Dems slam Trump as 'deflector in chief' for wiretap claims

Democratic lawmakers on Sunday raised questions about President Trump's claims a day earlier that former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaTrump takes credit for passing veterans bill that passed under Obama Orlando Sentinel declines to endorse Trump in 2020 Progressive activist: Democratic nominee will 'need to ride a little bit to the center' MORE wiretapped Trump Tower during the campaign.

Democrats criticized Trump for presenting the allegations with no evidence, calling the president's claims "ridiculous" and dismissing the comments as an attempt to change the subject from Russian interference in the election.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocrats detail new strategy to pressure McConnell on election security bills Democrats detail new strategy to pressure McConnell on election security bills Ex-state senator in North Carolina enters race against Tillis MORE (D-N.Y.) said Obama had "flatly denied that he has done this," and said the claim by Trump presented issues for the president whether it turned out to be true or not.

"Either way, Chuck, the president's in trouble. If he falsely spread this kind of misinformation, that is so wrong," Schumer said during an interview on NBC's "Meet The Press."

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"It's beneath the dignity of the presidency. It is something that really hurts people's view of government." 

The New York Democrat said if the allegations prove false, it shows the president doesn't know how to "conduct himself."

"On the other hand, if it's true, it's even worse for the president," Schumer said.

"Because that means that a federal judge, independently elected, has found probable cause that the president, or people on his staff, have probable cause to have broken the law or to have interacted with a foreign agent."

That is "serious stuff," Schumer said.

"So either way, the president makes it worse with these tweets. Now, is he trying to divert things here? Yeah," Schumer said.

"The president denied this. ... I don't have any doubt that President Obama has been telling the truth."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also suggested the president was trying to create a distraction.

She referred to Trump as a "deflector in chief."

“That's just ridiculous for President Trump to say that President Obama would ever order any wiretap of an American citizen, any president,” Pelosi said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“It's the tool of an authoritarian to have them always be talking about what you want to be talking about,” Pelosi added.

The sentiment was echoed by Sen. Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsSenators revive effort to create McCain human rights commission Senate Dem to reintroduce bill with new name after 'My Little Pony' confusion Senate Dem to reintroduce bill with new name after 'My Little Pony' confusion MORE (D-Del.), who called the allegations made by Trump "remarkable."

"I think another attempt by President Trump to change the subject," Coons said on "Fox News Sunday."

"But this deserves full investigation. And the larger point, I think ... is that it's in the best interest of our country for us to move forward promptly and get to the bottom of this."

Coons noted he doesn't think any president should ever "directly order an intercept or wiretap of an American citizen."

"That's not what our system provides. You have to go in front of a judge and get a warrant in order to conduct a wiretap," he said.

Coons raised the possibilities that either the president "inappropriately released classified information and was himself the subject of a court-ordered wiretap" or there was "inappropriate actions by the previous administration."

But he said it doesn't help the country either way "for this all to be worked out on Twitter."

"It ought to be worked out in a full, fair, prompt and thorough investigation, whether by the Senate Intelligence Committee, if they can get to the bottom of this," he said. "Or by a special prosecutor."

Coons also noted it's possible Trump's claims just aren't true, adding that the president offered "no evidence or backing for his outlandish claims."

The president in a series of tweets Saturday morning claimed Obama had his "wires tapped" in Trump Tower before his presidential victory.

He laid out the claims without any evidence and questioned whether it was legal for a sitting president to be "'wire tapping' a race for president prior to an election."

"How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process," the president tweeted. "This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!"

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Sunday called the reports about "potentially politically motivated investigations" before the 2016 presidential election "very troubling."

In a series of tweets, he said that the president is "requesting that as part of their investigation into Russian activity, the congressional intelligence committees exercise their oversight authority to determine whether executive branch investigation powers were abused in 2016."

Spicer said that neither the White House nor the president would "comment further until such oversight is conducted."