Trump: ‘Wiretap covers a lot of different things’

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President Trump is defending his unsubstantiated claim that former President Obama ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower. 

“Wiretap covers a lot of different things,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson set to air Wednesday night. “I think you’re going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.”

The comments are Trump’s first on the matter since making the stunning allegation in a string of tweets earlier this month. 

Trump referenced the New York Times’ reporting when asked about the source of his wiretapping accusations.

Administration officials have cited news reports in their defense of Trump’s claims, but no news reports have found that the Obama or any White House official called for surveillance of Trump.
{mosads}The article Trump referenced was published in the Times the day before the inauguration about intercepted communications part of the intelligence community’s probe into links between Trump associates and Russian officials. The story cites an official who “said intelligence reports based on some of the wiretapped communications had been provided to the White House.”
“Well, I’ve been reading about things. I read in, I think it was Jan. 20, a New York Times article where they were talking about wiretapping. There was an article, I think they used that exact term,” Trump said in the interview.

The president also cited reporting by Fox News host Bret Baier about wiretapping.

“We will be submitting certain things and I will be perhaps speaking about this next week. but it’s right now before the committee and I think I want to leave it there,” Trump added.

When Carlson said Trump could gather evidence himself as president without having to rely on news outlets, Trump said: “I do, I do, but frankly I think we have a lot right now.”
White House press secretary Sean Spicer issued a statement one day after Trump’s tweets, calling for a congressional probe and saying, “Neither the White House nor the president will comment further.” 

But since then, White House officials have repeatedly spoken about the claim. 

Spicer on Tuesday appeared to backtrack when he said the tweets weren’t meant to be taken literally, and that Trump could have been referring to a broad range of surveillance activity. 

“He doesn’t really think that President Obama went up and tapped his phone personally,” Spicer said. 

Key congressional Republicans have grown frustrated with the lack of evidence produced by the administration to back up the president’s assertions. 

“Are you going to take the tweets literally? And if you are, then clearly the president was wrong,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said Wednesday. 

The panel said it might subpoena the Justice Department, which requested on Monday more time to produce evidence relating to Trump’s claim.

The committee initially set a Monday deadline for the panel to turn over the information. 

The FBI has told Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) that it will brief them in response to their demand for any surveillance warrant applications of Trump Tower, Graham said Wednesday.

That response comes after Graham fired a warning shot Tuesday, telling reporters that the bureau was about to “screw up big time” if it didn’t respond to his request. 

Mallory Shelbourne contributed

Tags Lindsey Graham Sheldon Whitehouse

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