Former CIA Director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Monday that President Donald Trump should “accept the responsibility” for making the unsubstantiated claim that former President Barack Obama ordered that Trump Tower be wiretapped in the waning days of the 2016 campaign.
“I don’t get it, and I don’t think America gets it,” Panetta said on NBC’s “TODAY” of the Trump administration’s dogged support for that wiretapping claim, despite multiple congressional committees finding no evidence for it after following through on the White House’s request for an investigation.
Panetta worked in both the Obama and Clinton administrations, and criticized Trump from the stage of the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
“He made an allegation, there’s no evidence to support it,” Panetta said. “He asked for an investigation by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. They’ve done that and determined that there’s no evidence. I think the time has come for the President to accept the responsibility that he made a mistake here, that there is no truth to this allegation.”
“He probably should apologize, I think, to the President, President Obama,” Panetta continued. “And frankly, he should move on. He’s got to deal with the issue of health care, he’s got to deal with a Supreme Court justice who’s in hearings this week, he’s got to deal with the threat from North Korea. It’s time to focus on those issues.”
It appears that Trump based his claim that Obama ordered wiretapping on media reports. On Thursday, asked about news that the Senate Intelligence Committee had found no evidence to support that claim, White House spokesman Sean Spicer quoted from a series of news reports related to wiretapping, though none of them supported the claim, either.
Spicer concluded by quoting from Andrew Napolitano, who had claimed on “Fox and Friends” that the British intelligence agency GCHQ had surveilled Trump on the United States’ behalf. (GCHQ responded that the claims “are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.”)
Asked about the charge in a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Friday, Trump deflected responsibility to Fox News, whose Shepard Smith later said he could not stand behind Napolitano’s “commentary.”
Watch below via NBC:
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 20, 2017