On Saturday, senior FBI officials called Justice Department officials and asked that they publicly reject President Trump’s assertion that then-President Obama ordered the wiretapping of then-candidate Trump’s phones, CBS News’ Jeff Pegues reported, citing law enforcement sources.
The message to the Justice Department came from FBI Director James Comey, who disputed the claim because it falsely suggests that the FBI broke the law.
The FBI declined to comment, and so far, the Justice Department has also provided no comment.
The story was first reported by The New York Times.
On Saturday morning, Mr. Trump issued a series of tweets accusing the president of tapping his phones. One of his tweets read, “How low has President Obama gone to tapp [SIC] my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!” The president cited no evidence to back up his accusation.
Sunday morning, the White House issued its first response, calling for the congressional intelligence committes to investigate the Obama administration’s surveillance activities.
Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee Mark Warner called Mr. Trump’s accusations “reckless.”
“I thought the president’s comments could no longer surprise me, but boy this one yesterday surprised me,” he said in an interview on “Face the Nation” Sunday. “To make that type of claim without any evidence is I think very reckless.”
He said he was not aware of any FISA court order regarding Trump Tower, which the president said was under a wiretap in the lead-up to the 2016 election. Warner added that Mr. Trump’s tweets did suggest the president “doesn’t understand how you obtain a wiretap.”
President Obama’s spokesman, Kevin Lewis, denied the accusation, saying Saturday, “neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen.”