump associates and Russia in the presidential campaign.
“There is no question that there were surveillance techniques used throughout this,” Spicer said.
The Republican president has accused his predecessor, Democrat Barack Obama, of wiretapping him near the end of the campaign. An Obama spokesman said that was “simply false”.
“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,” Richard Burr, the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Senator Mark Warner, the committee’s Democratic vice chairman, said in a statement.
Ryan also said there was no evidence of surveillance.
“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,” the House speaker told reporters.
Pressed at the White House briefing on whether Trump would back down from his wiretap accusations, Spicer said: “He stands by it”.
Spicer also chastised the media for focusing so much attention on comments disparaging Trump’s claim about surveillance. He said reporters had not focused enough on comments from officials denying evidence of any collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.
But that might have been because the news is really about Trump’s allegations that his associates had ties to Russian officials and the White House wants that buried. Trump fired his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, last month after he failed to disclose contacts with Russia’s ambassador before Trump took office on January 20.
An official familiar with the investigations by Congress and intelligence and law enforcement agencies said investigators had looked as aggressively and thoroughly as they could for evidence of any spying on Trump or his associates but had found none.
At least four congressional committees included the startling accusation in their investigations of possible Russian meddling in the election campaign and Russian ties to Trump and his associates.