WASHINGTON – Former US National Intelligence Director James Clapper, who served under former President Barack Obama, denied on Sunday that any of President Donald Trump’s conversations were tapped or recorded during last year’s election campaign.
“For the part of the national security apparatus that I oversaw as DNI, there was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president-elect at the time, as a candidate, or against his campaign,” Clapper, who was DNI chief from 2010-2017, said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Clapper said that if such recordings had been made, or such tapping performed, he “certainly” would have known about it, adding that he could deny the existence of any judicial order permitting the FBI to monitor communications at Trump Tower in New York, the magnate’s campaign headquarters.
Trump on the weekend asked Congress to investigate whether Obama abused executive powers by allegedly ordering wiretaps during the 2016 presidential campaign, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Sunday.
“President Donald J. Trump is requesting that as part of their investigation into Russian activity, the congressional intelligence committees exercise their oversight authority to determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016,” Spicer said in a statement.
On Saturday, Trump alleged that Obama ordered the wiretapping of his phones in Trump Tower during the campaign, comparing the move to the Watergate case.
Trump leveled made the allegations against Obama in a series of early morning tweets, but he offered no evidence to support his claims.
“How low has President Obama gone to tapp (sic) my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!” Trump tweeted.
Obama responded to the allegations through a spokesman Saturday, saying that he did not order the wiretapping of a US citizen.
“Neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen,” Kevin Lewis, spokesman for the former president, said in a brief statement.
Lewis added that “a cardinal rule of the Obama administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice.”
“Any suggestion otherwise is simply false,” Lewis said.
Trump compared the purported wiretapping to Watergate, the scandal that forced then-President Richard Nixon to resign in disgrace in 1974, and McCarthyism, right-wing Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s notorious anti-communist crusade in the 1950s.
Spicer said the White House wanted congressional investigators to look into the alleged wiretapping at Trump Tower, which served as the headquarters of the president’s campaign team.
“Reports concerning potentially politically motivated investigations immediately ahead of the 2016 election are very troubling,” Spicer said.