President TrumpDonald TrumpHeadaches intensify for Democrats in Florida Stormy Daniels set to testify against former lawyer Avenatti in fraud trial Cheney challenger wins Wyoming Republican activists' straw poll MORE said Thursday he does not believe the Israeli government is spying on the United States.
His remarks came after a news report said U.S. officials thought Israel had placed surveillance devices around Washington.
“I don’t think the Israelis are spying on us,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House. “I really would find that hard to believe.”
Trump said he has a strong relationship with Israel, pointing to his administration’s policies on Iran, of which the Israeli government has been supportive. Trump later added that "anything is possible" but repeated that he doesn't believe it.
Trump made the remarks before departing for a speech at the House GOP retreat in Baltimore on Thursday evening.
Politico reported earlier Thursday, citing anonymous former U.S. officials, that the government concluded in the last two years that Israel was likely responsible for the placement of cellphone spying devices commonly known as “Stingrays” around Washington.
The report said that the Trump administration did not impose consequences on Israel over the revelations.
The Israeli government has denied the report in statements to various news outlets.
“There is a longstanding commitment, and a directive from the Israeli government not to engage in any intelligence operations in the U.S.,” the office of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE said, according to BBC.
The devices, formally known as International Mobile Subscriber Identity catchers, exploit cell towers and can intercept cellphone communications. The Department of Homeland Security disclosed signs of the technology around Washington, including sensitive facilities like the White House, last year but did not attribute them to any particular actor.