In a brief filed late on Friday, the Department of Justice confirmed that it has no evidence to support President Donald Trump’s assertions this spring that he was the target of surveillance by the Obama administration while running for office last year.
The motion, filed in response to a lawsuit from the pro-transparency group American Oversight, notes that “both FBI and NSD confirm that they have no records related to wiretaps as described” by Trump.
After Trump took to Twitter in early March to accuse the Obama administration of “wire tapping” his phones at Trump Tower, a charge that then-FBI Director James Comey assured Congress was baseless, American Oversight filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking records of any wiretaps of Trump Tower.
The Trump administration at first asserted that it could neither confirm nor deny the existence of any wiretapping records. American Oversight challenged that response in court.
“Given that the president publicly confirmed the wiretaps (in his March tweets) and former FBI Director Comey publicly denied their existence (in his testimony to Congress), we have argued that FBI and DOJ ought to be able to provide a straight answer about whether any wiretap records do or don’t exist,” the organization’s spokesperson Clark Pettig told TPM.
On Friday, the DOJ released a motion acknowledging they have no evidence of any wiretaps.
“The FBI and Department of Justice have now sided with former Director Comey and confirmed in writing that President Trump lied when he tweeted that former President Obama ‘wiretapped’ him at Trump Tower,” American Oversight’s Executive Director Austin Evers said in a statement. “As the president and his legal team continue their smear campaign against Mr. Comey, Special Counsel Mueller and others investigating him, this filing confirms that even Trump’s own Department of Justice does not believe he has credibility on a key element of the Russia investigation.”
Read the full motion below:
Alice Ollstein is a reporter at Talking Points Memo, covering national politics. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been reporting in DC ever since, covering the Supreme Court, Congress and national elections for TV, radio, print, and online outlets. Her work has aired on Free Speech Radio News, All Things Considered, Channel News Asia, and Telesur, and her writing has been published by The Atlantic, La Opinión, and The Hill Rag. She was elected in 2016 as an at-large board member of the DC Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Alice grew up in Santa Monica, California and began working for local newspapers in her early teens.