Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) asked the FBI on Wednesday for information on the possible wiretapping of President Donald Trump, his campaign or Trump Tower.
The request came after Trump charged over the weekend, without a shred of evidence, that “Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory.” Trump also wrote on Twitter: “I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October.”
White House press secretary Sean Spicer later said that the White House would not comment further on the charge until the congressional intelligence committees had investigated it.
The senators join the Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee, who asked the FBI director Wednesday for a briefing in part on the wiretapping charge. The House Intelligence Committee’s ranking member, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), said Tuesday of Spicer’s request: “We accept this. We will investigate this.”
Graham and Whitehouse wrote to the acting deputy attorney general and the FBI director that “[c]ongress must get to the bottom of President Trump’s recent allegation that President Obama wiretapped President Trump’s phones during the 2016 election. The White House agrees.”
“The President’s request was for the intelligence committees to look into this, but it is the Department of Justice’s criminal division that obtains warrants for wiretaps, and oversight of the criminal division lies with the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism,” the letter continued later.
“Therefore, we request that the Department of Justice provide us copies of any warrant applications and court orders—redacted as necessary to protect intelligence sources and methods that may be compromised by disclosure, and to protect any ongoing investigations—related to wiretaps of President Trump, the Trump Campaign, or Trump Tower.”
Graham told CNN Wednesday that, “yes,” he would be willing to subpoena intelligence agencies for evidence that would prove Trump’s claims.
“All I can say is that the country needs an answer to this,” he told the network. “The current President has accused the former President of basically wiretapping his campaign.”
Some have traced Trump’s charge back to a Heat Street article that claimed, citing two unnamed sources with links to the counter-intelligence community, that the FBI’s counter-intelligence arm may have received a FISA warrant to examine a private server in Trump Tower for possible financial and banking violations, including those related to connections to the Russian Alfa Bank.
“As Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, we would take any abuse of wiretapping authorities for political purposes very seriously,” Graham and Whitehouse’s letter concluded “We would be equally alarmed to learn that a court found enough evidence of criminal activity or contact with a foreign power to legally authorize a wiretap of President Trump, the Trump Campaign, or Trump Tower. We look forward to your response.”
Read Graham and Whitehouse’s letter below:
This post has been updated.