British spy agency GCHQ has denied the White House’s “utterly ridiculous” claim that it eavesdropped on President Donald Trump during the election, prompting a formal apology from the U.S. government.
“Recent allegations made by media commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano about GCHQ being asked to conduct ‘wiretapping’ against the then president-elect are nonsense. They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored,” GHCQ said in a statement obtained by the Telegraph.
This strident and rare denial comes after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Thursday cited a Fox News appearance by Napolitano, a former New Jersey judge, to support Trump’s claim that Obama had ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower during the campaign.
Napolitano claimed Obama “went outside the chain of command” by enlisting the aid of the British agency so that there weren’t “American fingerprints” on the operation.
The House and Senate Intelligence Committees and U.S. attorney general have said there is no evidence to support Trump’s claim, but the President insists he will be “vindicated.”
After the angry denial from GHCQ, the Trump administration extended a formal apology to the British government and promised not to push the claim again, according to NBC.
NBC reported that a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said the U.K. government had “made clear” to the White House that the GCHQ allegations were false and not to be repeated.