The White House sought information to support President Trump's unsubstantiated claim that former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaStephen Sondheim, legendary Broadway songwriter, dies at 91 With extreme gerrymanders locking in, Biden needs to make democracy preservation job one Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves MORE tapped his phone, according to a report in the New Yorker.
“The White House said, ‘We are going to mobilize to find something to justify the President’s tweet that he was being surveilled,’ " an intelligence source told Ryan Lizza, the author of the story, after reportedly "talking to people in the intelligence community.”
"‘We need to find something that justifies the President’s crazy tweet about surveillance at Trump Tower.’ And I’m telling you there is no way you get that from those transcripts, which are about as plain vanilla as can be,” the source said, according to the report.
Lizza's story also casts doubt on claims that former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice targeted members of Trump's transition team caught up in foreign surveillance. Trump and his supporters have accused her of asking for their identities and then widely disseminating the information for political purposes.
“There’s absolutely nothing there,” one source told Lizza.
"Trump names remain masked in the documents, and Rice would not have been able to know in all cases that she was asking the NSA to unmask the names of Trump officials," Lizza writes.
Bloomberg View reported that Rice requested the names to be "unmasked" during broader intelligence probes. The names of U.S. citizens swept up in intelligence gathering are obscured by default, but officials can formally request to see them.
Rice has denied the allegations.
“I think the Susan Rice thing is a massive story,” Trump told The New York Times earlier this month, saying he did believe Rice acted illegally without providing evidence.
Lizza writes critically of the Trump administration in his piece, arguing the real story is that the administration sought to use the intelligence community to back up Trump's claims.
"The bigger scandal is the coordinated effort to use the American intelligence services to manufacture an excuse for Trump’s original tweet," he writes.
The White House did not respond to the New Yorker's request for comment.
Tags Barack Obama