Responding to news that the Senate Intelligence Committee found no indication to support President Donald Trump’s claim that Trump Tower was under surveillance before or after Election Day, White House press secretary Sean Spicer dug in his heels.
He tried to defend the President’s claim by reading from a variety of news reports.
“It’s interesting how, when evidence comes out and people who have been briefed on the Russia connection come out and say that there was nothing that they have seen that proves a connection, you chose not to cover that,” Spicer said, contrasting that story to coverage of Trump’s wiretapping charge.
“Let’s go through what we do know, OK?” he said.
He proceeded to read, for around seven minutes, media reports from the past several months that he said supported Trump’s claim, concluding with a claim from Judge Andrew Napolitano on “Fox & Friends” earlier this week, that President Obama had asked the British intelligence service GCHQ to surveil Trump, so that his “fingerprints” wouldn’t be on the story. (“No part of this story is true,” a spokesman for the UK government told Fox News.)
“Putting the published accounts and common sense together, this leads to a lot,” Spicer said. Trump, too, cited media reports to support his claim during an interview Wednesday night – though they did not.
“So, are you saying that the President still stands by his allegation that President Obama ordered wiretapping or surveillance of Trump Tower despite the fact that the Senate Intelligence Committee says they see no indication that it happened?” ABC News’ Johnathan Carl asked. “Does the President still stand by the allegation?”
“He stands by it, but, again, you’re mischaracterizing what happened today,” Spicer said, noting that the Senate committee had not been in contact with the Department of Justice.
“The bottom line is, as the President said last night, that he will be providing – there would be additional information coming forward. There is a ton of media reports out there that indicate that something was going on during the (2016) election,” he said.
Spicer added later that, while he was citing public news reports in his response, the House and Senate Intelligence Committees – the same committees the White House asked to investigate Trump’s claim in the first place – had not yet seen presumably classified information that would prove Trump’s claims correct.
“The bottom line is that the investigation by the House and the Senate has not been provided all of the information,” he said.