Obama administration denies Towergate: Insiders blast Donald Trump’s claims Obama wire-tapped his phones at Trump Tower before the election in ‘Nixon/Watergate’ style scandal
- Trump has accused Obama of wire tapping his phones at Trump Tower on Twitter
- The president tweeted that Obama had been spying on him in October
- He claims the phones in Trump Tower were ‘tapped’ before his election victory
- But Obama’s spokesman, Kevin Lewis, said those claims were ‘simply false’
- Lewis released a statement Saturday saying ‘neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen’
- Ben Rhodes, the former policy advisor for Obama, also blasted Trump’s claims
- He responded to Trump in a tweet that said ‘no president can order a wiretap’
- A former senior intelligence official said ‘it’s highly unlikely there was a wiretap’
- According to official, wiretap can’t be directed at US facility, without probable cause the phone lines were being used by agents of a foreign power
Obama’s spokesman Kevin Lewis released a statement Saturday afternoon refuting Trump’s wire-tapping claims.
‘A cardinal rule of the Obama administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice,’ Lewis wrote.
‘As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.’
Lewis’ statement comes shortly after Trump fired off a flurry of tweets early Saturday morning claiming that the former president had been spying on him in October, a month before his election victory.
‘Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!’
McCarthyism, which the president used in his first tweet, is the practice of making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence.
Trump started tweeting shortly after 3.30am ET and posed the question: ‘Is it legal for a sitting President to be ‘wire tapping’ a race for president prior to an election?’
In another tweet Trump said it was a ‘new low’ for the former president, compared it to ‘Nixon/Watergate’ and calling Obama a ‘bad (or sick) guy’.
Ben Rhodes, the former policy advisor for Obama, also blasted Trump’s accusations on Twitter: ‘No President can order a wiretap. Those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you.’
Rhodes shot back at another Trump tweet saying: ‘Dear Pundits who lauded his speech. Is it still ‘presidential’ to call your dignified predecessor ‘Bad (or sick) guy!’
But Ben Rhodes, the former policy advisor for Obama, blasted Trump’s accusations on Twitter: ‘No President can order a wiretap. Those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you’
Trump also linked Obama to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s meetings last year with Russia’s US ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.
‘The first meeting Jeff Sessions had with the Russian Amb was set up by the Obama Administration under education program for 100 Ambs,’ he tweeted.
Trump’s team has sought to push back over its connections to Russian officials by pointing out instances of Democrats meeting with Kislyak.
But a former senior intelligence official told The Washington Post that ‘it’s highly unlikely there was a wiretap’.
‘It seems unthinkable. If that were the case by some chance, that means that a federal judge would have found that there was either probable cause that he had committed a crime or was an agent of a foreign power,’ the official said.
According to the official, a wiretap cannot be directed at a US facility, without finding probable cause that the phone lines or internet addresses were being used by agents of a foreign power.
‘You can’t just go around and tap buildings,’ the official told the Post.
Another former senior US official, who worked under the Obama administration, told CNN there was no such investigation of Trump, nor were his phones tapped.
‘This did not happen. It is false. Wrong,’ the former official said.
The official echoed that of others saying Obama could not have ordered this and adding that it would have been taken to a judge by investigators, but investigators never did that.
The president, who is currently vacationing at his private Mar-a-Lago estate, did not provide any additional evidence to back up his claims.
A spokesperson for Obama did not immediately reply to a request for comment from DailyMail.com.
Trump seemed to be referring to a Thursday evening radio show hosted by Mark Levin that claimed Obama executed a ‘silent coup’ of Trump via ‘police state’ tactics, according to far-right Breitbart News.
Through a timeline, Levin suggested the former president should be the target of congressional investigation.
Trump tweeted that the former president had been spying on him in October, a month before his election victory
The president, who is currently vacationing at his private Mar-a-Lago estate (pictured), did not provide any additional evidence to back up his claims. Obama has not responded to the accusations
During the summer last year, the Obama administration filed a request with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) to monitor communications involving Trump and several advisers but the request was denied, according to Heat Street former editor, Louise Mensch.
Just a day before the 2016 election, Mensch reported that ‘sources with links to the counter-intelligence community’ confirmed that a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) had granted a FISA court warrant in October to monitor activities in Trump tower.
On Wednesday, a New York Times report said White House officials took efforts in the closing days of the Obama administration to analyze and spread information about Russian election interference, driven by a concern that the material might get buried by Trump.
Intelligence agencies rushed to analyze raw intelligence material about Russia connections, going over months-old material as the extent and possible motives of what the agencies say is Russian election hacking emerged.
Officials made efforts to ask specific questions at intelligence briefings as a way to get the information into the record and be archived for examination later.
In January, American law enforcement and intelligence agencies examined intercepted communications and financial transactions as part of a broad investigation into possible links between Russian officials and associates of Trump, according to the Times.
The FBI led the investigations, aided by the National Security Agency, and the Treasury Department’s financial crimes unit.
Trump also linked Obama to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s meetings last year with Russia’s US ambassador
KEEPING AN EYE ON RUSSIA
1. In June 2016, the Obama administration filed a request with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) to monitor communications involving Trump and several advisers but the request was denied, according to Heat Street former editor, Louise Mensch.
2. In October, the Obama administration submitted a new FISA request, which focused on a computer server in Trump Tower suspected of links to Russia, according to Heat Street.
4. In January 2017, Christopher Steele was named as ex-MI6 agent behind ‘fake’ Trump sex dossier. None of the allegations were verified and some were proven false. Also in January, the Obama administration expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.
5. In January 2017, American law enforcement and intelligence agencies examined intercepted communications and financial transactions as part of a broad investigation into possible links between Russian officials and associates of Trump, according to the Times.
6. The Times also reported in January that White House officials took efforts in the closing days of the Obama administration to analyze and spread information about Russian election interference, driven by a concern that the material might get buried by Trump.
7. A month later, ex- National Security Adviser Mike Flynn was forced to resign from his position following reports that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other officials about his contacts with Russia.
8. Also in February, phone records and intercepted calls showed that members of Trump’s campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, the Times reported.
9. In March, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions removed himself from all investigations involving the presidential campaign in a stunning turnaround to save his job on Thursday afternoon. It was revealed that he didn’t tell Congress about his meetings with the Russian ambassador to the US. He then announced he was recusing himself from all investigations connected to the presidential election.
Investigators found no conclusive evidence of wrongdoing, the officials said.
One official said intelligence reports based on some of the wiretapped communications had been provided to the White House.
As the news spread about Trump’s allegations, many government officials took to social media to respond.
South Carolina Sen Lindsey Graham, spoke on Trump’s accusations at a Town Hall on Saturday.
‘I am very worried that our president is suggesting that the former president has done something illegally,’ Graham told his audience.
‘I would be very worried if in fact the Obama administration was able to obtain a warrant lawfully about Trump campaign activity with foreign governments.
In other words, the he Obama administration would have only been able to lawfully obtain a warrant for a wire tap, if a judge found probably cause that Trump was engaging in criminal activity.
Democrats have also responded to Trump’s claims, including House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, who Trump recently demanded by investigated after she said she hadn’t met the current Russian ambassador, only to be revealed to have met him in a 2010 photo.
Pelosi hit back at Trump’s demands of an ‘immediate’ investigation by tweeting: ‘The Deflector-in-Chief is at it again. An investigation by an independent commission is the only answer.’
Others have also responded to Trump’s claims, including Ted Lieu, a Democratic member of the US House of Representatives, representing California’s 33rd congressional district
Nancy Pelosi, who Trump recently demanded by investigated after she said she hadn’t met the current Russian ambassador, also responded to Trump’s claims
Former Vermont Gov Howard Dean also tweeted shortly after Trump’s accusation made headlines
The Trump administration has come under increasing pressure over its connections to Russian officials.
Earlier this week, Sessions recused himself from any investigations involving the presidential election after it was revealed he twice met with Kislyak during the campaign.
When Trump was asked if he knew Sessions had met Kislyak before the election, he said: ‘I wasn’t aware at all.’
The president’s extraordinary intervention came as Sessions faced a firestorm over whether he lied to the Senate during confirmation hearings by failing to disclose his two meetings last summer.
But the president also said he has ‘total’ confidence in his attorney general and does not think he should recuse himself from Justice Department investigations involving Russia.
‘I don’t think so,’ he told reporters asking about recusal on Thursday as he visited the USS Gerard R. Ford in Newport News, Virginia.
Despite saying he did not know of the meetings with Kislyak, he stood by Sessions as he took fire from Democrats for failing to disclose the conversations during his confirmation hearing.
Asked if Sessions told a Senate panel the truth about the communications, Trump gave only a half-hearted endorsement, however.
‘I think he probably did,’ Trump said.
A White House spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.