FBI chief expected to deny wiretapping claim, Dem says
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Thursday that he expects FBI Director James Comey to debunk President Trump’s claim that he was “wiretapped” in a highly anticipated public hearing next week.
All four chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Intelligence committees have publicly stated that there is no evidence to back up the president’s explosive allegation.
“I think the director will have an opportunity to put the final exclamation point on that and put this to rest, and then it will be up to the president to explain why he would make such a baseless accusation,” Schiff told reporters off the House floor Thursday.
He had earlier told CNN that he expected the director “will be able to answer that question.”
Former President Obama “had my wires tapped,” Trump tweeted earlier this month.
The Justice Department has been under fierce pressure from both Democrats and Republicans to disclose whether there is any truth to the president’s claims — putting Comey’s appearance before the House Intelligence Committee Monday morning under a spotlight.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), whose Senate Judiciary subcommittee has jurisdiction over the FBI, has demanded documentation of any warrants issued related to the Trump campaign. The chairman of the full committee, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), has threatened to hold up consideration of Trump’s pick for deputy attorney general until the bureau responds to a separate but related request regarding the FBI’s reported investigation into Russian interference in the election.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday also urged the FBI director to address the issue head-on next week.
“Monday, the president’s comments should be rejected by the director,” she said. “I would hope that the Department of Justice would have done something already, but one might assume … that that question might be asked of the director. It should come as no surprise to him, but he should answer it directly.”
Most experts have argued that the president’s accusation is far-fetched under current U.S. surveillance law.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Tuesday said Trump is “extremely confident” that the Justice Department will produce evidence to back up his assertion. He said Trump believes the evidence will “vindicate him.”
“I think there’s significant reporting about surveillance techniques that existed throughout the 2016 election,” Spicer said.
Defending his claim Wednesday, Trump told Fox News that a “wiretap covers a lot of different things.”
“I think you’re going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.”
Mike Lillis contributed.