NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers agreed Monday that it was “utterly ridiculous” to allege that his agency’s British counterpart, GCHQ, helped former President Barack Obama eavesdrop on Donald Trump during the election.
The White House has surfaced reports to that effect in the past few weeks in order to back up the President’s unfounded assertion that Obama ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower, leading it to eventually issue a formal apology to the British government.
During a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Russian interference in the U.S. election, ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) asked Rogers about the veracity of those reports, which GCHQ has dismissed as “nonsense.”
Rogers said no such thing occurred, and that “it would be expressly against the construct of the Five Eyes [intelligence] agreement that’s been in place for decades” to ask the United Kingdom to help spy on American civilians.
The NSA head said that both he and FBI Director James Comey have found “no evidence” to support Trump’s wiretapping allegation.
“Our relationship with the British intelligence is one of the closest with all foreign services,” Schiff said. “Isn’t that true?
“Yes, sir,” Rogers replied.
“Our British allies have called the President’s suggestion that they wiretapped him for Obama ‘nonsense’ and ‘utterly ridiculous,’” Schiff followed up. “Would you agree?”
“Yes, sir,” Rogers said.
After failing to produce evidence to support his bombshell allegations about Obama having his “wires tapped,” the President and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer have both pointed to a Fox News commentator’s remarks about GCHQ allegedly spying on Trump (the network later said it could not confirm that commentator’s reporting).
Schiff asked if those false accusations “damage our relationship with one of our closest intelligence partners.”
Rogers said he believed the U.S.-U.K. partnership was “strong enough” to weather this storm, but that it “clearly frustrates a key ally of ours” and is unhelpful.