WH: Sharing Baseless Report On British Spying On Trump Wasn't An Endorsement

Pablo Martinez Monsivais

The White House on Friday said that it never intended to lend credence to a Fox News commentator's baseless remarks supporting President Donald Trump’s claim he’d been wiretapped by reading those remarks aloud in a press briefing.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Thursday read a series of media reports that he said backed up Trump’s wild allegation, including Fox News commentator Andrew Napolitano's claim that GCHQ, Britain’s spy agency, eavesdropped on Trump on former President Barack Obama’s behalf.

The GCHQ issued an angry denial of that “utterly ridiculous” allegation, and the U.S. government reportedly apologized to British Prime Minister Theresa May for Spicer repeating the claim.

The White House said in a statement Friday that Spicer was “simply pointing to public reports, not endorsing any specific story,” according to a pool report.

The apology came after British Ambassador to the U.S. Kim Darroch and Sir Mark Lyall Grant, May’s national security advisor, “expressed their concerns” to Spicer and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, according to the statement.

The U.K. is one of the United States’ closest allies and the two governments coordinate closely on intelligence sharing.

Trump declined to answer questions about the situation before a meeting with the Republican Study Committee, according to the White House pool report.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Allegra Kirkland is a New York-based reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked on The Nation’s web team and as the associate managing editor for AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @allegrakirkland.
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