Congressional Intel Chiefs: No Evidence Trump Tower Was Bugged

AP

Alice Ollstein contributed reporting.

Leaders from both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees re-affirmed Thursday afternoon their earlier statements that they had no indication that former President Barack Obama ordered wiretapping on Trump Tower, as President Donald Trump claimed.

The statements came after White House press secretary Sean Spicer acknowledged the committees’ findings during a press briefing Thursday, but also said, citing Trump, that “there would be additional information coming forward,” and “the investigation by the House and the Senate has not been provided all of the information.”

“The bipartisan leaders of the Intelligence Committee would not have made the statement they made without having been fully briefed by the appropriate authorities,” a spokesperson for Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told TPM on Thursday.

Before Spicer gave his daily briefing Thursday, the chairman and ranking members of that committee said in a statement that “[b]ased on the information available to us, we see no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element of the United States government either before or after Election Day 2016.”

The chairman and vice chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Wednesday that they had found no evidence that Trump Tower had been wiretapped.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) said that statement didn’t necessarily rule out the possibility that Trump’s communications could have been picked up incidentally, in the legal surveillance of others, such as was the case with ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

“There was no physical wiretap,” Nunes said, responding to reporters’ questions. “You can’t rule out surveillance, because we know for a fact that they picked up incidental collection on General Flynn. Now we don’t know if it’s — is that it? That was legal collection, by the way, but that was leaked to the media.”

“The wiretap issue — if you’re going to take it literally, okay, there wasn’t a physical wiretap done by the President. But if you take in the broad scope of things, in all surveillance activities, then there are still questions that are unanswered,” he added later.

“I think the President saw a bunch of press stories and then tweeted about it,” he said. “Probably was a time when he should have tweeted about it with a few more people around so that it could have been a few more clear.”

President Trump claimed Wednesday that he meant surveillance generally when he wrote “wires tapped” on Twitter, accusing former President Obama of personally ordering surveillance on him. The White House has still not offered evidence for that claim.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
LIKE US ON FACEBOOK