Trump: Claim of Obama wiretapping based 'on a little bit of a hunch'

President TrumpDonald John TrumpMinneapolis erupts for third night, as protests spread, Trump vows retaliation Stocks open mixed ahead of Trump briefing on China The island that can save America MORE said Thursday his unsubstantiated claim in March 2017 that former President Obama had his "wires tapped" in Trump Tower was based on "a little bit of a hunch," and suggested he was surprised it prompted such an outcry at the time.

The president called in to Sean Hannity's Fox News show in which the two men railed against alleged improper behavior from federal law enforcement, which Trump contended continued after he won the 2016 election.

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"I don’t know if you remember, a long time ago, very early on I used the word ‘wiretap,’ and I put in quotes, meaning surveillance, spying you can sort of say whatever you want," Trump said, saying it garnered attention "like you’ve never seen."

"Now I understand why, because they thought two years ago when I said that just on a little bit of a hunch and a little bit of wisdom maybe, it blew up because they thought maybe I was wise to them," Trump continued. "Or they were caught. And that’s why. If they weren’t doing anything wrong it would've just gotten by, nobody would’ve cared about it."

"It was pretty insignificant I thought when I said it, and it’s pretty amazing," he added.

The president made the stunning claim about his predecessor in March 2017, alleging without evidence, that "President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!”

The Justice Department confirmed in a court filing the following September that neither it nor the FBI had evidence Trump Tower was the target of surveillance efforts by the Obama administration during the 2016 presidential election.

But Trump and his allies have reasserted his allegations that his campaign was improperly surveilled leading up to the 2016 election following the release of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE's full report, which did not establish the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government, and neither implicated nor exonerated the president on obstruction of justice.

Trump in particular has seized on comments from Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrFormer prosecutors outraged at decision to dismiss the Flynn case should focus on the real problems The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation More than two dozen former prosecutors, judges, active trial lawyers support DOJ decision to dismiss Michael Flynn case MORE earlier this month that he is looking into efforts by the FBI to investigate members of the Trump campaign before the 2016 election.

“I think spying did occur,” Barr said. “But the question is whether it was adequately predicated and I’m not suggesting it wasn’t adequately predicated, but I need to explore that.”

Asked later whether he wanted to clarify his use of the word "spying," Barr said he was looking into whether “improper surveillance” may have occurred in 2016.

The attorney general's comments set off a political firestorm, with Democrats accusing Barr of carrying water for the president's long-held beliefs that the FBI acted improperly.