Trump's White House can't provide evidence that the president was wiretapped

Meanwhile, FBI Director James Comey is mad about Trump's claims

By Matthew Rozsa

Published March 7, 2017 1:47PM (EST)

James Comey   (Getty/Saul Loeb)
James Comey (Getty/Saul Loeb)

It appears that President Donald Trump's weekend tweets accusing Barack Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential election did more than dominate the news cycle — they also annoyed FBI Director James Comey so much that he felt compelled to take the unprecedented move of speaking out against his own president.

Comey was reportedly "incredulous" when he learned over the weekend that Trump had accused Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower. Out of concern that Trump's claims could erode institutional confidence in the FBI, as well as because he knew the allegations to be groundless, Comey asked the Department of Justice to join him in debunking Trump's assertions. The Department of Justice — which is led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a staunch Trump ally — has not responded to his requests, which Comey has reportedly found very frustrating.

"Does he know of possibility there might be a confrontation and be fired by the President? Sure," a source close to the situation told CNN. "Does he worry about it? No."

Trump's press secretary Sean Spicer has so far refused to acknowledge Comey's attempts to discredit the White House's anti-Obama stories.

"I have not seen anything, aside from another report based on anonymous sources, that that actually happened," Spicer said. "I’m not aware that that occurred. I don’t think that we’re aware that that occurred."

The White House has not only been unable to provide evidence for its assertions, but to even say where Trump's claims are coming from.

"I think that there’s no question that something happened. The question is, is it surveillance, is it a wiretap or whatever?" Spicer told reporters. "But there’s been enough reporting that strongly suggests that something occurred."

Spicer has been unable to provide evidence aside from pointing to news reports, and couldn't even refute speculation that Trump had based his conclusions off right-wing talk radio and Breitbart. He seemed to be caught guessing as to where Trump could have gotten his information — "It could be FISA, it could be surveillance" — and tried to spin former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr.'s unequivocal rebuffing of Trump's claim.

"He said that he wasn’t aware of anything. I take him at his word that he wasn’t aware, but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t exist," Spicer argued.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

MORE FROM Matthew Rozsa

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Barack Obama Donald Trump Fbi Director James Comey James Comey